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Big names line up to attack new rules
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Big names line up to attack new rules
Posted By:   |  19 Mar 2009   |  6:21 pm GMT  |  0 comments

After the initial stunned silence over the decision to introduce a £30 million budget cap in F1, followed by a muted reaction from FOTA, today has seen some of the sports biggest names express great unhappiness.

Chief among them is Ferrari and FOTA president Luca do Montezemolo, who didn’t mince his words,

“It really is grave and absurd that our world finds itself in a situation like this. I hope for a climate of responsibility like that of the teams, who have reduced costs. It’s really absurd and dangerous that one week from the first race F1 finds itself back in this kind of situation, which is very negative for credibility, for the teams, the manufacturers, the fans and sponsors.

It’s more important to have a calmer atmosphere and to avoid continual changes which generate uncertainty, for those who work in the sport and raises question marks about the future.”

That last bit is a veiled threat to take Ferrari out of F1, it seems to me. We’ll hear more like that I think, in the coming weeks.

Seven times world champion Michael Schumacher, who became close to FIA president Max Mosley through his work for the FIA Foundation, described the decision as ‘astonishing’.

Renault team principal Flavio Briatore also came out and expressed his ‘shock’ at the move,

“It was a bit of a shock,” he said. “I believe all the parties need to be working together to achieve a target. The financial crisis makes everyone worried and we need Formula 1 to be more efficient but sometimes we are not happy with the sentences that are imposed.

“I believe the teams have already done an incredible job for 2009 and 2010, and now we’re ready to go further but we need to continue working together with the federation.”

I still think that this is not a done deal, but rather a starting point, albeit a very firm one, in a negotiation with the teams over budgets in the short term and budget control in the long term. Think of it like the banking crisis. The governments loosened their regulation of banks and that led to banks taking bigger risks and doing things even they didn’t understand. It’s brought the world to the brink of a depression. What we will end up with as a result is a whole new system for regulating banks in the future.

In F1, teams have been allowed to spend what they want and the arrival of the manufacturer era in the sport around 2000 drove costs through the roof. No-one was regulating that, the FIA accept that they should have done, and so we ended up with a model which is unsustainable in a recession. Drastic cuts were needed, the FOTA teams came up with what they thought was a pretty drastic package, but Mosley has gone much further and introduced an idea which will regulate budgets to make sure they don’t get out of control in future.

At the same time, he’s put the cat amongst the pigeons with FOTA, as the smaller team owners will love the idea of a) making a profit and b) seeing the value of their franchise go through the roof, so they will want to back the plan. The manufacturer teams and established teams like Ferrari and McLaren have the most to lose from this and the union of FOTA is put under strain.

A £30 million F1 team only needs 250 employees, it could only afford that many, and so what you will probably see is more teams doing what Red Bull does and owning two. McLaren will be looking at this, so too Ferrari. I wouldn’t be surprised to se jean Todt and his son popping up fairly soon with an F1 team and at least three of the GP2 teams could afford to go F1 racing on that basis.

There will now be a rush of teams coming into F1, like the US F1 outfit and a waiting list will develop of wealthy people who want in. It will create a market.

And Ross Brawn, who was given the Honda team plus a subsidy for year one, is now sitting on an asset worth tens of millions of pounds.

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  1. Neil says:

    There is a maximum number of cars allowed/possible though.

    So while we might see a rush of teams getting to the sport in the next few years, they might then have to start refusing entry to others.

    Then we’ll be back in reverse gear, trying to drive up costs and eliminate people so the more prosperous teams can stay in the sport.

    Not a good move.

  2. Jake.. says:

    I’m glad to see that everyone thinks that the proposals are joke, because, quite simply, they are.

  3. Dave says:

    I am very disspointed to say that the teams have got themselves into this mess… in as much as they should have formed a brreakaway when they had the chance… who scuppered that… Ferrari and now look where that has got them. If smaller private teams think this is good for them then think again…. anything Max Mosley is involved with including his smaller wing called the WMSC is in the long run a bad thing. As for Bernie…. he is meant to be on the teams side!

    I do not know how FOTA can get out of this mess…. It’s such a shame for all of us. I cannot understand how a sport made by the teams run by the teams is so badly controlled and managed by two self centred people. The teams are paying a heavy price now…

  4. miller says:

    it’s sad to see every year new rules, formula one will never be the same as it used to be.

  5. Martin says:

    Well if it brings back the days of the privateer F1 entry I’m all for it. Back in the 70s we had the Copersucars, Ensigns, individual drivers in single-entry private Lotuses and so on, 36 cars sometimes I seem to remember, with pre-qualifying before qualifying, but still a 24 or 26 car grid. It would be great to see that sort of thing again, lots of little guys doing battle with the big guns.

  6. Martin says:

    I like the idea of budget capping but only if it is applied to every team and then there is the problem of policing the caps anyway. I had been thinking that this recession would bring the best out of F1 but it seems to me now that they are reacting too quick.

  7. Oscar says:

    Told you so! The cost of running an F1 team with the TV revenues and sponsorship deals is going to turn out to be nothing short of a licence to print money. Ross Brawn is certainly in the right place at the right time, bet he can’t believe his luck!

    They need to create a sustainable environment for teams to function as businesses that can make a fair profit but they should not do it to the extent that it will dilute F1 from being the pinnacle of motor sport.

  8. Tomys says:

    This new rule is a horror. We will see ‘LMP1 diesel and petrol cars’ era in formula one. Different technologies in the same class can never work and you can never express this technical difference by money volume. It is simply impossible.

    But what is more horror, that Bernie and Max are just doing that for sake of showing their power, not for good of formula one.

  9. rpaco says:

    It is encouraging to see the big names siding with the fans, as James mentioned before, this is a classic Bernie move, divide and conquer. If the split should work it will be time for a non FIA formula. Protests by the teams this season by retiring early will mean less advertising OTS. and maybe Bernie will get the message. As John g wrote Max would not be affected by any one’s opinion.

    Lots of extra teams are no problem, since the slowest will not be racing. True it will clog up the track in Q1 but I think the maximum number allowed used to be 26. Mind it was disheartening for the tail enders who never actually raced all season. DNQ was a frequent suffix on the results board.

    However this is unlikely to happen since the major teams will be in another series.

  10. Ben G says:

    I’m relieved to see the serious players in F1 are starting to stand up to Max & Bernie, and are also reflecting the fans’ sentiments.

    But, on the “every cloud” rule, I’d be delighted if Ross Brawn made a quick turn on his (or rather Honda’s) investment – he deserves it.

  11. Darren M says:

    I’m still undecided whether I’m for or against this budget cap. When it was announced on Tuesday, I didn’t think it was a good idea, but in reality that’s probably just because I’ve never liked Max Mosely and began to dislike Bernie Ecclestone more recently, and I didn’t really want them to gain more power/ money.

    But the more I think about it the more it makes sense. The F1 teams have needlessly wasted so much money is in recent years, even since engine usage was cut. I can think of 2 completely different examples off the top of my head- Mclaren’s multi million pound upgrade for Brazil 2008, which they apparently didn’t use, and a story I read in a newspaper late last year, which mentioned that F1 teams each use something like 50 different dummy cameras on their cars during pre season testing. I can’t imagine they cost too much but you get the idea.

    Obviously the £30 million figure will rise- FOTA surely has some influence against the FIA/ FOM on budgets- but anything which will see more teams on the grid has some appeal to me. I read a Bernie Ecclestone quote saying he wanted enough teams to necessitate pre Qualifying, which I wouldn’t mind seeing.

  12. Gert Paumen says:

    And what about teams that want to enter but arent in the championship yet?

    They can spend as much as they want before they enter?
    Could be we see a team start a new team with a huge budget, enter with an instant winner.

    That’s how f1 could go! :)

    Anyway it will be 50mil or something in the end :)

  13. Dermot Keelan says:

    The possibility of budget caps in future is not what bothers me the most. If they are implemented correctly and we are left with a single Formula 1 then thats fine by me.

    But what is most disturbing about all of this is that the FIA winner takes all nonsense ruins the sporting side of F1. It totally undermines almost 60 years of great motorsport in my view and if the changes are not reversed i personally will find it hard to maintain interest in the sport.

    These changes are the equivalent of FIFA coming out and saying that football is to be played with rugby balls from now on. Theres no logic behind it at all in my opinion. Frankly i’m absolutely disgusted with the management of this sport at the moment.

  14. Goodas says:

    Deep down i feel this wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for “Spygate” & NOTW!!!

  15. sean says:

    I wonder how many are going to cough up millions of dollars to see 26 Dallara or Lola chassis with Cosworth engines running around on a Sunday. All these new tracks are paying huge money for the best cars to show up. Where ever Ferrari goes F1 goes with it, and people all over the world want to see these cars they have the history and the fans. Other formulas A1 , IRL and Cart are struggling for fans and money A1 was nearly cancelled this season because there owners weren’t paying there bills. People all over the world pay big money to see Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, Toyota, etc we do not pay big money to see Bernie or Max. The track owners know this the sponsors know this and they will go where these teams want to go. Max & Bernie have just about killed the goose that laid the golden egg, maybe Mr Todt will turn up as the new president of a new race series with all these big teams in. I know which series I’ll be watching.

  16. mark says:

    I give up.

    First we had to suffer the stupid stewards’ decisions last year. Now we have the most ugly looking F1 cars ever, and to top it all off we have these silly new rules to determine how much teams spend and who wins the championship – all decided by an organization run by a pervert.

    Honestly, F1 has turned into a complete joke. I’m a long time fan, but will now find something else to do on Sunday afternoons.

  17. Your joking says:

    On the new medal (winner takes all) points scoring system, lets say your name is Massa and you Qualified third on the grid, next to you is Hammy, you both make a good start and are side by side as Button who was on pole makes a small mistake going into turn one. He runs wide and on coming back on to the racing line takes Massa’s front wing off. On making it back to the pits Massa gets out of the car and retires when asked by the press why he retired, he tells them what’s the point in continuing 1, I’m not going to win a medal now 2, Points don’t mean anything to me 3, I’ll save the team money by saving the engine for the next race. Or you could have someone not turning up for the last 5 races because his race win total can be passed!!

    Come on FIA think about it!!

  18. john g says:

    the theory of the budget cap is interesting – as a theory. The concept of more technical freedom if you maintain lower costs has its positives.

    i think it’s mainly the way it’s being implemented is what’s really getting people angry. ramming the proposals through with no discussion with FOTA. how will the rules create a level playing field, who decides on the limit of technical freedom? it will be a moving goalpost subject to the whim of max and bernie, giving them a lot more control of the competitiveness of each team.

    Hopefully this is just a typical max / bernie scheme, to suggest something ludricously far fetched for FOTA to reign it back in the realms of the sensible, but still the FIA get what they want.

    personally i hate the over-prescriptive way in which the sport is regulated. having a specific budget cap for example instead of regulations that simply do not require such a high budget in order to be competitive. for example, a regulation of standardised front and rear wing elements. downforce is massively reduced, therefore drag is reduced, and engine power is not so important so you don’t get the need for constant engine development. also, you won’t get all the aero development which is a massive part of the current budget. this simple move would save millions of dollars for each team with a more natural and organic regulation, rather than enforcing arbitrary limits.

  19. George says:

    Remember Max’s term expires in October this year, hopefully his sheep will decide to mutiny this time.

  20. Finn says:

    The biggest problem here isn’t the rule changes per se, its that the teams and Max have had these run ins in the past and the teams have pretty much always backed down (in part thanks to the support Ferrari has given the FIA over the years).

    Situations are always resolved in the end via Hegel’s usual triad route of thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

    I expect the budget cap will grow to 50 or 60 million with the top drivers getting money direct from sponsors and being paid a notional fee by the teams.

    Probably the biggest regret of the teams right now is that they didn’t have the sense to make a united stand against Max last year when the NOTW story broke. If they had said categorically as a single united group that they would not accept Max’s role as head of the FIA and if they had refused to have anything to do with him, then his position would have been untenable and they wouldn’t be in this mess today.

    The teams have backed down too often and now they just look weak and silly.

    As for the winner wins idea, it is unlikely to make any major difference …. the driver with the most wins is going to probably be the points leader anyway or in the top 2 drivers. A storm in a tea cup, but at least it pushes the drivers to make the effort to win races.

  21. john g says:

    bravo FOTA and di montezemelo. i think bernie and max are playing a dangerous game poking such a powerful entity now with little sticks. i understand that all teams have now signed up to 2012 but i don’t think that they’ll let FIA/FOM just walk all over them anymore.

  22. Mike Ellison says:

    Good analysis James on the effect of this. Instead of the Ferrari vs The Rest split that has been relied on for so long by Bernie and Max for keeping control, they’ve found another constituency to woo.

  23. It does seem to odd to me that the unified yet open approach the FOTA have adopted has failed to pay dividends.

    Whilst the commercial (read Bernie) aspects of the sport were always, and continue to be, a bone of contention I was optimistic that the regulatory and sporting code working groups (read Max) would yield results in line with the requirements of FOTA, who have already made many voluntary concessions over the past 3 months.

    In seems in both instances that neither have been resolved satisfactorily, either from the teams’ pespective, or from the side of the spectator (judging by the comments from all corners of the web).

    Whilst change is necessary for stability and to secure the future of the sport one must really question the FIA’s rationale for making seemingly arbitrary rule changes only days before the opening race of the season.

    Whilst the need for tight cost control is required in tough times, I subscribe to the theory that these measures should merely reflect prevailing economic conditions – something which the FOTA reacted to independently of the FIA.

    Above all, and what really sticks in my craw, is the fact that we could wind up in a (farcical) position where the world champion finishes second or third on points. That would be unforgivable.

    One question. Do these FIA measures extend as far as curbing ticket prices for events, merchandising licencing costs and other commercial activities F1 generates its real wealth from? Of course not… all that is under the guiding hand of an entirely different organisation whose soul purpose is to generate maximum returns for its shareholers.

    This one is set to run, and run…

  24. Trespass says:

    Button world champion in a very fast but not that reliable car is only possible with these new rules. I say, Go for it!

  25. Dave says:

    The FOTA have now rightly stated that the change on the points rule is, in fact, invalid. The regulations state:

    “Changes to sporting rules and to all regulations other than those referred to in b) above are published at least 20 days prior to the opening date for entry applications for the championship concerned, but never later than 30 November each year.

    “Such changes cannot come into effect before 1 January of the year following their publication, unless the FIA considers that the changes in question are likely to have a substantial impact on the technical design of the vehicle and/or the balance of performance between the cars, in which case they will come into effect no earlier than 1 January of the second year following their publication.

    “d) Shorter notice periods…may be applied, provided that the unanimous agreement of all competitors properly entered for the championship or series concerned is obtained.”

    The rule change was made much later than the deadline, and without unanimous team support. I have to wonder if this will be ignored, or the changes (hopefully) reversed.

  26. Matthew D says:

    Bernie Eccelstone knows nothing about F1. He knows the business side of it and how to fill his bloomin pockets, but that’s it. He’s useless and is a harm to the sport. Can’t wait until the little fella is gone, along with his mate Mosley.

    Thanks again for ruining the sport.

  27. James says:

    Interesting development, FOTA have found a loophole which means this new points system cannot be bought in, for this season at least. This will hopefully give the FOTA enough time to persuade the FIA to adopt their proposed system.

    http://www.itv-f1.com/News_Article.aspx?id=45299

  28. rpaco says:

    From ITV site:
    “The Formula One Teams’ Association says the FIA’s decision to change the scoring system for 2009 is invalid and cannot be enforced.”

    APPENDIX 5 (Sporting regs)
    RULE CHANGES
    1. Changes to the Technical Regulations will be proposed by the Technical Working Group (TWG)
    consisting of one senior technical representative from each team and chaired by a representative of the
    FIA.
    2. Changes to the Sporting Regulations will be proposed by the Sporting Working Group (SWG) consisting
    of one senior representative from each team and chaired by a representative of the FIA.
    3. Decisions in the TWG and SWG will be taken by a simple majority vote. The FIA representative will not
    vote unless the teams’ representatives are equally divided, in which case he will exercise a casting vote.
    4. Proposals from the TWG and the SWG will go to the Formula One Commission consisting of six
    representatives from the teams, five representatives from the race promoters and one representative
    each from the Commercial Rights Holder and the FIA. At least two race promoters must be from Europe
    and at least two from outside Europe. Decisions of the Commission will be by simple majority. The FIA
    will have a casting vote in the event of equality.
    5. The Formula One Commission may accept or refuse a proposal of the TWG or the SWG, but not amend
    it. A proposal which is refused may be sent back to the relevant Working Group for further consideration.
    6. Proposals accepted by the Formula One Commission will be put before the World Motor Sport Council
    for a final decision. Proposals which are not accepted by the World Motor Sport Council may be sent
    back to the Formula One Commission and the relevant Working Group for further consideration.
    7. Changes required for safety reasons will be considered separately

    It would seem from the above that the FIA do not have the power to change the rules anyway unless on safety.

    and the Tech regs state:
    2.2 Amendments to the regulations :
    Amendments to these regulations for 2008 and 2009 will be made in accordance with Clause 8.10 of the
    1998 Concorde Agreement.
    Thereafter changes to these or to the sporting regulations which, in the opinion of the FIA Technical
    Department, involve significant change to the design of a car, will be announced no later than 30 June to
    come into force for the next season but one. Changes needed for safety reasons may be introduced with
    shorter notice in consultation with the currently competing teams.

  29. Tyler Palmer says:

    Not sure why everyone is so surprised by the turn F1 is taking.

    F1 is controlled by couple of arrogant greedy old men who’s time has passed. Until they are gone … expect no different then the year to year political wrangling.

    FOTA should have been formed YEARS ago… the teams are now feeling that… but at least they are unified now.

    This will really give a LOT of incentive for new teams to enter the championship…. who’d want in this mess.

  30. Jay says:

    Just been deferred to 2010 according to some sites. Another FIA-led farce to embarrass F1 in the eyes of the world’s media and fans.

  31. M__E says:

    Im afraid the last bit about Ross Brawn has had more of an impact on me! – just how did he manage to get 100% ownership of the team…and with 150 million in funding too?
    All for just keeping the team open and people in jobs, should be Ross ‘robber’ Baron not brawn…. with negotiating skills like that!
    he looks set to be the next flav…

  32. alex m says:

    Another sad joke to take this farce onto an even more surreal plane.

    Bad news for Brawn, Jenson & Rubens, Formula 1′s little remaining credibility, us confused fans, Lewis even, if we get 6 wet races…….good news for Ferrari, maybe BMW or Toyota,

    Max and Bernie MUST GO.

    This is way beyond a joke, Max is using his position in his kangaroo court FIA to fight his own personal battles and the future of our sport is at stake. Bernie is not the man he once was, a great man, sadly loosing grip here and there.

    Whay is nobody talking about challenging the absurd “stewarding” standards last year, or are they all to afraid of Max ?

  33. beflox says:

    Isn’t there some rule against bring the sport into disrepute???

    The FIA should be, but wont be, ashamed of themselves. Never mind the points system, why the hell would they leave the diffuser row to be sorted out at Australia in front of the whole world. They are making F1 look ridiculous … and why? Because Max likes to remind the teams who is in charge ….

  34. Phil says:

    Well, there’s no new concorde agreement – the teams have been very clever to simply race under a memorandum of undetstanding.

    They could still do the breakaway series, although I’m sure Bernie would make life difficult – I’m sure there will be language in the contracts he holds with the tracks that say they aren’t allowed to host grand prix races for anyone but Formula 1.

  35. Ben G says:

    Good point – a new wind tunnel could set you back a year’s racing.

  36. H ROBINSON says:

    (DarrenM. ) “I used to be indecisive , But I’m not so sure now.” ! ! !….LOL.

  37. Moog says:

    It’s worth him continuing for two reasons:
    1. In the event of a tie (which is fairly likely), points will determine the winner.

    2. Constructors still gain points. As any team boss which championship he’d like to win the most, and I would wager that most would say the constructors championship. The position in the constructors championship has a serious amount cash associated with it.

  38. Stephen Kellett says:

    Protests by the teams this season by retiring early will mean less advertising OTS.

    Well, although it would be sad to see, I’m hoping an outspoken person driver such as Fernando wraps up the championship in the minimum number of races then deliberatley finishes last in every remaining race, while many of the others go on to score higher season long totals, as a protest to this winner takes all scheme. Then Bernie will feel a right fool changing the system.

    Can’t see anyone having the balls to do something as outlandish (and from some perspectives, childish) as the above, but it would send a clear message.

  39. Your joking says:

    Maybe so, but his heart won’t be in it

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