Ferrari today decided to test Max Mosley’s assertion that “Formula 1 can survive without Ferrari”
It noted that the April 29th meeting was convened to hear a disciplinary matter (the McLaren lie-gate scandal) and that the decisions taken there brought into being a two tier system of rules “based on arbitrary technical rules and parametres.”
It goes on to say that “if this is regulatory framework for Formula 1 in the future, then the reasons underlying Ferrari’s uninterrupted participation in the world championship over the last 60 years..would come to a close.
“The board also went on to express its disappointment about the methods adoped by the FIA in taking decision of such a serious nature and its refusal to effectively reach an understanding with constructors and teams.”
Ferrari argues that the rules of governance that have contributed to the development of F1 over the last 25 years have been disgregarded, as have the binding contractual obligations between Ferrari and the FIA itself regarding the stability of the regulations.
But Ferrari’s beef goes beyond just saying that they want the rules on budget caps to be dropped. They want to use this episode to get a review of the way the sport is governed by the FIA.
Bernie Ecclestone worked hard over the weekend in Barcelona to get the teams to think about a way forward on this. Basically the manufacturers are all lined up behind Ferrari. Toyota’s John Howett paved the way for today’s announcement by saying effectively the same thing and now we will see if BMW, Mercedes and Renault follow Ferrari out of the trenches and declare that they too will quit if the conditions don’t change.
They probably don’t need to. Ferrari saying that they will quit F1 is a massive statement which will resonate all over the world. It is a real shame for all parties that it has come to this. As they say, their participation in F1 has lasted an unbroken 60 years and although they have threatened this in the past behind closed doors, to come out with such a strong public statement is in itself damaging for the credibility of the sport, even if the threat is not ultimately carried through.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was due to meet Max Mosley later this week in London, but he has decided to massively up the ante ahead of that meeting.
In the interests of Ferrari and the sport, both men will have to climb down from their current positions. But there is more to this than merely hammering out a deal on budget cuts/caps. Ferrari has gone further and questioned the governance of the sport and the last two lines of the statement are heavily loaded,
“The chairman of the Board of Directors (Montezemolo) was mandated to evaluate the most suitable ways and methods to protect the company’s interests.”
This has several meanings in one. It means that they are looking into a legal challenge because they believe that ‘binding contractual obligations’ have been breached. These refer to a veto right which Ferrari negotiated into its deal when it broke ranks with the other manufacturers in early 2005 and signed up to stay in F1 until 2012.
Also it means that they are evaluating other sporting series, wither joining an existing one, like Le Mans, or starting a new one, with the other manufacturers.
This then is a test of which is the stronger brand. Is it Ferrari or is it Formula 1?
As a side note, it would be very interesting to know whether some broadcasters and promoters have a condition in their contracts with Bernie Ecclestone’s FOM that certain specific teams have to be in the field, one of which would surely be Ferrari.
When the manufacturers were thinking about that breakaway series in 2004/5, I know that this was discussed as a way of TV companies being sure they were going to be showing the right series..