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So are the nine teams in or out?
Posted By:   |  30 May 2009   |  8:12 am GMT  |  39 comments

The nine remaining teams in the Formula One Teams Association submitted a conditional entry for the 2010 world championship before the deadline at midnight last night.

Along with that single entry for all nine of them, they have submitted a document with proposals for cost reduction to the FIA, which Toyota’s John Howett describes as ‘comprehensive’.

There has been a mixed reaction to this. Some media are saying that Ferrari and the other teams have signed up for 2010, others are highlighting the conditional nature of the entry and the two main conditions which they want to see fulfilled before their commitment will be confirmed.

One is the signature of the Concorde Agreement by June 12th. This would bind in all three parties, the FIA, FOM and the teams to an agreement which would run to the end of 2012. In the Concorde Agreement there are protocols for deciding the rules, involving things like the F1 commission made up of teams, sponsors, promoters and so on, which did not come into play in the framing of the 2010 rules thus far because there is no Concorde Agreement in place. Their idea is that the Concorde Agreement would then take care of the 2011 rules.

The teams want all parties to sign the agreement by June 12th. Bernie Ecclestone is believed to want the agreement to be for five years duration, rather than three, so that could be a sticking point. June 12th is also the date on which the FIA plans to announce which 13 teams have had their entries accepted. As far as I can tell there are 15 teams looking for 13 spaces. If all the existing teams stay, then there will be three slots available for the five other teams. So we may end up with two of them teaming up, which would be quite logical.

The other condition the teams have made is that the rules stay the same as this year, ie no two tier system with a £40 million budget cap. All the other teams who have signed up, including Williams and the new teams, Campos, USF1, Prodrive, Litespeed and Lola, have signed up to compete under the £40 million cap. All must have engine contracts in place before entering, by the way, so one must presume the majority are with Cosworth.

FOTA’s statement doesn’t say that all teams must operate under the same rules, only that all the FOTA teams must, which I suppose leaves open the possibility that the budget cap could apply to the other four teams (Williams plus three new ones) as these teams are not part of FOTA.

The teams are quite adamant behind the scenes that their statement is a rejection of the notion of the budget cap. Instead they intend to self police and self regulate. They will agree among themselves not to spend any more than a target amount in 2010 and 2011 and this amount will decline significantly over the two years. No-one would give me an accurate figure but I still think it’s going to be around £80 to £100 million in 2010 and £40 to £50 million from 2011 onwards.

Incidentally there is nothing specific in the FOTA press release about technical help for the new teams. I’m told there are some thoughts in the technical document, but nothing concrete. Another important point to make is that the join entry includes Toyota so it looks, despite the spin, as though Toyota is at this stage planning to stay in F1. If the terms of the final offer do not suit them there is always the possibility that they will leave.

So yes, the teams, led by Ferrari, have signed up, but there still seem to me to be some fairly big blockages in the road to a settlement. I guess the next deadline in this process is June 12th, but before that the FIA is going to have to make some kind of acknowledgment of the entries and we will see how they take to the terms of what has been put forward.

Sources close to the FIA are still confident that a budget cap is on its way, even if the figure in 2010 is higher than originally planned.

For more on the FOTA position, take a look at the Q&A with Toyota’s John Howett on Autosport.com

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39 Comments
  1. OK, so they’re all in but they’re likely to carry on bickering – great let’s get back to the racing… F1 is better with the soundtrack from the engines not the whining from the execs.

  2. Alex says:

    James, i get the impression that Williams have jumped the gun here. Are they not going to be severely disadvantaged next year or were they always unprepared to pay more than £40m for next year.

  3. Some media are saying that Ferrari and the other teams have signed up for 2010, others are highlighting the conditional nature of the entry and the two main conditions which they want to see fulfilled before their commitment will be confirmed.

    I think the second point is far and away the most important. I don’t think they’re acceding to Mosley’s demands at all, I think it’s a challenge to his authority.

    He cannot make the argument that he needs to impose budget caps to guarantee teams will participate in the future, if nine teams are offering a three-year sign-up on the condition that budget caps are not imposed.

    What I want to know is, would Williams be prepared to compete next year on the terms set down by FOTA?

  4. Caron says:

    I was surprised by how much of the media are reporting that it’s all a done deal. As soon as I read the FOTA press release, like you, I thought that the language was very interesting and signified trouble ahead. I read one report where one publication were going on about how Ferrari had backed down.

    Do you think it’s right to assume that Mosley would not be stupid enough to give grid places to all the new teams and throw out a couple of the existing awkward squad?

    I have been surprised and pleased that FOTA’s unity has pretty much held up given that it’s a pretty broad church. Do you think Max and Bernie will try to make side deals with some of them to divide and rule. And if they did try, do you think it would work?

    What’s your best guess about how it will all pan out?

  5. Richard says:

    Hi James,

    First of all thanks for this excellent blog.

    You make an interesting point about the lack of the F1 Commission. The teams didn’t sign an new Concorde Agreement at the end of 2007 over a greater share of the FOM revenues but did they miss the bigger picture?

    No Concorde means no F1 Commission which allows the Max and the FIA to change the rules without consulting the teams.

    Previously the FIA could only introduce rule changes without the teams’ agreement under ‘safety’ reasons…

    Was this Max and Bernie’s plan all along?

    Richard

  6. Dominic J says:

    What would F1 be, if things were simple?

    Are FOTA actually requiring (or at least accepting) a 2-spec championship with this part: FOTA’s statement doesn’t say that all teams must operate under the same rules, only that all the FOTA teams must, which I suppose leaves open the possibility that the budget cap could apply to the other four teams (Williams plus three new ones) as these teams are not part of FOTA.

    Or am I just reading too much into it?

    Also, do you expect this to be FULLY sorted out by the 12th June deadline? Seems a bit optimistic to me, a jaded, cynical lifelong F1 fan.

  7. Roberto says:

    Dear James,

    I think at this point, FOTA has made the right move and said to the FIA: “listen we are 9 teams united, either we race with these sets of rules or you won’t hace F1 next year”.

    I think the FIA will have to make a big compromise and accept most of FOTA recquirements, but probably as always politics will come into play and the final statements will show everybody as a winner.

    See ya in Australia in 2010 with 13 teams, my prediction is the actual 10 (including a diminish Williams) and USF1, Prodrive and Lola

  8. Jonatas says:

    About time someone gave us a comprehensive breakdown of where exactly things stand at the moment.

    Thanks you!

  9. Leo Allen says:

    James, another superb piece from the No1 F1 source !….

    but…. if, as you say, two of the new teams join forces to make a single application….doesn’t that still leave 14 applicants for 13 places….or are my sums wrong ?

  10. blech says:

    They can’t reduce it to 100 million next year and 50 the year after.

    When it came to the budget cap, they never really went for the “it’s unenforcable” angle and noone disputes that more technical freedom is preferable to utter homologation.

    No, their only valid argument for rejecting the budget cap (as opposed to the way it was imposed by Max) is that it’s not possible for the established teams to come down in spending that quickly and that lots and lots of daddies would lose their jobs and commit suicide and poor little orphans would have to prostitute themselves etc.
    Expect at least somewhat higher limits so they can keep their credibility.

    That said, the press release does sound like a peace offer. It doesn’t say that there can’t be a bunch of budget capped teams (“the basis of the 2010 regulations will be the current 2009 regulations” – well, they are, the FIA “just” added a second class of teams) if the FOTA gets a new Concorde agreement in exchange.

    i.e. they will shut up and let the FIA win if Bernie gives them more money and Max guarantees that he doesn’t pull any similar stunts till the end of 2012.

  11. KP says:

    Tweedlefee and Tweedledum have more than met their match in di Montezemolo. Spectacular manoeuvre by FOTA.

  12. knoxploration says:

    James, you say:

    “FOTA’s statement doesn’t say that all teams must operate under the same rules, only that all the FOTA teams must, which I suppose leaves open the possibility that the budget cap could apply to the other four teams (Williams plus three new ones) as these teams are not part of FOTA.”

    This simply doesn’t seem logical, to me. FOTA is quite clear, as you note yourself, that the 2010 regulations must be reset to those from 2009 plus only the changes FOTA itself has proposed:

    “All FOTA teams have entered the 2010 championship on the basis that:

    2) The basis of the 2010 regulations will be the current 2009 regulations, amended in accordance with proposals that FOTA has submitted to the FIA.”

    That in and of itself must mean that there is no budget cap for any teams, because there wasn’t one in the 2009 regulations. FOTA would not have proposed to add it in the 2010 regulations because to propose a budget cap for some teams (but not others) with absolutely no difference in rules between the capped and uncapped groups is totally illogical.

    Even the budget capped teams wouldn’t want to operate under that scenario, because it offers no reason for the capped teams to have a cap, and potentially disadvantages them at the end of their season. What happens if a capped team reaches the final stage of the season, are already pressing up against their cap, but want to spend just another couple million in a push to beat a rival that’s only just ahead of them in the championship?

    No, FOTA is quite clear in its press release that we’re to operate under their revision of the 2009 rules – and that means no budget caps for anybody.

    Max now has two choices here, it seems:

    * A budget-capped six team formula with only one team that has any brand recognition – Williams. He might persuade a few minor FOTA teams to shed their alliance later, but the ones with the real brand recognition have mostly indicated they simply will not consider joining under Max’s planned rules.

    * A capless formula with guaranteed participation from the nine FOTA teams through 2012. Williams would be certain to agree to join up without the budget cap, so that’s ten teams. USGPE has stated several times in public that they will be on the 2010 grid regardless of whether budget caps are in place or not, having planned their budgets with the expectation that there would be no cap. So – that’s 11 teams including all the ones from the current championship, and all the brand recognition. It is perfectly possible that one or two further new teams might still decide to join without the cap as well, but is not a huge loss if they don’t, given that the existing FOTA teams (ie. the bulk of the grid) are committing to run through 2012.

    Frankly, Max would be daft to take the first option in the hopes of forcing FOTA into a rule structure that basically every team has indicated it doesn’t want to race under.

    With that said, this whole thing is seeming like one big power game for Max, and so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him continue to try and force the issue regardless. We can only hope, if that’s the course he chooses, that it results in his being ousted from power – he’d previously promised to quit anyway, and it has become increasingly clear as time goes on that F1 would be better without his constant meddling.

  13. Ron Colverson says:

    This whole thing just seems to get more and more bizarre. We have got 6 entries for next year’s F1 and 9 entries for – well what exactly?
    They haven’t entered for what’s on the table so technically they’ve not entered. I can’t believe that Brawn, Force India and (to an extent) McLaren will see this through to the bitter end and just stop, as they have no other reason for existing except going racing. They must be very sure that Max will cave in to the knife they’re holding at his throat.
    So where does that leave the 6 that want to race according to the published rules? Having laid their money down, don’t they now deserve to be taken into account? And what assurances did Dave Richards get from Bernie, for example?
    For my part, I actually like Max’s rules better than the teams’ as they look like they’d allow more innovation rather than the expensive tinkering that we have got now.
    This looks like it’s going to get very ugly before it gets better.

  14. monktonnik says:

    I am pretty disappointed with FOTA actually. I am sure that there are any number of reasons as to why they would be taking this stance, but I genuinely believed that all this was sorted out and that they had agreed a budget cap over 2 seasons.

    The whole idea of voluntary monitoring is, I feel, a joke. I am afraid it is tantamount to putting the lunatics in charge of the asylum!

  15. sean says:

    They have snookered him with 9 teams agreeing to stay until 2012 his whole argument goes out the window.Remember all this was from MAX saying that he had been told that teams were going to leave because it was to expensive to race.Now he has been shown to have made the whole thing up for what and why.They can’t reject the offer made by FOTA,turn over all these teams for new entrant’s that would be commercial suicide.
    [mod]

  16. Frenchie says:

    Excellent move from FOTA. One entry for nine teams. If their conditions are rejected, we’ll end up with:
    - Williams
    - Prodrive
    - USGPE
    - Lola
    - Campos
    - Meta1
    What a grid! I bet Nico Rosberg and Williams (the team I support) we’ll clinch the title by the time we reach Hungary. :-)
    Do you think Bernie’s employer (CVC) will let this happen? I doubt it.

    I personally believe the only reason for a budget cap is (a cynical one) for the benefit of the commercial right holders. After all, if F1 teams need less money to compete, why should Bernie give them more. Less (or the same amount) of money to distribute coupled with his ever increasing fees for circuits to keep their GP going year after year means CVC are getting improved return on investment.

    I reckon Ferrari, Toyota, BMW, Renault et al aren’t stupid enough to see this is not happening in the background.

  17. MartinWR says:

    It seems pretty obvious that FOTA, as expected, are still completely unable to agree on anything, except perhaps that they want a new Concorde agreement. As for a set of regulations that will reduce costs in the future, they have come up with nothing at all, because they are irrevocably split, so there is no progress whatsoever and no way forward. The “united front” is a sign of weakness, not strength, a sign that their collective response is simply more time-wasting.

    Hopefully the FIA will quietly point out to them that there can be no such thing as a block entry. Effectively, at best, nine teams have made a bid for two grid places. When, and if, this is ever sorted, some of the existing teams will now find themselves at the end of the queue behind new entrants, and consequently, without a place next year. Ferrari, with their court case, had backed themselves into corner from which they were unable extricate themselves. With this latest silly nonsense they have managed to extend that dubious privilege to the other teams, as they obviously always wanted to do.

    Yet again FOTA have demonstrated to the world precisely why Formula One needs a very, very, firm hand to set the rules, whether the teams like it or not. The world may well conclude from F1′s latest antics that Ferrari and Toyota have turned what was a pantomime into a puppet show. And the puppets are the other teams that have dutifully followed them over the brink.

  18. Richard says:

    I can’t see that the FIA are going to even recognize FOTA’s ‘entry’. The FIA asked for teams to sign on a specified set of conditions, and coming along and saying “Yes we are signing up, but to a different set of conditions” is not actually signing up is it? It’s nothing.

    I expect Max to wait a few days, then announce that none of the 9 FOTA teams have submitted a valid entry to 2010, and that now they have missed the deadline there are less than 9 spots left. Maybe he will hint that its first-come-first-served from here in, and sit back and watch the defections and self-destruction of FOTA.

  19. Roger W says:

    In my humble, grumpy old sod opinion, I actually read between the lines that what Ferarri are saying is that they are unable to compete at the front end of the grid without an open cheque book. Its well known that they appear to “buy” performance by chucking loads of money at their problems.

    Its great to see Brawn using engineering expertise rather
    than their cheque book to gain the albeit temporary advantage at present. I do believe that if there was a budget cap in place Ferrari would be mid field, with little chance of improvement.

    Standing by…..

  20. AdamT says:

    It seems interesting to me that we do not hear from Mosley for some days already. He used to comment almost immediatelly on every new FOTA move. As far as I can see he has not spoken publicly since Monako.
    Possibly he finally found himself under some internal (FIA) or external pressure. It would sure do well for F1 if there is “a force” to stop him.
    As far as F1 racing and cost reducing what we really need is stability. This seson is the best example of the unstable rules generating huge additional spendings. Multilevel diffusers, KERS, movable front wings equal extra millions of dollars. What is even more frustrating is that all those “inventions” did not improve racing a bit. Diffusers generate downforce that supposed to be reduced this season and make the air behind a car “dirty” thus making overtaking more difficult.
    KERS proved to be much more defensive device than offensive (what was its original purpose).
    I still did not hear any meaningful comment on the possibility of regulating the front wing – it seems like it does nothing good.
    F1 needs stability, and I do hope FOTA’s move is a step forward in a good direction.

  21. Rpaco says:

    Ferrari cannot accept a budget cap, if nothing else, because of their contract with Marlborough which runs to 2011.
    Tobacco advertising is banned but if someone is giving you $200M per year and you don’t even have to mention their name, just put the barcode on the rear wing how are you going to accept a budget cap which does not encompass even one of your sponsors?

    Delta Topcon is the most directly linked to F1, this is of course owned by CVC. Delta Topcon has the highest turnover per employee, higher than any FTSE 100 company. It will be them who have more influence than either FOTA or FIA on the final outcome.
    Interesting entry in Wikipedia that fount of dodgey facts. Look up CVC and the history may leave your head spinning. Its all about money, racing is incidental now, it’s become just a product to hang contracts upon. Sad innit! :-(

  22. Ross Dixon says:

    Adam T

    While I am no way a fan of Mosley I do agree with his stance on KERS. The aim was to bring green energy recovery to F1 so as to aid its development in the car industry. The idea that KERS isnt translatable sound stupid to me as it was always said that chasing max HP from an engine can easily be transfered to max fuel economy in the real world. Surely developing a ultra efficient energy recovery system can be transferred to F1. I also feel that if they upped the power boost and/or the length of time allowed to unlimited then KERS would be worth while and would force teams to use it. If one team develops a system that is 50% efficient and another 20% then surely the team with 50% should get a reward for being better engineers. Yes it would cost a lot but this tech could be then sold in car around the world from Toyotas to Ferraris.

    Also the diffuser as far as I am aware does not add to the dirty air. Dirty air is where a vacum is created behind the car and the air rushes in behind to fill the gap. The huge rear wings direct air upwards leaving a bigger void and so creating more disturbance. The underfloor doesnt create a void, in fact a diffuser’s purpose is to slow the air down to match the surrounding air. So if anything this could actually reduce the wake.

    Personally I think Mosely has the biggest desision to make of his FIA presidency. If he fails to agree to FOTA we will see the end of F1 as we know it.

  23. Peter says:

    Pardon me if I am wrong, but I am under the impression that the FIA have agreements with the tracks to guarantee 16 cars?

    So they legally cant throw out FOTA as long as they stay united?

    Also with the exception of Prodrive, do any of the other teams have the expertise or technical ability to construct a formula 1 racing car (regardless of budget)?

    With teams that have graduated from other teams they have been effectively running off-the-shelf cars with no manufacturing involved (for example GP2). That’s a far cry from the supercomputing F.E. analysis and composite technologies that are required by formula 1.

    Peter

  24. Richard Mee says:

    This comes down to a straight ideology contest between those who think the teams are being childish on one side and those who want to stop Max in his tracks on the other. Thing is that without the prospect of an alternative series Max still holds all the aces and i believe that FOTA won’t stand-up to the pressure of musical chairs with the remaining places – at the end of the day these teams are competitors to the end.

    If they want to push this the whole slog – and I really hope they do cos i’m fed up with Max and his “I never lose a battle” ego trip… they really should start publically talking to global circuits and making it clear that there is a serious alternative to the FIA’s “official” incarnation of 2010 F1

    This is essential to steady the nerve of the pure racing teams and ultimately maintain FOTA.

  25. The Kitchen Cynic says:

    or unable?

  26. Roberto says:

    Dear Blech, money is always a sweetener, but i think at this point what FOTA is trying to do is regain control over a sport were they manage 70% of the show, the other 30% is handled by FOM and the race promoters.

    How on earth will somebody invest billions of dollars over years and practically don’t have a say in the setting of the rules?. The Concorde Agreement will bring back stabillity to the rules, the F1 teams will have a greater participation in the sporting side and that probably will leave settle the commercial side of the sport.

    The budget cap will be a shoot in the foot, that will diminish seriously the value of the F1 brand and the value of the advertising spaces on the cars, why an sponsor will sign a 15 millions a year agreement if that is 30% of the total budget of the team?.

    The recession will bring down certain sponsors contract renovations, but F1 viewership is still high and it’s the single most watched sport on earth rivaled only by the world cup and the olympics (every four years each), so although the economic crisis, they will be able to earn good money from sponsorship. All this without budget cap of course.

  27. sd says:

    You’re correct – 4 teams will need to pair off.

  28. MichaelC says:

    Add Team Superfund to the list
    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/75753

    Interesting that they could lease facilities from an existing F1 organisation in the UK, which makes sense. How long before the teams that only have F1 as their core-business start doing the math and realise they could be out of the sport in 2010.

  29. Snail says:

    I’d have thought football would outrank F1.

  30. Frenchie says:

    Hey MartinWR,

    Are you Max Mosley in disguise? You might want to read their entry properly. The 9 teams are guaranteeing they’ll be there for at least 3 years which as it happen will coincide with the end of the financial crisis.

    By the way, you ought to know who puts money on the table to go racing: the teams.

    Don’t you think they are entitled to have a say in the rules?

  31. iceman says:

    I’m sure Brawn’s engineering expertise is considerable, but I suspect that the hundreds of millions that Honda spent last year on developing the car may also have some bearing on their current performance.

  32. iceman says:

    I read somewhere (sorry I can’t remember where) that an under-floor venturi/diffuser will produce a quarter of the drag (and therefore turbulence) that you would get from a wing producing a similar amount of downforce.

  33. iceman says:

    Well Lola certainly know how to build a racing car, and Campos have teamed up with Dallara, so that’s at least 2 more teams with the technical capability to build F1 cars. Whether they will be fast F1 cars is another question of course. Whatever you do, don’t mention Mastercard! I did once but I think I got away with it :)

  34. James Allen says:

    Nice line, Iceman!

    I remember that 1997 Lola -the first time it hit the track. Boy was it slow! You are right, with the F1 field currently separated by a second and a half at some venues, it would not be a good move to go back to the slowest car being six seconds off the pace.

  35. rpaco says:

    Last Lola I saw was a giant 6 litre sports. (Formula libre race) Driven by Ian Flux (or Ian Taylor) who promised to use only 2 gears after the start (2nd & 3rd) and still won by a clear length of the straight after ten laps of Brands Indy cct. Sounded wonderful. It was many years back in my middle age.

  36. Peter says:

    Thank you very much for your reply.

    After reading it I did a little research and came across this page, its a very interesting explanation of the MC Lola project (the rest of the site is pretty entertaining too!).

    http://f1rejects.com/teams/lola/profile.html

    Peter

  37. iceman says:

    You should check out events like the Historic Masters and the HSCC Historic Superprix at Brands, rpaco. Still plenty of those old Lola sports cars being raced (they even started making them again!), and the odd Lola Formula 5000 car too.

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