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Comment of the week
Posted By:   |  04 Jun 2009   |  5:06 pm GMT  |  24 comments

I’m very grateful to readers for all their interesting comments. We have a very high level of debate going on here.

We’ve had 86 comments already on the FOTA story and plenty on the new teams story as well. It seems to be really energising people and getting them thinking.

There seems to be a really interesting divide between people who cannot imagine F1 changing from what it is now with the teams we have now and people, perhaps with longer memories, who kind of hanker after the uncomplicated, bare knuckle F1 of the old days, which may or ay not be delivered by the budget cap plan and the teams it seems to be attracting. I still think that F1 will be too difficult for all but a tiny handful of these teams who have entered for next year. Just building a car is hard enough let alone a competitive one..

I’ve picked out one comment, which is written by an F1 insider, someone who works for one of the teams. His screen name is Fanatic and he makes some very valid points.

He writes:
“With all the arguments for and against the cap most people are looking at this through the window of there tv’s.
As somebody who has worked in the sport for a number of years and has worked from small teams through to a major manufacturer team if you were to see it from the inside you could see that the sport cannot be justified at the spending levels.

The amount of cash at these big teams is obscene compared to the smaller teams, we’ve all ready got a 2 tear system due to cash flow alone which people seem to be missing in all this.

Brawn are good this year but there car was developed by honda and the use of 4 wind tunnels across the globe and masses of development and cash. Not to take anything away from brawn, but if it it was down to there budget alone i am pretty certain it wouldn’t be where it is today as the rate of development is down to how much cash and facilities you have to push your designs.

For the sport and the ability for all teams to compete on a level playing field the budget cap is the best thing for F1, look at all the new teams that are looking to get in? it stirs excitment in an industry which was looking down in the recession, small new teams with that personal touch not 800 staff ‘factories’ pushing out 5 cars a season. Who would have thought of all these new entries 2 months ago?

Perhaps i’ve talked myself out of a job when this is all done and wrapped up on June the 12th? whatever happens i’m sure common sense in a world which seems to have lost it will prevail!”

Thanks for taking part, Fanatic.

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24 Comments
  1. parrafone says:

    Forgive me for being cynical here James but it sure looks like this ‘insider’ could do with a lesson in grammar! :)

    The points made, though, are somewhat interesting. Personally I can’t see these privateer teams bringing the level of quality we have had over the past few years. I think we could easily see the rebirth of grids being separated by 3-4 seconds, unlike the 1-2 second bracket we have currently.

    That is, of course, on the proviso that Mad Max doesn’t “lend a helping hand” to those at the back of the grid, an argument which he has already arrogantly made and attempted to force onto the teams.

  2. martin says:

    Of course there is always a two tier championship. Let’s imagine there is a budget cap next year Don’t you think that everyone would like to have Adrian Newey then?
    For me the current problem is that Mosley seems to think that major manufacturers can decrease their budget in less than 12 months up to 90%.

    Also have people noticed how the talk has shifted from “prevent the current teams leaving” into “getting new blood” after FOTA agreed to participate 3 more years?

    The main problem is not so much about budget cap but the governance of series.

    For instance Max can radically change rules how drivers championship is won few weeks before the first race, can demand that large teams cut their budget up to 90% in one year or face racing for places 15+ yet teams, FIA and Ecclestone can’t make new Concorde agreement (or modify old) in 2 weeks?

  3. C.D. says:

    “The amount of cash at these big teams is obscene compared to the smaller teams, we’ve all ready got a 2 tear system due to cash flow alone which people seem to be missing in all this.”

    I’m glad someone finally pointed this out. I guess it takes an insider …

  4. roberto says:

    The common sense is that F1 is not sustainable at the current levels of spending, but I can’t believe and F1 insider agreeing with a budget cap of 40 million euros, how on earth can you build and develop an F1 car, acquire the latest Kers technology, the best engineers, etc with that “little” money.
    The insider has not stop also to think F1 as today is so global due the investments the manufacturers have done over the years. Most F1 fans will welcome new teams, but they need to show they have the technical and financial credentials to compete there as always was, not because they are able to pull up a budget of 40 million plus.

    Sponsors fees will be diluted, and the value of the F1 brand will go down the drain.

    Maybe this is what the FIA or Mosley wants to rebuy cheap the commercial rights, who knows…

  5. Mike Wessel says:

    I don’t think anyone has a problem with a cap. The problem is with the implementation of it. Slamming it through with no regard for the economics of the teams in F1 now is wrong.
    The teams are saying we want a cap but it needs to be a glide to the number, this seems hard for everyone to hear.
    THE TEAMS WANT THE CAP!
    New teams are great but it’s as though Max thinks this wonder of a $40,000,000.00 cap will bring us only a load of new Ferraris and McLarens, a lot of new top teams. Haha, I seem to remember so many Fondmetals and Fortecks, Simteks, Andrea Moda (with parts falling off), they couldn’t get out of pre qualifing.
    How can Fanatic say he might be out of a job. I would think if he is any good at what he does he will have a pick of them, 10 new teams times how many staff?
    Again the cap is good, the implentation is terrible.

  6. sean says:

    I see the point that that fanatic has made but the reality is that this is sport.People want to win they want to be the best and to achieve this in F1 you have to spend money,by just saying that everyone will be equal will never work .The history of the sport has always been that the team’s with the most resources are at the sharp end.Budget caps do not work and has been proven in sport’s all around the world . When a sport changes to this format it damages the sport’s profile and perception in the public & fans eyes.

  7. Alan says:

    So punish good teams and manufacturers for being good at their job? What the hell is this- Communism!?!?!?

    Your doing to good a job, and are too profitable? Why punish this trait!?!??!

    This is motorsport ISN’T supposed to be a LEVEL playing field!

    IMO if a company can’t afford F1 and it dies becaus eteams can’t do it… well fair enough.. let it go… or just start your own series… but thuis level playing field talk is very distressing. Being someone that has been involved in karting for 20 years this ‘level playing talk’ has practically wrecked the sport.

    You either let teams spend what they want or stop all together. The TEAMS will spend their extra cash flow to find ways to beat the system no matter how regulated you make it!

  8. Seymour Quilter says:

    I could not agree more to that comment, and I DO have a long memory, back to the 1990′s when the car manufacturers only supplied engines! F1 racing teams must exist only to race in F1, not be a small part of a marketing strategy, like BMW, Toyota, Renault, etc. F1 will always be (for me) about Williams, McLaren, and yes even Ferrari. So I believe Max is correct and has the only sensible solution. Self regulation as proposed by FOTA does not work, just look at the Banking crisis and the MPs expenses scandal for examples of how well self regulation works!

  9. Alex says:

    Apparently some of these teams are lodging in entries with the hope of receiving technical support from the manufucture teams. Some have even openly commented on this prospect.

    I believe the Max (and let’s not naively say “the FIA”, since this whole debacle is a brainchild of this one man) will in his ego forego any standards as might previously have been required to admit a team into F1, just to prove his point.

  10. ddae says:

    I think a budget cap should be brought in, and I think that the teams aren’t against it in principle either.
    BUT NOT NEXT SEASON!

    Asking any company to lay off a >50% of its staff instantly would cost them an absolute fortune and is unfair to the teams, to the employees, and to competition. Cutting your budget by 90% in one go and maintaining your high standards is just not feasible.

    Do it gradually over the next few seasons if needs be, but forcing it in against every current team’s wishes is asking for trouble, and I hope the FIA get it. I don’t think the teams want to be spending £400m+ a season if they don’t have to.

  11. Jesse says:

    I haven’t heard any real talk of a breakaway series, aside from the odd whisper here and there. This is all a hypothetical exercise at the moment, but what happens if Max does in fact reject the provisional entries of FOTA? Do the 9 teams attempt to put together a separate series that would be billed as the new pinnacle of motorsport? If they carried with them the names of Ferrari, Alonso, ect., combined with the shedded cost of the FIA and FOM, could they legitimately form a commercially viable series? Or would it turn into what we had in the states between IRL and CART?

  12. Jon says:

    I have no problems with the cap. I have problems with the way they have been rushed through though. And had big problems with the two tier system but thankfully that is a thing of the past.

    The only people I think who could be completely opposed to the cap are fans of Ferrari or Toyota (or maybe McLaren) since their success seems so closely tied to their wallets.

    The politics though is sickening. Why does F1 have to be so dramatic all the time? Why do leaders of the sport (and I’m talking more about Max then anyone else) need hog the limelight instead of the ontrack action? Why does this blog feature more talk about politics then about on track action? It’s sickening.

    I think the post by the apparent insider (I hope you checked for confirmation through phone/email) had some good points but it was very short sighted. The teams spend so much, so therefore everything else is forgotten? It’s such a complicated issue that not even 10 pages could cover it. But who could be bothered trying to explain it when no one would read that much anyway.

    I would like to see a cap at a reasonable price, something like 60-100 million scaled down over time, AND I would like to see the croneyism, old farts (which Max ironically mentioned a few days ago) and dictatorship of F1 be phased out, and for F1 to become like any other sport. A breakaway series would only solve half the problem. I would like to see F1 be brought to the 21st century in terms of coverage, and technology (official website with onboard streams and team radio and telemetry for subscribed price, improved like timing with more detailed sector times, better TV coverage, HD for example).

    F1 claims to be pinnacle of motorsport but it could really learn alot from USA motorsport in so many ways. Coverage, leadership, lack of politics, the list goes on. Even MotoGP is ahead.

  13. jed says:

    Budget caps is the wrong way to go. The FIA should standardize the aero bits that costs a fortune to develop such as the floor and Free-up development of other components which can be sold to customer teams such as the engines provided that these components that can be developed must be made available to the manufacturer’s customer teams. Thus, if for example Ferrari come out with a new more powerful motor, they can only use it provided that it is made available to toro rosso on the same race without any additional cost to their contract for the supply of engines. Hence, there will be some kind of mandatory assistance for the smaller teams.

  14. A.K. says:

    Gordon Bennett, that’s a much more insightful comment than firing off a few backhanded compliments from the peanut gallery. Does he win a copy of the book too?
    ;-)

    Seriously, this sort of thing is why this place has become my first stop for F1 reaction and analysis, and it’s a great example of how blogs and the internet can be used for good when they’re not under the control of lazy bandwagon-chasing idiots burbling about how “Web 2.0″ means they don’t have to do any work any more…

  15. Spenny says:

    One has to wonder at the validity of the entries – and one has to wonder why this year the FIA have not issued a press release of the provisional entries.

    It is worth doing a calculation on the current budgets of all the F1 teams vs. a capped but full entry to the revised cap. I think it works out somewhere about a halving of total F1 team spending say £1,200m to £600m – that makes a dent not just in the teams but in the support infrastructure – sounds like a lot of redundancies to me. Remember that the FIA effectively killed Cosworth with the engine freeze. It also makes stories like this http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/oxfordshire/8083720.stm on the BBC seem like FIA/Bernie propaganda rather than a genuine “won’t this be good for the industry” story.

    There are also a lot of disaffected tracks out there, Silverstone, Indianapolis, France, Monaco(!!) who have no loyalty or even contracts with Bernie, together with many who want out, so it would not be unimaginable for the FOTA 1 series to field a series even without getting into a battle with contracted tracks, who may or may not have illegitimate anti-competitive clauses in their contracts with FOM. The FOTA teams have vast marketing and negotiating experience, so it is not infeasible for them to quickly put together a series. Would you rather watch FOTA 1 with the FOTA teams, or F1 with a bunch of wannabe business men who seem to be putting forward speculative entries.

    One thing you should be asking James, is whether the FIA has got the entry fees to go with the letters, and what business relationships has Bernie got with any of these “teams”.

  16. phil says:

    The whole problem with f1 is the funding arrangements, the FIA and Bernie. This is the only sport world wide, that doesn’t get an equitable amount of payment for putting on the show.

    The premier league pays top flight teams massive amounts of dollars because they create the spectacle.

    F1 teams are getting screwed plain and simple.

    90% of all revenue should go to the teams. That is over and above the budget cap and teams make loads of money.

    Capping is a joke, standardisation of parts is the best way to cap cost. Limit development to certain aera’s. How can a cap works across different countries, with different $$ values, and production cost. A suspension upright on a Ferrari may cost 100 euro, while on a williams may cost a 100 pounds. There is a difference in value as the dollar is not equal. Furthermore each country taxes are different, labor is different. This cannot be controlled by the FIA.

    If they standardise certain parts like engine, ecu, materials, wheels, rims, fuel tanks, etc etc there is one cost for all no matter where you live. Aero can be limited windtunnell testing hrs. Capping will never work. The big teams will always be big, but the FIA cannot force a big team to shed 200million from a budget overnight, this has massive implication within there relative corporations. Sacking staff is not a positive move.

  17. roberto says:

    Jesse’s comments are true, so I leave this for relection: Ferrari has provided the car for the A1 GP series, maybe they will negotiate something in the name of Fota to acquire part of the series and the national teams and convert it in the new F1???

  18. Alex M says:

    What a load of rubbish, look at Football, Basketball, Baseball, Tennis, all controlled by basic Economics, as is F1.

    The “Budget cap” and new “teams” are just ruses used by a deranged egotistical bully to continue his unleasant fetish for domination and personal Vendettas. The fact that this is ruining the sport seems to go right over many heads.

  19. LameDuck says:

    A1GP is not the right p[lace for the ferarri brand. I read somewhere that they’ve started a LeMans program, that is a much better fit for them, in the absence of F1.

    I long for the old days when clever engineers built a car in the garden shed and blew the wheels of everyone, but it’s not the same sport now. F1 has changed and the budget cap won’t take it back, it’ll just ruin it :-(

  20. Glen says:

    You make some interesting points in your ITV article. FOTA may break away and race at the older tracks like Silverstone and Imola with their advanced technology and highly competitive machinery. The official championship will consist of budget capped teams with weaker build cars and weaker competition; racing around at those awful modern circuits like Bahrain and China. Funny. I enjoy the sport but I can live without it if it breaks up.

  21. Jon says:

    Yes, great point. It punishes the teams and manufacturers who have invested in F1 for all of these years. This is somewhat inevitable with the cost cutting measures which the teams agree upon, and they recognise this.

    However what you speak of, is one step too far in my opinion, and gives the new teams too much of a leg up, while punishing the existing teams too much. Creating some kind of new artificial formula where you don’t earn your competitiveness, the same ways teams before them have.

  22. George says:

    This is how I see it too, the cap was far too low to begin with, and I think everyone was expecting it to have expanded by now but it hasn’t.

    The thing is, even if the new teams couldn’t reach the cap for the first year (say it was placed at £120m), it would still be a step in the right direction. The teams that come it at £40m would still be under about the same disadvantage as they are now, but the manufacturer teams would be spending significantly less.

    Obviously the crux of this problem is ‘how much can the teams do for £40m’, but from what I’ve seen the people that were in the sport before spending got out of control think that it is quite doable.

  23. MartinWR says:

    The FOTA entries have in effect been rejected, because they were not entries. They never merited even a moment’s serious consideration. At best they were entries to a championship which does not exist, a championship run to rules Ferrari and Toyota imagined, not the 2010 championship rules. They were no more in fact than a political machination, designed to waste time so that new teams will not have the time to required to build the cars for next season. The ruse signally failed.

    The FIA were not frightened by all the grandstanding. As the ruling body they could not afford to be anyway, else their authority would have crumbled. However, the consequences of Montezemolo’s mischief making will be extremely serious if some of the existing teams end up by being excluded next year at the end of this awful and unnecessary fiasco. Of course Ferrari will themselves not suffer that fate as they are legally required to enter next year anyway. How ironic that is, bearing in mind that they have dropped the other eight teams in it, and some (or maybe even all) of those teams will be the ones to suffer. But no, not Ferrari. And remember, all this has come about because for once the spoilt brat of F1 didn’t get its way.

    Ferrari turned FOTA into a trade union for top people, a trade union for achievers, the top achievers of Formula One. They should have known better and stuck to something they were a bit better at, building racing cars. Truly this was an ill-starred and inappropriate contrivance. Like all trade unions it will end up destroying the very industry it parasitises. Frank Williams was not taken in by it for one second. Good for him.

    As for F1′s “perennial under-achievers”, Toyota, they have successfully engineered a marvellous face-saving excuse for their parent company to quit F1 and cut their enormous losses, losses which bought them no results in all the time they raced. That excuse will be the governance of the sport, a governance they strove mightily to bring into disrepute by their own wretched politicking.

  24. Rich says:

    Fully agree with you Martin. The current situation is long past being about budget capping. It is about taking a stand against Mad Max and his poor governance of this sport.

    As far as I can see his motives for continuing are self-serving; originally his appointment was a coup to allow his old mukker Bernard to take over the sport for his own substantial financial gains. It also affords him the sort of political role that his surname prevents him from getting in mainstream politics.

    As far as I am concerned he has done nothing positive for the sport in nearly two-decades of governance – with the notable exception of his work on safety.

    James:

    Your insider talks of a two-tier budget system. If the 50% of the sport’s wealth that currently is siphoned out were to be reinvested would this allow a serious racing outfit, with moderate sponsorship to race in F1 for a profit? If racing for £40 million p.a. could be profitable then a budget cap would surely not be necessary, and entering into the sport would be an attractive proposition.

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