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FOTA goes for breakaway, F1 holds its breath
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FOTA goes for breakaway, F1 holds its breath
Posted By:   |  19 Jun 2009   |  6:35 am GMT  |  106 comments

“If you are going to bark, you need to be prepared to bite.” This is what a member of one of the FOTA teams said to me yesterday afternoon, with respect to the threat of leaving Formula 1 and forming a breakaway series.

Shortly after midnight FOTA made the announcement that many had feared was coming and which takes the sport into unchartered waters. The teams met at the Renault HQ near Oxford prior to making their announcement. They will have done so with a heavy heart but had to do it, really. It was put up or shut up time and as the spirit of team unity has survived through the winter and the early part of the season, despite the diffuser row and various other challenges. I have seen them get progressively more angry as this row has gone on.

“(The) teams.. have no alternative other than to commence the preparation for a new Championship which reflects the values of its participants and partners, ” says the statement. “This series will have transparent governance, one set of regulations, encourage more entrants and listen to the wishes of the fans, including offering lower prices for spectators worldwide, partners and other important stakeholders. The major drivers, stars, brands, sponsors, promoters and companies historically associated with the highest level of motorsport will all feature in this new series.”

Of course ‘commencing preparation’ for a new series is not the same as closing the door on F1 and walking away. The teams expect a compromise to be found and are trying to force it. It has always been the case that if they stay together they can achieve something, but if they allow themselves to be split they will fail. So they have gone for it and put the ball back in the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone’s court. This is going to cause damage to F1 whatever happens. There could be a swift resolution, through negotiation, after all the gaps between the two sides are not that great and both want to achieve the same things. The gap is ideology and increasingly the FOTA teams have come to resent the way in which the FIA has governed in this situation.

Last week, when the entry list was published with Ferrari and the two Red Bull teams on it and the other FOTA teams conditional, FOTA appealed over the head of Mosley to the FIA senate and World Council. This was the equivalent of saying that there could only be a solution if Mosley is removed from his position.

Since then there has been a round of mud-slinging and name calling both in press statements and in press conferences. It got highly personal with Mosley and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo at the forefront of it all.

Today is the FIA’s deadline for finding a solution and FOTA have pre-empted the action by issuing the statement in the night, allowing a day of frantic diplomacy to take place. It is going to be one of those very dramatic days in the paddock.

TV executives will be really alarmed. They see the numbers on F1, get the commercial proposition and sign off cheques for tens of millions of pounds a year. But many of them do not understand the sport and will not be happy to face the prospect of holding the rights to a series which on the face of it has Williams, Force India and some new teams. Circuit owners and regional governments will feel the same way. And this will not make it any easier for Donington to find investment.

Of course the FIA is confident that it has a binding contract with Ferrari to race in F1 and if this continues, that contract will have to be tested in a court of law.

“FOTA is proud that it has achieved the most substantial measures to reduce costs in the history of our sport. ” says the statement. “In particular the manufacturer teams have provided assistance to the independent teams, a number of which would probably not be in the sport today without the FOTA initiatives. The FOTA teams have further agreed upon a substantial voluntary cost reduction that provides a sustainable model for the future.

“Following these efforts all the teams have confirmed to the FIA and the commercial rights holder that they are willing to commit until the end of 2012. The FIA and the commercial rights holder have campaigned to divide FOTA. The wishes of the majority of the teams are ignored.

“Furthermore, tens of millions of dollars have been withheld from many teams by the commercial rights holder, going back as far as 2006. Despite this and the uncompromising environment, FOTA has genuinely sought compromise. It has become clear however, that the teams cannot continue to compromise on the fundamental values of the sport and have declined to alter their original conditional entries to the 2010 World Championship. ”

A lot of the focus will now fall on Bernie Ecclestone, the 78 year old chief executive of the body which holds the commercial rights to the sport. He has threatened a hailstorm or writs if the teams took this step. His reaction and that of the FIA will be interesting. They have pushed FOTA to this point to see what they would do. But did they really think they would go for it?

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106 Comments
  1. Albo says:

    Good on FOTA, i have every confidence they can create a thrilling championship. F1 was all about competition, technological advancement, the pinnacle of racing, without perceived favouritism. Yes there can be some budget retraining, but the FIA has been draconian in its approach and rulings. No wonder, as its run by Mosley and Ecclestone who are now simply out of touch.

    A1 managed to set up a good championship, so i am sure FOTA can too. I look forward to it, and please broadcast in HD, something that should already be done with F1 but isnt, at least not in the UK.

  2. David says:

    Hopefully will mean you back on the screen, James!

  3. Ross Dixon says:

    YYYYYEEEEEEESSSSSSSS!

    I hope they dont negociate. Mosley has had long enough. If he goes then fair enough but failing that I want a breakaay with innovation and transparity

  4. Treaded Lurgy says:

    SO if it all goes ahead what are FOTA going to call it. F1 is already taken and I can’t see Bernie et al giving that up.
    TV execs may well be alarmed but those channels who no longer show F1 ………ummm like ITV :-) may well end up with rights for the regime if the price is right! Hey you might get your old job back James! Huzzah!

  5. tom says:

    James, if the FIA does have Ferria under a contract that binds them to compete couldn’t Ferria put in a small team under the budget cap and take their drivers and most of their money to the new breakaway series??
    and how do you see Max and Bernie responding?
    thanks

  6. martin_tf says:

    I have a feeling that this is closer to the beginning, than the end of the real dispute. Hopefully there won’t be too much damage to top level motor sport in the long run.

    I am actually starting to come round to the idea of the FOTA championship and a fresh start.

  7. Gary Davies says:

    BCE would, and I apologise for the coarse allusion, have used considerable amounts of his Supersoft toilet paper over the last 48 hours.

  8. Betbotpro says:

    Wow what a move by FOTA, got to hand it to them thats got to be a blow for FIA and FOM. However pesonally i think it is the right move.

    Bring back those great tracks! Lower admission fees will enable me to go and see one now.

  9. Snail says:

    And this will not make it any easier for Donington to find investment.

    I think that destroys Donnington’s revamp. Attendance at Bernie’s new Farce 1 competition round next year will be non existent.

    RIP British GP, this Silverstone looks like being the last F1 GP for some time.

  10. Padeepa says:

    Hi James,
    I enjoy reading your blog, but less so this year… everyone is forgetting the supporter’s that allow this group of self-indulgent people to go motor racing. They are becoming irrelevant. I will switch F1 off.
    Padeepa

  11. Andrew McKendry says:

    Although the entire population of the world seems to be either “Go FOTA!” or “It’s sad but inevitable/necessary”.

    FOTA are no heroes in this debate. I’m still clueless as to why everyone is supporting them – yes, they have a very valid point and yes the FIA are making mistakes and problems out of little, but a breakaway championship will destroy both sports and do nothing but harm fans.

    FOTA breaking away will destroy the sport for the fan before is solves any problems. At least the heavy handed FIA approach attempted to solve before alienation.

  12. Rob Smith says:

    I think just about every hardened F1 fan just like FOTA has had enough of their much loved sport being ruled by two geriatric dictators. It’s time for a change, a new look, breath of fresh air. Over the past couple of years we have seen the most appalling race decisions by the unqualified FIA stewards and Mosley has proved to be a stubborn old B that despite telling all he would stand down at the next election following his controversy showed he never had any such intension, you can’t get rid of a guy like this, even whipping him brings a smile of satisfaction to his face.

    With change comes the excitement of the unknown and the opportunity for the new series to put right a lot of the recent wrongs and you never know we might be listening to James back on ITV next year instead of the peice of wood on the beeb, now that would be great.

  13. MartinWR says:

    At least they’ll be racing without the crazy KERS millstone around their necks. That represents a potential saving to them of hundreds of millions they won’t have to throw needlessly straight down the drain. And that’s about the only positive thing to come out of this debacle. What a pity Formula One had to be wrecked in the process.

  14. Joaquín Correa says:

    What if they don’t sign in and Mosley gets dumped in October, Would the new president of FIA try to get FOTA back to F1? Do you know how is the rest of the federation seeing Max’s acts? I hope they don’t see him as a hero because then nothing would change when he gets out.

  15. George from Durham says:

    Ferrari contract – Surely Ferarri could simply send a long a skelton team to race this years cars in the F1 championship whilst under contract and race in the new series. Is this not the case?

  16. Alex says:

    All dictatorships are at risk from revolution.

  17. Tuan says:

    Good Riddance, this is what happens when you turn a sport into a commercial nonsense.

    I could see this happening in Football, where Platini introducing salary caps, causing clubs to breakaway

  18. Luciano says:

    Good to see the teams sticking together against the bullying of Max Mosley.

    I hope there isn’t a breakaway, but if that is the only way to get rid of Max and Bernie, get some sensible rules, and the teams racing on circuits they should be racing on, then so be it.

  19. Joaquín Correa says:

    Oh sorry one more thing is FOTA going to race the following GPs? If I were them I would leave now just to show them how the ratings will go down when all these great teams disappear next year.

  20. phil c says:

    People have questioned what are the chances of FOTA succeeding. I have no doubt that FOTA world series will eclipse f1 in an instant.

    This whole episode has been about money and power. Now lets look at this properly . F1 teams get only 50% of tv revenue approx $500 million divided amongst 10 teams. Bernie and CVC (which im lead to believe Bernie owns a huge share in) keeps the other $500 million. On top of that tracks on average pay $40 million a race. Monaco is $0 and Monza pays bugger all. Over a year say we average on $35 million per track, that $575 million dollars a year just in track fee. In addition to this, another one of Bernie companies owns the track advertising and the paddock club. This is reportedly worth another $600 to $700 million. Then there is all the other bits and pieces, like f1 branding etc. All in all it is reported to be worth around $2.5 billion a year. The teams individually are lucky to see 50 million each.
    Starting a new series will be very simple. There are 100’s of tracks world wide that will host a race for 20million, thats $340 million just in tracks. Tracks can turn a profit at $100 per person per race weekend.

    Tv rights will be huge, not $1 billion as current but at least $500 million, in addition to that we have sponsors and paddock club fee which is worth another $500million. All in all we have a product worth, 1.5billion. All the teams own an even stake and they get 100 million each plus car sponsor ship. 500 million is set aside for running cost (which is huge when generally it is only 15% at most.)
    Sponsors will pay as much as they currently pay and tv networks will jump on the band wagon as quick as they did when the teams were racing under the f1 umbrella. The teams are the ones that make f1 not Bernie, max or CVC.
    The jewel in the crown for FOTA is Monoco. The prince of monoco said he would not host a race without the big teams. My understanding is there is no contract with Bernie and if FOTA get monoco f1 is dead well and truly. The teams need to do this now, or else we have the same problem in 3 years time. Bernie could side with the teams and sell the rights to them inturn they would control it.

  21. Phil says:

    Breakaway series, eh? I know it’s more of a bargaining position right now but, based on tactics so far, the FIA was either convinced FOTA wouldn’t go this far, or they were banking on it.

    Let’s assume that Ferrari & Red Bull really are going to have to race in the FIA series next year. This would leave the remaining five FOTA teams and possibly Lola to compete in the FOTA series.

    Like it or not, for many the “real” Formula One would be where Ferrari races, so the breakaway series would find life a bit difficult until Ferrari have seen out their contract and can jump ship. Presumably the organisers would have to practically give away the commercial rights for a couple of years to ensure coverage, despite having the biggest sponsors and nearly all the best drivers. In the mean time, you can bet Bernie will be doing everything he can to make sure his show is the one people watch.

    James, do you think the solidarity that has got FOTA this far would extend as far as the five “conditional” FOTA teams hanging around for a couple of years (racing, obviously, but not necessarily to great acclaim) waiting for Ferrari & Red Bull to join them?

  22. Snail says:

    Are Force India using Mercedes engines for 2010?

    If so, and McLaren and Brawn are using Mercedes engines for 2010, but in the breakaway series, what are the chances the engine spec will be different?

    So Mercedes will have to bring more effort in to supply engines in the that fashion. Will this require a change in gearboxes for some of the teams?

    Changing tack, CVC must feel like they are walking on quicksand at the moment.

  23. Paul says:

    The fact that 8 out of 10 existing F1 teams are talking about walking is a clear indictment of the way the sport is being run.

    Bernie can tan talk about writs if he likes but it’s almost tacit admission that he hasn’t been doing his job properly. If he had then the teams wouldn’t want to leave. If the only thing keeping them there is a contract then someone has dropped the ball.

  24. Rick says:

    “Following these efforts all the teams have confirmed to the FIA and the commercial rights holder that they are willing to commit until the end of 2012.”

    I don’t really follow this. Every article says FOTA wants to breakaway next season. How does the 2012 fit in?

    I am confused and I admit it!

  25. Suzy says:

    FIA’s response is like “so, good bye then”. I’m not sure if any party is ready for compromsie at this point. To me it seems to be over.

    Next round is the fight for Ferrari and in which series they will have to race. FIA will fight for them, I’m sure. However nobody can be forced to race. Even if they will be forced legally to show up in F1 races, they can show up and make a mockery out of it, while taking their real team to the FOTA series.

  26. SmA says:

    I have stopped watching F1 this season as it has become stale.

    Although I want Jenson to Win. I just don’t like the series anymore.

    A breakaway series will be very nice.

    BBC can keep F1. I hope ITV takes the rights for this series and James comes back !

  27. Vidge says:

    Well should this go ahead, i will be watching the FOTA series, as the important thing to me is the teams and drivers, not the Max and Bernie show.

    Besides i lost all faith in the FIA when the tried to impose the Medals system, dispite FOTA coming up with a perfectly decent points system, that the FANS had surgested!

    At least FOTA seem to realise that without the people that watch the sport, there is NO SPORT!

    I cant wait for CVC to go bust, once no one watchs the “FIA F1″ and then FOTA can buy the rights to the F1 name and that will be that!

  28. David Law says:

    Max has lost it and it has become personal. He has to go, I hope Bernie will convince him to go, it is long overdue.

    go FOTA!

  29. PhilW says:

    You must have been up early this morning, James!

    I’m no soothsayer but I can’t see this split turning out any more successfully than the Indy Racing League/CART split of the 1990s. FOTA may have their Ferraris, McLarens, Alonsos, Hamiltons etc but Old F1 (what else can I call it?) has 60 years of history, Monaco, Williams, as well as watertight contracts with all the major broadcasters. And how long before Bernie starts scaring circuit owners and broadcasters in his unpleasant way. Neither side holds all the aces and neither will be as strong as a united F1.

    I’ve also got a question for you about Ferrari’s appearance in next year’s F1 Championship. If they are forced, through the courts, to compete against their will is there anything stopping them from turning up in a couple of Fiat transit vans, qualifying at the back of the grid and making a total mockery of Old F1?

    Phew, strange times.

    Phil

  30. Fausta says:

    Well here we are, the dust must settle one way or the other.
    There are interesting prospects either way this goes, but one thing is certain, the drama on the track with take a back seat once again. Good for FOTA to call Max’s hand and perhaps those above Max will step in. An interesting day is in store for us all.

  31. Grabyrdy says:

    The teams want Bernie to salvage his empire by getting rid of Max. Will he ? And can he ?

    I’ve never really understood the current relationship between these two, which is no doubt suits both of them. Any thoughts James ? Anyone ?

  32. rpaco says:

    Well it’s what most of us were expecting, both sides had taken positions it was impossible to back a way from without looking like wimps and for some principles involved it seems to be a machismo/ego thing.

    But ahead we have a weekend of racing at our 2nd best track in the series (Spa being the best when it’s allowed in) and our home event with massive attention and national as well as sporting press present . Will anyone be talking about the racing?

  33. Iain Thacker says:

    Looks like I couldn’t have been more wrong yesterday in saying in the comments that I expected the teams to blink first.

    I am in part pleased the teams are showing some serious solidarity – there are some areas in F1 I’d like ot see a big change in. The rule making does need some stability – the FIAs golden child, KERS, has turned out to be a waste of time and money. The circuits should be seeing decent income from hosting a race without having to gouge the fans for the privilege.

  34. Jason C says:

    If Ferrari and the Monaco GP both end up in the same championship, then that championship will ‘win’. It doesn’t matter who the referee is, or who’s signature is on a TV contract.

    However, I think there’s a long way to go yet until a breakaway series is formed. It’s just brinkmanship right now.

  35. Steve says:

    this is the worst thing that could have happened, im no fan of max believe me but this is not a good thing.

    something similar to this happened in america 14 years ago and it totally destroyed open wheel racing over there. we had the cart series, it was the biggest motorsport series in america and was growing worldwide, even bernie saw it as a threat to f1 on a world stage.

    in 1996 there was a split the irl was formed and that split fans, sponsors, tracks, teams and drivers and did a massive ammount of damage to both sides. before anyone knew it neither series meant anything anymore and both had become catasrophically smaller than when they were one series. by the time they merged last year both were largely irrelevant and nascar has used the split to become the largest motorsport series in america when prior to the split it was below indycar racing.

    if fota go through with this both f1 and the fota series will suffer and neither will be as strong as they were before, running on the cart-irl split in 5 years attendance for both will be dropping and tv viewing will also be plummeting. cart had the teams, drivers and the manufacturer’s and it didnt help them one bit.

    i dont see why anyone see’s this as a good decision!

  36. Tom Gower says:

    Is that your voice I hear on T.V again Mr Allen Good Luck!

  37. Gav says:

    im heading up to silverstone later on for sat/sun its going to be a very interesting atmosphere!!!

  38. StJimmyL says:

    So, Formula Zero is here – I own intellectual property rights to that by the way!

    Michael Schumacher has won NO world titles in the top flight of motorsport – He’s a nobody!!! Will this lead to his comeback???

    Jenson Button, the man who won the last of the historic Formula 1 World Championships crusades to be the first to win the new series…

    Fernando Alonso & Kimi Raikkonen are never happy with anything – so who cares!?!?!

    Rubens Barrichello finally secures the lead drive at the only team left in GP2, sorry, err Formula 1..

    Could this be the turning point for everything? Can we go and watch a race for £50, can we view in HD and with ghost cars and follow the driver of our choice like Bernie has promised for years…

    I’m all for it – it will be sad to delete all that history though!!!

    If it does happen, F1 needs to die quickly – we cant have an Indy/Champ Car scenario on our hands!!!!

    See you at The Stone!

  39. Jakob says:

    “FOTA is proud that it has achieved the most substantial measures to reduce costs in the history of our sport. ”

    Nice to see they still have a sense of humour despite all the drama.

    I can’t see how this breakaway series could possible succeed. Ferrari, Red Bull, and Toro Rosso would be sued for hundreds of millions and possibly barred from competing.

    I also find it hard to imagine the boards of car manufacturers paying the vast sums of money it would cost to set up considering that most of them are laying off workers in the current economic climate.

    I suspect this is FOTA’s final bluff.

  40. Brian Morrison says:

    Well, what we’ve all been expecting has happened. Between them, Bernie and Max seem to have decided to carry on driving towards the edge of the cliff in complete ignorance of the 2,000 foot drop beyond. Whatever they think they can do, I suspect they’re going to find that glueing the pieces of the shattered china back together will be next to impossible and everyone will know that the result wouldn’t ring true if they manage it.

    The crux of this will be the TV coverage of the FOTA series, everyone will want to watch that rather than the FIA affair, but there is not a lot of time to organise everything. If they can’t get it organised for 2010 then a lot of fans are going to find something else to do on 17 or 18 weekends of the year and then getting them back again will take some doing.

    It will be very interesting to see whether Max manages to remain FIA president after this, I imagine that the members won’t take such a spectacular failure very well. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke!

  41. Jon says:

    About time!

    Max dared them to “start a new series” and now they have. HA! I don’t believe there is any further negotiaton to take place, because after this slap in the face, Max especially, is not one to back down.

    I feel sorry for TV guys like the BBC. But I believe the racing fan will be alot better off if those people choose to watch the new series instead of Formula GP2.

    Tickets will be cheaper for the fan, and old Euro and USA/Canada circuits will return. Won’t miss you Max and Bernie. Enjoy your F1 without Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, Brawn, Redbull, Hamilton, Button, Alonso, Massa, Kimi, Kubica, Webber. Will Mosley’s legacy be as the man who killed F1 as we know it?

  42. Ashley says:

    Could this be a reprieve for tracks like Silverstone and Montreal if they split?

    Will they be able to get any other teams eg Lola within their series if one occurs or will the lack of budget cap not appeal?

    Will it actually happen at all?

  43. Kirk says:

    Well done to FOTA for sticking together and believing in their principles. I for one hope they succeed and produce a new series that can not only rival but top what F1 has today – I’m already looking forward to it and will watch he new series with as much passion and commitment as I have watched F1 over the last 20 years.

    The FIA (aka Max) have behaved in a very strange, selfish, knee jerk and almost of control manner over the last 2-3 years with regards to the regulations – despite the competition on the track arguably being THE BEST we’ve ever seen. And I do mean ever.

    Even if the FIA arguments appear to be sensible on paper they have ultimately forced the teams to waste a lot of money chasing lost causes like KERS and long-lasting drive trains – only to now accept new teams using engines who have had no investment or technology applied to them for the best part of 3 years. It just doesn’t hold together. The FIA have quite openly pushed the FOTA teams away – simple as that. Now live with it.

    And as for the commercial side, it’s all there for everyone to see. I hope we have no more nonsense like Bernie did with Silverstone people these last few years – despite all the BRDC careful/sensible investment and fans support for the venue he hasn’t been fair to them and ultimately went for the money Donington thought they could give him. Same goes for Montreal – another venue with passionate fans who got sold down the river for oil money. His profit has long been the main drive in all this and that isn’t right. Time for this to change.

    RIP F1.

  44. Ian Brooks says:

    James, In my last posting reply I said I thought that this had now become a power struggle between the teams and the FIA/FOM. Followers of your blog have, for the last few weeks, followed the battle which has been so incisively reported and interpreted by yourself. So; we’ve heard from the main protagonists – teams, FOTA, the drivers, the FIA, FOM etc etc but how about the fans themselves? Notwithstanding individual opinions from those who are ardent enough F1 fans to follow your blog, is there any indicative measure of the feelings of fans/followers of F1 generally? The fans, after all, ultimately make F1 – whatever that may be, or become….

  45. Nik Black says:

    Excellent news. The Max/Bernie era had to come to an end at some point, and there is no better time than the present. It is about time that the archaic FIA/FOM control of the sport was torn apart so that the participants can have more of a say and more control.

    FOTA have a strong case to argue in EU courts that FIA/FOM have not acted in the interests of the sport – regardless of any contract they might have with each body.

  46. Mike Dawson says:

    Fantastic! Will we have a real race series next year? Without those silly stewards decisions and not too much politics. Can’t wait to see Ferrari, Macca and all the great teams back in action.

    … where do I sign up?

    Let’s not forget that F1 started from scratch.

  47. F1nn says:

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE FOTA break away.

    Series name?

    It has to be P1 …

    … time to put racing and the fans back in P1/pole position.

  48. lower-case david says:

    good stuff.
    yeah it’s a negotiaition, but let us all hope max’s ego refuses to let him realise the jig is up, and then it’s game-on.

    contrary to the cart/irl conventional wisdom that we’ll no doubt hear about presently, splits aren’t bad, it’s weak splits that you don’t want.
    … the FOTA business plan needs to break the FIA’s spine and stand on CVC’s throat, then we’ll all come out smiling and covered in gravy.

    anything that does not describe the financial humiliation and destruction of the other within a year … then you can all start worrying about the death march.

    right now, the big question is, do the middle-management, comfortable corporate, fota types still know how to street-brawl; maxwell and bernard go back to the pirhana club, they’re old-school … the concern is that a committee room of nick frys does not keep bernie awake all night. fota need to unveil a tough guy.

    aside from an FIA collapse and Mosley resignation this afternoon, going aggressive is the only way to end this thing cheap.
    no time for limp bluffs and mixed messages, go in over the top and all-in, let the other guy make his decision … CVC/FOM left with no other option, but to throw max under a bus, and organize a shiny new FOTA F1 championship for whatever they can get on commission … a williams/manor F3 championship will in no way cover the interest payments.

    what i’m saying is that Dave Devilfish Ulliott should be the FOTA commissioner.

  49. john g says:

    given there is still time before the deadline, i think this is a very strong negotiation tactic. but if it does go ahead, what would you watch? for me, the crux of it is that the teams are F1, not max and bernie. i would follow the manufacturers racing around silverstone, imola, north america etc, and leave the FIA F1 to race their cosworth spec series around the middle east with no fans. max should have left a year ago. and bernie – with all this talk of cost cutting is still squeezing the circuits for every last drop. part of me think they both deserve it – bernie and max have ruined F1 but the teams have saved racing

  50. snoozer says:

    So let’s say Max sues Ferrari and wins .. what then?

    Well, if I were Ferrari and contractually obliged to participate, I would just turn up with my 2009 spec chassis with modified fuel tank to go full race distance. No winter development. I’d leave them sans Ferrari red paintjob and just run unpainted carbon black monoquoque .. no Princing Horse either. I’d turn the engines down to 15,000 RPM to save a few engines, bung in a low tech steering wheel with a pit lane speed limiter and radio to comply with the regs and run no telemetary. Send a skeleton crew to each event with no fancy motorhomes and hire a couple of drivers to potter around at the back of the field.

    You might ne able to force a team to turn up but you can’t force them to race…

  51. Road of Bones says:

    I thought this was going to happen as soon as Max said “go & race your own series then” a few weeks ago. To have thrown such an obvious gauntlet to a collection of very angry teams was a poor judgement from Max, who has clearly allowed emotion to get in the way of his stewardship of the FIA.

    The time has come for change at the top of the FIA, and FOTA have had to play the only card left to them in order to affect this.

    This is not over yet, not by a long chalk!

    When do we expect Bernie to weigh in?

  52. ARW says:

    I don’t know if this question has been answered, but if the FIA does have a legal agreement with Ferrari for its participation in F1, could the Italian team enter both F1 and the FOTA series? If the FIA’s only trump card is that it has a legal agreement with Ferrari, surely the team could enter the F1 championship with little investment (for example, use this year’s cars and unknown test drivers), while focusing development and expenditure on the FOTA series.

    Not that I think the FOTA series is likely – I expect a resolution of some sort, but I wonder if this option is open to Ferrari and Red Bull.

  53. Alex M says:

    I am so pleased and proud the FOTA have stood up to the madness of Max and the greed of Bernie and wish them the very best of luck with the real Premier Class.

    Williams are toast, sadly, but they deserve it for their cowardice in splitting. They are the team that really attracted me to F1 after watching the BBC programmes about their struggles as a small independant fighting with the big boys. Damon’s long overdue WDC was one of the happiest moments of my life, it sounds silly to say, but it is the truth. Sadly, now I just wish them nothing but the destruction they deserve.

    Time now to turn all efforts on to destroying the FIA/FOM farce, the new joke teams and anybody sponsoring them. Bernie is not going to let his cash cow shrivvel up without a fight and we the fans must organise and do all we can to support FOTA and destroy the FIA/FOM axis.

  54. jim says:

    that’s more great news!!!
    i can see Mosley resigning,Todt stepping in ,and all that political chaos a memory…that’s the best option!
    if not then who’s going to watch the 2010 f1 championship?

  55. Moohcowh says:

    What a wealth of tracks they would have open to them, Montreal, Silverstone, Indianapolis and Imola!

  56. Ben G says:

    This could be greatest day in the history of motorsport. Down with the dictators!

  57. Peter Freeman says:

    I really hope they do form a new series. F1 is great, but for two things: Arrogance and Greed, that governing it. In short, the presence of FOM and the FIA have been a continual detriment to all connected with F1, especially the fans. I for one am holding my breath, this is the best news to come out of this whole terrible fight for a long time.

  58. Les Jo says:

    This is turning out like 1996 again. It’s CART vs IRL all over again; except the dollar (or pounds) at stake is a lot bigger!

    James, as you already know by now, American Open Wheel Racing is now a shadow of its former glory. Do you see a similar situation with FOTA & FIA?

    In America, the only real losers during the CART/IRL split were the fans. And the real victor was NASCAR.

  59. mdubash says:

    This is long overdue.

    With the sport being run unaccountably and by two old blokes who keep most of the money generated by the sport – correction: effectively by the teams who do the work – I welcome the FIA and FOM being forced into a position where they have to be more transparent in their dealings, and listen to the teams.

    Let’s hope FOTA holds together long enough to make it happen.

    Long, long overdue…

  60. Simon of Melbourne says:

    Long Live FOTA. The end of Bernie and Max’s reign of terror is nigh.

    James, get ready to put the headphones on and jump back into the commentary booth, you will be back in action commentating on the Grand Prix World Championship next year…I would hope.

  61. Alex T says:

    I almost fell out of bed at about Midnight when news started coming through of FOTA’s decision. Incidentally I expect an injunction from Bernie pretty quickly preventing the use of FO i.e. Formula One, in their name!

    This is quite clever from FOTA – give everyone a day to sort things out on Friday before the entry list is finalised. Clearly Ferrari, RBR and STR will be on that list as contracted teams and cue further injunctions / legal action to enforce this. Highly expensive and messy.

    However, there is one word in FOTA’s press release that gives their game away – to ‘start’ preparations on its own series for 2010. Not to continue, progress with, finalise but to start. Come on, they are not going to start a a rival championship in eight months. They only have 16 cars at best. No circuits, TV, infrastructure etc etc etc.

    So next year’s list will be Ferrari, Williams, RBR, STR, Force India, USF1, Campos, Manor, Epsilon, Prodrive, Lotus, Superfund and one more. Lola would have been good if they had not withdrawn. Even if the FOTA 3 get out of it it still leaves 10 teams of two cars – i.e. the same as now in F1.

    If FIA and FOM want to get nasty they could probably kick out some teams from the sport right now for bringing into disreptute. Brawn could probably be put out of business if FOM with-holds TV money….

    If they all want to go, let them. I will be watching the FIA Formula 1 World Championship in 2010 and the ‘Never heard of the brand World Championship with some major motor manufacturers spending the earth for fractions of a second’ can do what it wants.

    But what is clear is this: my next car won’t be a Mercedes, Toyota, Renault or BMW (it was never going to be a Ferrari unfortunately). I am currently a customer of one of these manufacturers, so this is a really good business decision from them. I think I can probably do without Red Bull to drink too. Their disloyalty is unacceptable conduct.

  62. Hamish McDougall says:

    It’s about time too. Pity about Williams though, but all in all I think it would be a better championship, with more racing, and less court room brawls.

  63. Phil says:

    One other thought… now that Toyota and McLaren have nailed their colours to the mast, it looks as though Williams and Force India will be without engines next year and so will probably have to use Cosworths, just like everyone else in the FIA-backed series. This will effectively make FIA F1 a single-engine formula which will no doubt please certain persons hugely but really isn’t in the spirit of F1 at all.

  64. Don says:

    Let there be War!

    Good riddenace to Bernie & Max – between them they have strangled F1 in red-tape and silly rule changes.

    Am I been cynical in thinking they are taking the attitude that they created modern day F1; and now that they’ve made their billions they want to destroy their creation???

  65. Markle SchuMarker says:

    Wow! Heard this in the queue at the bank this morning (didn’t even check here before work as I usually do as I wasn’t expecting a result till later in the day) and I was shocked to say the least. Is this just a final warning from the teams to get their own way? Surely everyone involved knows the damage to all the brands will likely be huge. History has shown that on numerous occasions.

    At least there will be plenty to read about in the off season this year, shame the whole thing is going to eclipse our future new (or current new according to the bookies…) British world champion!

  66. Can you see the courts tell Ferrari they must race, and Ferrari sending a token car which deliberately fails to qualify or pulls out at the end of lap 1. ?

    We have Bernie giving GPs to countries like Turkey which have no participation in motor racing, and they are spending more money building the Hotel at the abu Dhabi circuit than all the teams combined are expected to run on for a season. There is plenty of money going to F1, but it is not going to the teams.

    Every other sport I can think of is run by an association of the teams who make setting the rule changes, arranging the events and sell the TV rights and share the revenue. What exactly is FOM *for* , what is the the *FIA* for ? I remember the FOCA / FISA rows of the 80s (J.M. Ballestre etc) It’s the same thing all over again.

  67. Barry Hope says:

    James, you mentioned the potential impact on investment in Donington.
    There are also significant implications for some overseas F1 license holders.
    Consider Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates where the government is investing a huge amount of time and money in building the fantastic Yas Marina Circuit.
    Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala have a 5% stake in Ferrari, a three year sponsorship deal with the Scuderia Ferrari, a massive project on site building Ferrari World and a long term contract to run F1GP.
    Want to guess what would happen here if F1 does not include Ferrari next year?

  68. Vik says:

    God, I couldn’t be happier.

    Does the new FOTA series have to be recognised by the FIA?
    If it does, Max is still a factor.

    I’m just awfully worried that after this honeymoon period of announcing a new series is to being formed, that the FOTA won’t get everything together by next year, or more realistically by the end of this year at the latest.

    If they do go racing though, the BRDC are a very very lucky bunch.

    By the way James, have fun covering both F1 and the FOTA series if this does go through.

  69. rav says:

    would the new series be allowed to call their races ‘grand prixs?’

    and even if a split occurs – a breakaway series should be able to get some good circuits, like imola, montreal, silverstone, adelaide and possibly even spa, suzuka and nurburgring depending on the contracts they have with FOM/FIA and probably an american race

  70. Jonas says:

    So if this happens James, then the media are going to have to step in … all of you need to get together and refuse to cover either series unless they all get their heads together and sort something out … see how successful they are with zero publicity.

    Not that this would ever happen of course … but still. Power of the press an’ all that …

  71. Very sad. Very short-sighted of FOTA.

  72. *DING DING* Round 274 Begins.

  73. Richard Morgan says:

    I’ve been getting excited about the prospect of a breakaway series for a while now. I think it’s the only way the changes that are really necessary will come about. The Fia under Max Mosley has been nothing but emergency rule change after another. As a regulatory body the fia is there to provide the checks and balances to keep the sport healty, interesting and relevent, in face of presure from intrested parties such as the teams who want to win whatever the cost, and the promoter who wants to make as much money a possible. With the notable exception of safety, the fia has completely failed to provide any regulation, and has been unwilling to accept it’s failings or change it’s ideas. A breakaway series has got to be a healthier environment for the teams and tracks than F1 currently, and it might just bring about the changes the fia so desperately needs.

  74. Jem says:

    I rather hope FOTA go through with it actually. Williams might be World Champions again. ;-)

    That said, if FOTA do start a rival series and the price of a new BMW or Mercedes goes up dramatically, we’ll have a pretty good idea where that extra money is headed… lol.

  75. Jonathan says:

    My position as a spectator is simple, I’ll follow the best teams, the best drivers and the best sponsors. The FIA have got themselves in this position by diluting the image of Formula 1.. F1 was rapidly becoming a Gp2 series with smaller budgets, restricted aero developments and ridiculous technological innovations i.e. KERS that have no relevance to F1 [In my opinion] and have far proven to be a success so far this season.. What annoys me more is the stance of Max Mosely, I understand his position and views of budget capping to help secure long term stability of F1. But it goes without saying a world championship cannot and will not survive without its top teams..

    I’m all for this break away series, a series without the FIA is a series better off. What will be interesting is the marketing game FOTA will play to market themselves as a higher tier championship to Formula 1, it maywell prove a costly mistake. On a ligther note perhaps the new series will be contracted to Itv whereby we’ll be reunited with the legendary James Allen and Steve Rider?

    Good luck to F1 and the FIA.. I very much look forward to how they survive with just Williams and Force India as there leading competitors for next season!

  76. Mon Pen says:

    Christmas come early for the lawyers. I am saddened that it has come to this but the FIA must understand that F1 is a sport, and the FIA exists to govern the sport for the benefit of the fans and in an environment where the teams “buy in” rather than just being pawns to be pushed around on the whims of the ringmasters. The FIA must start to realise that it is not a vehicle to allow their President to massage his ego with his endless powertripping.

  77. Canadian F1 fan says:

    Aside from the fallout of all upcoming court cases, I see this as a certain win for fans of open-wheel racing. We’ve got eight teams committed and, who knows, maybe even Lola, Prodrive and a few more.
    As for tracks, aren’t Silverstone, Paul Ricard, Fuji (makes you wonder about Toyota’s decision to withdraw its track), Montreal & Imola all immediately available? What about Germany and the USA?
    As I said, it’s a win for fans. We’ll hopefully get to see racing at venues with history and tradition.

    Looking forward to seeing how this plays out…

  78. pbyrne says:

    Re. Bernie’s ‘hailstorm of writs’, I’d be pessimistic about him backing down on this. It is after and all the ‘Bernie and Max’ show – they go back a long way and have propped each other up over the years. You never know with Bernie though do you? If FOTA are willing to allow him continue drawing exorberant sums as ringmaster perhaps he’ll follow the money…

    However what is to stop Ferrari, for example, from sending a couple of modified ’09 cars to races next year with Badoer and Marc Gene to go through the motions, maybe pull in Indy-style after a few laps citing reliability problems? Do you know if this would be possible James? What is the fine print of the teams’ contracts with the FIA? (Unfair question I’ll admit!)

    The TV contracts will be interesting – BBC are committed and to lose them would be a pity (no ads). Would star presenters such as Brundle jump ship?

    There is NO QUESTION, as a fan, I will be following the best teams and drivers to the new series.

    I don’t want to wish harm on anyone but … if Max fell under a bus don’t think I’d be shedding any tears…

  79. The Flying Finn says:

    If the dog is really going to bite, it would just go for it. The ones that stand around barking .. do just that, and nothing more. The statement leaves the door open, FOTA is ‘commencing preparation’ and ‘not going to alter entries’ BUT theyre NOT withdrawing the entries and do not have any details of the new series annouced. Hopefully Max and Bernie do not blink, they need not to as they have nothing to lose and all to gain at this point. Blink and cave in, then they might as well walk away today. The teams on the other hand, have it all to lose. Sure the new series might be a reality and it might even be the ‘better’ one, but would sponsorship contracts be breached/have to be renegotiated at a significantly lower price ? As a fan, it is sad to see it get to this point but on the bright side, does that mean racing every weekend and back to montreal/silverstone/adelaide/imola and cheaper ticket price next year ? There is a bright side to everything right ?

  80. M-N says:

    I’m with FOTA all the way on this one. Whatever happens I hope we get a race series where:

    1) The role of politics plays a MUCH lesser role.

    2) Ferrari stops getting preferential treatment on and off the race track.

    3) The race stewards make fair and sensible decisions, no more inconsistent and seemingly biased penalties.

    4) And Max Mosley has nothing to do with it. He can go spend his free time as he likes.

  81. Prancer says:

    Cheers for all the info James – interesting as always.
    As someone who has watched F1 for nearly 20 years I have seen attempts to outwit Max and Bernie fail in the past so I’m not getting too excited about this one.
    But looking across the net one thing I did find remarkable was the amount of support FOTA has “out there”.
    I wonder if Bernie and the FIA have any grasp at all of how unpopular they are amongst motor racing fans?
    If they do they will be settling this sooner rather than later, or else on the evidence of today they will be left holding a championship with no fans.
    A bit like 17 Turkish GP’s.
    But without Jenson,Rubens,Fernando, Lewis,Ferrari…

  82. iceman says:

    James – have you been on the phone to ITV yet about who their commentator is going to be when they bid for the FOTA series coverage ;)

  83. JPa says:

    Oh Dear.

  84. CTP says:

    i have a thought about the fia 2010 championship: if the breakaway goes ahead AND ferrari and rbr/str lose in court, thus are forced to be in the 2010 fia championship… what’s to stop them showing up at every gp with only two guys total and this year’s car (specs within the rules, of course) on the back of a utility trailer? then they could drive it for one lap and retire it. the cost to do that would be pretty minimal, would make a mockery of the fia, and would allow them to put their money into the real new series.

  85. Vince says:

    I feared this day would come for a very long time now, and now that it is here I can’t help but feel relieved and excited at the same time. A new series would have been a disaster without the likes of Red Bull, Mclaren, and Brawn, but since they’ve stayed strong and united, the only things we’ve lost are Max, Bernie, Williams and Force India. I think Bernie will be the next to Budge or jump ship and Williams and Force India can follow him. BE stands to lose the most here.
    I think the Fans may actually have something to gain. As a Canadian, I may actually get a chance to see a race again!
    James, How’s about a poll to see who would support which series? I’m sure members of the FIA and FOTA check your site occasionally.

  86. Colin says:

    Good. hopefully the FOTA will have something that resembles the spirit of the F1 than the FIA’s version

  87. GP says:

    Alleluia! I was skeptical FOTA would stand up to Mosley and break away from F1 as we know it. But they did it!

    This is history in the making. It looks like F1, or whatever the best championship with the best drivers and cars will be called, is discarding the old dictatorial shackles and will become a professionally run championship.

    Like Bernie said, it’s back to the future; the next evolution, or revolution, after the FISA/FOCA war. I for one couldn’t be happier.

    I believe that either way the fans win. Either Max will back down from his demands and we will retain an official F1 world championship, or we will get a new one with the best teams, drivers, and cars running under a different name. This is a great day.

  88. Rusty0256 says:

    …and so the unstoppable force meets the immovable object.

    Up to a point, FOTA were prepared to come back into F-1 but only under their terms and, if it wasn’t to be (and with Max displaying predictable self-righteous belligerence, it never was), then they needed a detailed Plan B.

    Of course, it could still all change at the proverbial 11th hour and as we speak you can be sure the CVC blowtorch will be burning Bernie’s nether regions. CVC will be apoplectic with rage that their multi-billion investment is about to evaporate before their very eyes, especially when it has occurred as a result of the intransigence of a single stubborn fool. Max may yet lose and if he does, he will go quickly and quietly via a palace coup.

    Failing that, FOTA will proceed and we can expect a detailed plan to be rolled out quickly and with the efficiency one might expect from a professional group that has been quietly and efficiently working behind the scenes for several weeks (and possibly months). There will be a name for the series, an entry list (and don’t be surprised if it includes entries from Prodrive and Lola), a list of provisional and inevitably traditional circuits.

    The argument that this will be a re-run of the Indycar split does not hold water. When that split occurred the energy was dispersed across the 2 ‘new’ series. Each side gained nothing and was in fact, 50% worse off than it had been before and it showed.

    With the F-1 / FOTA split, all the sponsorship money, all the best drivers, all of the manufacturers and most of the teams, all of the key powerplants and the vast majority of the best designers and engineers will be on the FOTA side.

    You can be certain FOTA will have racing at Silverstone, Montreal, Nurburgring, Indianapolis and Magny-Cours. There may even be a few track surprises in store. Unshackled from Bernie and CVC’s drive to get huge fees from desperate (and often despotic) governments, other tracks will quickly seek to unshackle themselves from the F-1 train-wreck. Above all, FOTA will have the fans.

    F-1 will have Williams, Force India and a few other teams we have never heard of before. Apart from Williams, they will have old Cosworth engines, 2nd string drivers, sponsors, designers and engineers. They will have cookie-cutter tracks that nobody goes to in places that nobody cares about. F-1 will self-destruct and it may do so before a 2010 regulation wheel is turned.

    Within 1 to 2 years you can expect FOTA to be Formula 1 once more. Bernie, Max and CVC will, one way or the other, be gone. A new fairer and cooperative FIA will emerge and fans will again have the racing they have wanted and craved for, for longer than most of us can remember.

    F-1 is about to suffer the self-destruction it needs to have, but I believe this necessary temporary pain will be followed by a cleansing renewal. A new stronger Formula 1 will re-emerge, and hopefully we will all be able to look back on this day, as the day it all began.

  89. Jonathan says:

    It is now simple:

    Either Max resigns or F1 is destroyed.
    Hopefully the FIA Senate will finally grow some grapes and stand up to [him]. [please read the rules of the blog - mod]

    Goodbye Max, and good riddance once and for all.

  90. The Kitchen Cynic says:

    ““Furthermore, tens of millions of dollars have been withheld from many teams by the commercial rights holder, going back as far as 2006.”

    Whoah there…is this true James? Sounds like they’re going to claim that Bernie is already in breach and therefore their contracts are nullified.

  91. leespurs 76 says:

    Hi James,

    this will be my first comment on your excellent site!
    the teams have done well to stick together for so long against the FIA and now we are reaching the climax. i myself feel that a possible breakaway series is the only way forward now, as it is the only way the teams can be self financing.

    by this i mean that with the improved tv revenues, existing sponsorship deals, and event fees they will for a vast majority of the FOTA teams except ferrari and mclaren pay for their racing at current budgets.

    i will be looking forward to a season without politics bearing its ugly head!

    P.S, maybe you can confirm this, but news on the grapevine is that Nick Wirth, technical director/ chief designer of the new Manor F1 team is actually Max Mosleys nephew???? isn’t this slightly smacking of nepotism when you leave off lola and prodrive?

  92. ati says:

    fota series: train behind mclaren and ferrari. only these 2 teams will win. the rest will be just wagons following them. series will have huge money and organisation problems which will result into fights but they will keep the charade up to pretend they won from fia. after a while noone will watch it….or rather, noone who likes real racing.

    f1: uninteresting teams winning meaningless prizes noone watches. it will be just a salary thing for the teams involved. but fia will never give in.

    they both lose. anyone who think that fota or fia are winning here are ignorant, clueless and naive all at the same time.

    especially the people who are rabidly defending fota…do you realize what you actually support? yes it looks good at first…but really think about it. then look at what happened in indycars. then come to your senses ;)

    yes fia needs to change…but also, yes fota needs to change. they are both equally wrong and in denial.

  93. Christian Frost says:

    Ah well, FIA finally managed to [mod] mess up Formula One. Thanks Max! Thanks Bernie! You turned what once was an exiting racing series into a handicap sport, and now you’ve killed it off…

  94. Rudy Pyatt says:

    In the May issue of Racecar Engineering, (THE) Gordon Murray said that F1 needed to “collapse and start all over again.” Here it is then… But I don’t think this will be a CART – IRL = NASCAR dominance situation. More like CART – USAC = USAC (F1/FIA) becomes regional show.

    James, do you think that there IS a series out there ready to take advantage of the split as NASCAR did? (Apologies again for the length of my last post).

  95. James Allen says:

    No sure about nephew, but they were in business together in the 1990s

  96. James Allen says:

    A reference partly to the Honda prize money Brawn were hoping to receieve

  97. M-N says:

    And they’d certainly be under the budget cap too!

  98. James Allen says:

    No, they want to stay together

  99. GP says:

    I don’t think the situation is the same for several reasons.

    Roughly 90% of CART/IRL races took place in only one country with a population of just over 300 million people. F1 has a much, much larger fan base since races take place all over the world.

    FOTA has a hell of a lot more money and the means to set up a very good championship with world class manufacturers, something CART/IRL didn’t have.

    Again, the fact that CART/IRL raced in only one country made it a lot easier for NASCAR to take over the American racing scene. If we take Canada for example, F1 has been racing there since 1967 in front of sell-out crowds yet NASCAR’s top series has never made it across the border.

    I think a FOTA championship will be very successful. Even some of the new teams are re-thinking their involvement in Max’s championship after last night’s announcement.

  100. woohoo says:

    Yeah, they could run this years car next year, just to fulfil the contract.

  101. woohoo says:

    James, has Honda been paid this or has it gone into this years christmas kitty?

  102. Ahmad Albashrawi says:

    They are willing to commit until the end of 2012 if their conditions are met.

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