Some unfinished business
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Lunchtime update from Silverstone
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Lunchtime update from Silverstone
Posted By:   |  19 Jun 2009   |  2:15 pm GMT  |  36 comments

There is a lot of activity going on at Silverstone, following the announcement by FOTA that they are commencing preparations for a breakaway series.

No-one on the FOTA side is saying how much preparation has already been done, but I gather that one of the team principals has been on the phone to several tracks which have recently hosted F1 events and are no longer hosting events, like Indianapolis, Montreal, Silverstone.

Ferrari owns Mugello, while Imola is ready to host these cars again after a major refurbishment. The teams seem to feel that the logistics of putting a new series together are not as much of a problem as is being suggested, especially getting the tracks and track operations together. The TV deals would be the tricky bit.

The talk here in the paddock is of the new teams, like Lola, Prodrive who are next on the FIA’s waiting list. They are apparently moving towards FOTA, N Technology has withdrawn from FIA list and Prodrive has put some conditions on its participation.

What FOTA is hoping is that the entry list Max Mosley will take to next Wednesday’s world council meeting will feature fewer teams than are currently in F1 and three of them (Ferrari, Red Bull and Toro Rosso) will be on the list against their will.

Then a challenge would be launched against Mosley’s presidency. FOTA have put themselves in a position where the only way forward with the FIA world championship is if Mosley is not in his current role.

There was a rumour going around that Luca di Montezemolo had been quoted as saying that FOTA is seeking Mosley’s removal, but this has been categorically denied by Ferrari.

Mosley is about to release a statement, apparently, after the end of the second practice session.

The FIA has said it is announcing its entry list tomorrow.

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36 Comments
  1. Michael C says:

    Bernie didn’t seem to be exactly ‘throwing his weight behind Max’ in the interview (if that’s what you could call it given the level of his responses) on the BBC1 F1 web site

  2. Sledge says:

    hmmm. FOTA back in Adelaide maybe? :P

  3. LynnD says:

    “The talk here in the paddock is of the new teams, like Lola, Prodrive who are next on the FIA’s waiting list. They are apparently moving towards FOTA, N Technology has withdrawn from FIA list and Prodrive has put some conditions on its participation.”

    Well there it is.. the final nail in Max’s coffin. It all comes down to the fact that he was never, and never will be, a racer. He is a politician who, by accident of birth, was denied the option (thankfully for the UK) of participating in normal electoral politics. He doesn’t seem to have realised that these teams would look at the shell of the FIA WC and think “Do we want to go and live under MM and BE’s dictatorship? Er, no.”

    I have posted elsewhere that I feel sorry for Max, and even more so now. FOTA has played its hand magnificently, and whether the breakaway happens or not, there is nowhere left for Max to hide – no way for him to win. With what I’ve seen of his psychology over the 20 years I’ve been following motorsport, when he is ousted from the FIA (sooner or later) I’d be very worried for his mental health.

    But as a fan I just want to be able to watch racing, without the insane politicking.

  4. RB says:

    If Mosely gets tossed it will be from internal pressure. I can imagine the money end is very unhappy with Mosely at the current future probability of severely reduced income.

  5. An alternative to Mosley isn’t a bad idea, but I wonder who they’d want to replace him with… odds are FOTA (the new spelling of Ferrari IMHO) will end up fielding an Italian and F1 will end up like Italian football where the teams have referees on their side, and payroll.

  6. phil c says:

    looks like the fia dont want to back down. Off to court we go.

  7. Lustigson says:

    > … new teams, like Lola, Prodrive who are next on the FIA’s
    > waiting list. They are apparently moving towards FOTA…

    Lola has already pulled out, this week. The only teams that were on the FIA’s 2010 entry list, or had previously confirmed having applied for an entry are:

    » Williams
    » Force India
    » Campos Grand Prix
    » Manor F1 Team
    » Team US F1
    » Prodrive
    » Epsilon Euskadi
    » Team Lotus (Litespeed)
    » Brabham (Formtech)
    » Team Superfund

    Should all 10 teams come to fruition, that’s a maximum of 20 cars. However, Superfund have no known manufacturing facilities.

  8. Tom says:

    I’m amazed that Max is still presiding over the FIA – why hasn’t he been usurped, he’s damaging the FIA itself?
    I’d hope that the FIA would force his resignation and allow for an overhaul, the only issue for FOTA then is Bernie. Having seen his casual interview with the BBC, the man is clearly inept. He seemingly thinks that FOTA only have an issue with Max which just isn’t true. The best resolution I can see is that FOTA form a new series that is governed by the FIA, possibly under Todt.
    Where do you see Bernie in all of this James?

  9. Stevie P says:

    Here’s what I don’t get…

    Max, err sorry… the FIA, state “… (we) cannot permit a financial arms race in the Championship nor can the FIA allow FOTA to dictate the rules of Formula One”

    Now, I didn’t think FOTA wanted to do either of these things… do they?

    The manufacturers and large teams can all see the state of the global economy – they concur that it shouldn’t be an “arms race”. They simply state that moving from spending an unlimited amount to such a small capped amount, isn’t feasible in the time frame the FIA have stipulated.

    FOTA want to be able to have some influence in the creation of rules… how is that “dictating” the rules? Surely Bernie’s decision to switch to a medals system just prior to the season opener is more dictatorial, than FOTA saying what do you think to modifying the points system slightly (ie, 12 for a win, instead of 10 etc, etc).

    They all need whipping into shape… [mod]

  10. Duncan says:

    A breakaway series won’t be as easy as Bernie and Max are making out and the FOTA teams could make it a greater spectacle by re-introducing some of the more popular tracks such as Imola, Montreal and Silverstone.

    The names of Ferrari and McLaren will still be the attraction for sponsors and if all the top manufacturers and names are in the new series that will be regarded as the pinnacle of motorsport as F1 is now.

    Legally it could be a different story having read Bernie’s comments in the Daily Express today where he says he’ll go after the new series if they approach the television companies etc he currently has deals with.

    One last thought, should FOTA and the FIA reach an agreement, would it be possible James for Britain to host two GPs with one at Silverstone and the other at Donnington? Maybe the European GP could come here?

    Given the UK’s heritage and passion for F1 I think both would sell out and make more money than Turkey is doing currently?

  11. Brian Adamson says:

    Hi James

    Fantastic blog, excellent read, thanks.

    One question though.

    The FIA are obviously desperate, despite Max’s comments, to hold onto Ferrari. If Ferrari continue with FOTA will they still be allowed to run a shodow team in the F1 World Championship while fully focusing on the new XYZ World Championship?(the same for the 2 red bull teams)

    Cheers
    Brian

  12. Suzy says:

    Well, Mosley’s announcment is that FIA is suing the teams. All of them…

  13. jonas says:

    For someone who is renowned for not saying much, Kimi Raikkonen has just summed the situation up perfectly :

    “This is nothing to do with sport anymore, it’s more politics and more about egos fighting against each other … It’s about who is going to win and who is going to lose.”

    What else can you say? He’s just hit the nail on the head. All we can do now is sit and watch these fools destroy the sport that we love, and which has given them a lifestyle most of us can only dream of.

  14. Pete says:

    I can understand why the new teams would be leaning towards FOTA. The major teams such as Ferrari, these teams are also offering great support, being rejected by the FIA once already….

  15. Peter says:

    Why is Max Mosely and Bernie Ecclestone killing the sport?? When I heard the news last night my heart sank.

  16. GP says:

    I know he is busy building his new factory but wouldn’t it be ironic if Ron Dennis had been lining up circuits, sponsors, and TV deals… ;-)

  17. Jonny K says:

    Hi

    Any idea what Frank Williams take on all this is? I’d be very interested to know that.

    He seems to be the only party who’s acted decently so far. I’d be interested to know what his take on the rival series is, and if he’d want to race there. What’s to stop some teams racing in both? That would seem to make sense, if F1 is massively cheaper now…

    I can’t help thinking that FOTA, if they are really serious, should have released a name for their series now. They’ll be getting massively publicity at present, so pushing the name of the series would be great publicity.

  18. Brown Eyed Girl says:

    I’m actually rather excited about the idea of a break away championship, but isn’t it likely to hurt the fans in the first season?
    Cheaper tickets would be amazing but even then you can afford to go to them all. I’m guessing bernie has a tight deal with bbc so they will be forced to show what’s left of the fia version.
    I can imagine they would show both as their wouldn’t be the air time and I’m assuming it would often clash time wise.
    I guess it could go back to itv (good news for you I presume ;) )
    I can’t imagine in a million years that fota would allow bernie to come within a mile of this off shoot, being as he was much an architect as mosley of the old regime.
    In which case would fota control their own comercial rights or look to another company to be an intermediary to negotiate with the tv companies world wide? Seems like a lot to do with everything else they will be organising.

  19. garyc says:

    CBC TV news at noon today had an item indicating that the Montreal city or Quebec government has been negotiating for some time with “the head of F1″ about a race next year. I thought at first they meant BE and they are wasting their time, but now maybe it’s with a FOTA person.

  20. Lockster says:

    Hi James,

    A great analysis as always.

    Where do things stand if the FIA goes ahead and publishes a confirmed list of participants of the 2010 F1 championship with the new teams (Prodrive etc) filling the holes left by the FOTA teams??

    I’m assuming that they will have to do this at some point soon since the deadline for the teams to lodge their “unconditional entry” has now been and gone.

    If they fill up all the slots on the grid with the new teams, while leaving the FOTA teams off the list , doesn’t it leave no room for a compromise at that point since the FIA would have left the FOTA teams no way of “coming back to the fold”??

    Surely the FIA realises that once the FOTA teams are left “without a seat” in F1 then the breakaway series is then a certainty.

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this issue…

    Cheers.

  21. Ben says:

    Isn’t Max and Bernie’s threat to sue a moot point until a rival series is set up?

    From what I understand of the contract, the FOM and FIA are suggesting that FOTA and in particular Ferrari are breaching an agreement in which Ferrari stated that they wouldn’t race in another open wheel, single seater category unless it was with the FIA?

    Thought this may be true, didn’t the FIA also agreed to only introduce fundamental changes to the regulations with the consent of certain, named parties. Those certain named parties include Ferrari. From what I’ve seen, the FIA has not consulted these named parties whilst making the greatest changes to rules there’s ever been in F1, thereby making any contract obsolete.

    However, in the most basic legal terms, you can not sue someone or their company for actions they’re going to take.

    Max/ Bernie can not sue Ferrari/Fota/Whoever because they’re considering taking a rival series. They can only argue the toss once the coin is flipped. When a rival series has begun and FIA/FOM have lost revenue, then they can sue. You can not convict, punish and expect recompense before the crime is committed.

    They are living in a legal dream world. I find it incredible that Mosley would cite competition laws in defense of the FIA position. They’re trying to maintain a monopoly and yet they’re suggesting using EU anti-competition laws to fight FOTA. Very, interesting, very, very, interesting mad max…

  22. Antoine says:

    Creating takes more time than copying, should Bernie follow FOTA, I’ll have experience on his side, as I have lots of respect for the work he’s done in F1…

  23. Rusty0256 says:

    Let’s be very clear on this; there will be no 2010 FIA F-1 World Championship without the main players (Ferrari McLaren etc.).

    The FIA is playing smoke and mirrors to try to convince anyone that F-1 is sustainable without the FOTA teams. The whole circus is propped up by MONEY and there will simply not be enough of it to support an emasculated F-1.

    Apart from Williams, F-1 has no key racing assets left. Force India and the startup teams USF1, Campos and Manor are grid fillers at best. And as sure as the sun rises in the morning, you can be sure that the remaining provisional entrants (Lola, Prodrive etc.) will now be in discussions with FOTA about positions in their series.

    And finally the coup-de-grace; if F-1 loses Ferrari, it loses the Crown Jewel, Monaco.

    This is all we need to know, to know what will happen here. F-1 will in essence be unsustainable, and will cease to exist as we know it.

  24. Chris long-time F1 Fanatic says:

    Disregarding his statement last year, Mosley is recently reported to have said that he won’t walk away from the FIA in a crisis, and so will stand again for re-election.
    But the FIA crisis is entirely of Mosley’s making! Which the F1 public recognises with polls showing 80% – 85% plus on FOTA’s side.
    Last year, Max Mosley castigated McLaren for lying. So Mosley is obviously really keen on telling the truth in F1. It’s good to see that he now has real integrity, and has abandoned his fascist connections entirely. I agree, I think integrity and honesty are good for F1.
    Yet last year, Mosley was reported to have said he would not stand again for re-election for the FIA some months ago when he was in the middle of legal proceedings against a newspaper for printing apparently true details of some of his rather dubious extra-curricular activities.
    So if he were to stand, then he would also be showing scant disregard for the truth. But isn’t the FIA fine for such opportunistic shenanigans fifty million dollars. Or was it fifty million pounds sterling? Would Max therefore enjoy the same fine? Surely not, could sauce for the goose also be sauce for the gander?

  25. James Allen says:

    Frank has had to take a pragmatic view; he has a contract with the FIA and he needs the costs to be brought right down in order to survive

  26. Jonny K says:

    Thanks. I was aware of that.

    What I meant was “Has anyone asked him (or anyone from Williams) for their views on the announcement of a breakway? Have there been any comments?”

    These are the sorts of questions which I think it would be interesting to ask!

  27. Pete says:

    Agreed James, however if the Rival series is a success then surely it could spell the end for Williams.

    If they get stuck in the series without the drivers, teams and sponsors then they are in trouble and as they have entered 2010 unequivocally, there is very little wriggle room for them now.

  28. James Allen says:

    Yes very possible, but I think the breakaway is still a last resort

  29. Darren M says:

    We shouldn’t be surprised that the FIA are standing by Mosley. They are, after all, the most incompetent political organisation in the entire world, if not the entire universe.

  30. Snail says:

    Tom, Bernie’s casual attitude is an act. He can’t appear flustered as if he does he shows he has lost. He’s trying the “we don’t need, I don’t care” routine. Thankfully, this time, it won’t wash.

  31. Snail says:

    I’m guessing bernie has a tight deal with bbc so they will be forced to show what’s left of the fia version.

    I’m sure he does.

    But FOTA can run their series, line up deals for as soon as possible (2 years time, 3 years time) and just do their thing in the meantime, “televising” the whole lot via the internet for free to ensure the fans get coverage. Then when the Farce 1 deals run out, the TV stations switch to FOTA 1…

    If I was FOTA, I’d do that. They can bank roll their own series until Bernie’s deals (which aren’t that long) run out.

    Plus, there are A LOT of TV stations in the world. BBC are showing Farce 1 right now. ITV may come back into the fold for FOTA 1 for a reduced rate etc.

    Its not improbable at all. Max and Bernie have the chance to score the biggest financial own goal in history and it looks like they might just succeed.

    Now its got this far, I’d like to see them succeed and get sucked into the financial black hole they’ve built for themselves. They should have agreed a sensible deal some time ago.

  32. steph says:

    I’m thinking Jean Toad…

  33. domenico says:

    How much would it cost a team to field a car in F1 for a whole year? Not be competitive and develop their car but just bring enough personnel and equipment to each race to carry out your contractual obligations???

    See where i am heading, why wouldn’t Ferrari, Red Bull and Torro Rosso simply bring minimal staff to the F1 races and invest most of their resources into the FOTA organised championship?

    Question is whether it is cheaper to get sued and fight in court or field the cars in both championships.

    I also believe the other FOTA members may put their hand in their pocket to fund part of this cost as it is in their best interests that Ferrari especially is in the FOTA championship.

    End of the day FOTA has won this war, Max is desperate and now the FIA in general and FOM will call for Max to step aside so things can move forwards.

    There are massive egos at play on both sides of the fence but FOTA holds the cards, Max does not. While they try and fight Ferrari in court the value of F1 and the revenues to the FIA will diminish rapidly. I dont think the FIA or FOM will allow this to happen.

    Max’s days are numbered.

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