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More on what the teams mean to F1
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More on what the teams mean to F1
Posted By:   |  06 Jun 2009   |  1:05 pm GMT  |  18 comments

We’ve had a great response to the post about what the teams mean to F1, some great thoughts.

Picking up on Max Mosley’s analogy of F1 as being like a restaurant we had this very well considered contribution from Bradley,

“The restaurant at Le Mans is open for 24 Hours and remains great, no matter who the diners are.

“Ferrari ate there for a while and left, so did Mercedes, BMW, Toyota and others, then they left too. And the race stayed great.

“I’d suggest that, as long as there are diners coming to the restaurant, it doesn’t matter who they are (although Ferrari should always be allowed their favourite table).

“Equally, even if Max didn’t choose the best metaphor, it doesn’t mean that, to quote another commentator, the turkeys should be allowed to run Christmas, in other words, that his point is wrong.

“Equally, apart from Toyota, every manufacturer team is, deep down, a re-badged racing team – Renault was Benetton and before that Toleman, BMW was Sauber, Red Bull was Jaguar/Stewart, and Toro Rosso Minardi.

“Even if the manufacturers aren’t in F1, I’d imagine those groups of people and skills will be.

“And F1 isn’t any greater because the Benetton team is called Renault, or Sauber called BMW.”

My colleague Michael Schmidt of Auto Motor und Sport has jogged my memory of something I looked at around the time when the Formula One Teams Association was formed, last September.

I remember asking Ron Dennis how the FOTA teams were going to make sure that Ferrari didn’t repeat what it had done in 2005 and split off to side with the FIA when it suited them. He replied that Ferrari was looking at things quite differently now and that in any case the manufacturers had all agreed to bind themselves to each other by agreeing a fine if one of them broke away.

Michael has written today that the fine is €50 million. Now I think about it, this has to be considered central to the way FOTA is conducting itself at the moment. In other words the five teams; Ferrari, McLaren Mercedes, Toyota, Renault and BMW Sauber are a block.

But the fact remains that if the FIA goes to court and can prove that Ferrari has a binding contract to race in F1 in 2010 then the game will be up for the others.

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18 Comments
  1. Skies says:

    You can take a prancing horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

  2. mark in jerez says:

    What I can´t understand in all of this is how consentual regulation (included in the Concorde agreement) has been left for so long. We now have Mosley dictating regulations, and the practitioners of the sport trying to defend themselves against his unilateral vision. As far as manufacturers and independents, F1 has now grown into a big business, and business is business, thus with the current economic situation the manufacturers´don´t want, and can´t, throw away money. The sport can evolve, as the teams have repeatedly declared and proved in their reductions in costs. What about the Formula 1 Commission? To repeat, rule making should not be unilateral.
    James, could you give us a little history lesson on the processes behind framing F1 regulations and how a return of another governing body like the Formula 1 Commission would affect the Mosley, Ecclestone (CVC) and 10 F1 teams´relations?

    As far as Mosley´s conviction that the F1 teams are merely patrons at his restaurant, I would suggest a better analogy- they are the performers at large venues. If the Beatles, Rolling Stones, U2, London Symphony Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis… decided together to perform in a different theatre circuit, I think the public would follow. Later, they might pop in at Mosley´s diner for a fast burger, and perhaps encounter a fry chef aspiring to a “hauter” cuisine.

  3. Suzy says:

    Why are journalists pre-dominantly pro-FIA in this telling us how it’s impossible for the teams to have a successful alternative series? I don’t think it’s easy but I don’t think
    it’s impossible either. As I said in my previous post, if the FOTA series has the big manufacturers and most of the star drivers it’s the FIA series that is in a trouble.

  4. Sven says:

    To me it looks like FOTA have a plan. If FIA agree with their conditional entry all will continue as normal with 3 new teams coming onboard as well.
    If not, Williams, Force India and perhaps Ferrari (if forced to due to their contract) will race in FIA F1 during 2010.
    The manufacturer teams can stand back for a year while FOTA organise their own series for 2011 which then Williams, Force India and Ferrari can join. The statement from FOTA was that Williams and Force India was only suspended from FOTA not excluded.
    The pictures from Istanbul shows almoast completely empty grandstands even at the start / finish strait so how can the CVC buissines model survive with 500 euro ticket prices.
    For FOTA to leave FIA and FOM might even be the only way
    to save Grand Prix racing.

  5. chris says:

    “And F1 isn’t any greater because the Benetton team is called Renault, or Sauber called BMW.”

    I think it is. The big brand manufacturers are very important to modern day F1 because they bring gravitas to the sport. The championship would feel totally different if Honda had stayed to reap the rewards of their investment, and It would have been easier to swallow for someone like Flavio who seemed pretty cheesed off with Brawns success at the start of the season.

  6. Ged says:

    Okay so I’ll post this having not entirely thought it through, but I’ll adlib as I go. So let’s assume that the FIA put Ferrari’s name down on the entry list do media commentators just expect them to say “Okay”? It’s always written as, ‘well that will be that & the remaining FOTA teams will be out in the cold’.

    What if they take the decision to court? Yes a French court may have said that a contract is binding (which from my understanding wasn’t the actual basis of that hearing) but their decision then, isn’t final, a new court will have to judge that. Won’t it?

    If it goes against Ferrari, they can take it further I’d suspect. How far exactly? I honestly have no idea. Just how many such hearings usually involve forcing a party to complete their contract against their will? Isn’t a fee settlement (admittedly it would be a high one) and/or some sort of ‘gardening leave’ more likely?

    And if Ferrari either from the outset or after further court activity compete next season, why can’t it be under the £40m cap – ran as a junior/reserve team & spend the rest of their cash with an entry in a new series? You could say their sponsors wouldn’t be happy with their logo’s on a half-hearted junior entry but that could be sold as a freebie to them & their names/logo’s would all be replicated on the ‘Senior’ cars too. 2 ads for 1! Or is it more a case that there will be clauses that already prevent Ferrari from competing in two series?

    Well, I did say i’d adlib as I went! Feel free to do the research & give us an article on it James. :)

  7. Peter says:

    I am very curious about these contracts.

    I am not a lawyer but I really cant see how a decent court would uphold the contract if it came to court.

    The FIA [mod] are basically dictating a huge number of redundencies. I cant believe that was ever envisaged when they were signed. in the present climate, I am sure that would be taken into account.

    [mod]
    CVC are proveing their inadequacy (the grandstands are empty). Surely there would be performance clauses?

    What I really cant understand is that we had really fantastic racing last year, and they went and “fixed it”. Its not just the politics thats bad this year. The racing has been the worst I have ever seen. How much did they spend on the overtaking working group?

    Peter

  8. Peter Freeman says:

    Ferrari could always show up with a tailor and two cars that rev to 10 000 that will last an entire season and trundle round each track slowly until the FIA ask them to leave… they don’t even need to paint the cars red!

  9. Charles says:

    I don’t know whether there’s any mileage to this, but if Ferrari’s contract with the FIA requires them to race is the same contract that states Ferrari have have a veto over the rules then it may be difficult for Mosely to get what he wants.

  10. Rusty0256 says:

    I was speculating in another of James’s Blog entries about the makeup of the respective 2010 grids if there were to be a breakaway.

    What has clearly emerged since then is Max is pulling strings behind the scene to get as many recognisable ‘names’ onto the new F-1 grid in full expectation that FOTA have left the building (and as a result will probably seek to start their own series). We now hear that the Lotus brand is being resurrected to add to the already miraculously resuscitated Brabham and March names.

    Will it end here? I think not. You can bet USF-1 (with a little help from Max) will be in negotiations with the Gurney family re the Eagle name.

    It is equally not hard to imaging that the owners of the names BRM, Cooper, Tyrrell and Shadow will be, as we speak, excitedly dusting off their ownership documents and giving Max a call. Based on what we have seen so far, Campos, Wirth, Superfund or N Technology (if any or all get up) are going to need legitimate racing names, so why not?

    If this is to be the F-1 strategy, it is fair to assume the same will apply to contracting drivers. Whilst the teams are always responsible for hiring and firing, you can bet Bernie’s last Million that considerable leverage will be brought to bear on attracting as many recognisable name drivers as possible.

    Presuming FOTA have their own series, most (if not all) of the biggest names will stay with them. But how does Bruno Senna in a Lotus Cosworth sound? What about Marco Andretti in an Eagle, Nelson Piquet in a Brabham and Thomas Scheckter in a March? The best of the GP-2 drivers (Grosjean, Hulkenberg etc.) will also likely be ‘bought’ on board as the young blood.

    So here’s what my revised speculative F-1 grid might look like…

    2010 Formula 1 Teams / Drivers (all powered by standard Cosworth engines)

    Williams – N Rosberg – R Grosjean
    Force India – J Trulli – A Sutil
    Aston Martin (Prodrive) – A Davison – T Nakajima
    Lotus (Litespeed) – B Senna – R Kerr
    Lola – N Hulkenberg– S Bourdais
    Eagle (USF1) – M Andretti – G Rahal
    March – T Scheckter – J D’Ambrosio
    Brabham – N Piquet – N Tandy
    Shadow (Wirth Research) – P Maldonado – R Doornbos
    BRM (Superfund) – G Fisichella – P de la Rosa
    Tyrrell (N. Technology) – J Verstappen – D Nakajima

    The problem is, no matter how much you dress it up in tradition, it still looks awfully like a tarted-up GP-2 grid.

  11. Bjorn Schultheiss says:

    Provided there is no 2-tier system i like the idea of a budget cap.

    F1 is ridiculous expensive and it does not represent the common ideals of everyday people.

    As a viewer I would prefer if the cars were built more sustainable and greener (non-petrol). Standards should apply more to the aero than the engine. I dont like how Brawn is dismantling McLaren’s performance based on there aero setup.

    As a fan I would love to see the brands of Ferrari racing against Aston Martin. Hopefully the budget cap also makes it more enticing for the Porsche and Audi brands to have a representation as well.

  12. Craig says:

    Allot has been reported about budget caps to reduce costs, but i t seems to me the FIA/FOM are trying to squeeze money from the teams (40 million budgets caps means they need a smaller share of the profits) while keeping the sport expensive by constantly changing the rules and forcing things likes Kers on to the teams. Keep the rules stable and the smaller teams could re-use this years car.

    I agree with having more teams and all the teams having smaller budgets, but i don’t like they way the FIA keeps changing the rules (usually to correct bad decisions they have made in the past (grooved tyres) and then blaming the teams because they spend so much.

  13. Simon says:

    I think, as ever, FOTA have totally underestimated Max’ resolve and political abilities. Love him or hate him, he’s consistent.

    FOTA leaving to start a new series? Sure. When Hell freezes over and we’re all invited to the skating party. All stuff and nonsense. Its posturing and trying to forge a negotiating position and they’ve misjudged their opponent.

  14. Radu says:

    “The restaurant at Le Mans is open for 24 Hours and remains great, no matter who the diners are.”

    The analogy couldn’t be more inaccurate. Ferrari or McLaren arent the diners. They’re the chefs. I’m willing to bet that “Chez Bernard et Maximilian – cuisine pour les connoisseurs” will charge $300-500 for a menu consisting of hotdogs and cheap beer instead caviar and champagne. Bon appetite.

  15. James Allen says:

    Suzy, I didn’t say it was impossible. Rather that it is not a great time and I’m not sure they really have the stomach for it. Don’t forget also that the manufacturers looked into it seriously in 2004/5 and I know from chats with team bosses etc how tough it looked then.

  16. Suzy says:

    I think they are a lot more fed up with Mosley’s politics now than they were in 2004/05.

    Anyway, good news for FOTA, Brawn says they stay committed to them: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/75901

  17. Foobar says:

    For that matter, what’s to stop any of the bigger teams from really setting up a secondary racing series consisting of a race or two, for example a race in Monaco other in Spa (or wherever), with rules that uncannily resemble F1….but without any R&D cap?

    That way Ferrari, McLaren, etc… could spend big bucks on developing Formula Not-Quite-1 cars – they might as well call it F½ series – and then either sell the results & tech at nominal cost or give them for free to the respective F1 team. For example a team like McLaren[*] F½ could sell their design, swap design information, rebuild the car or even have the same workers & workspace as the real(tm) McLaren F1 team “struggling” under the 40 mil (or whatever) cap.

    Definitely against the “spirit of the rules” – Didn’t they say that about the double diffusors as well? – but hard to outlaw, unless you’re willing to indulge into draconian rules like: “Thou shalt not race under or be affiliated with any other open wheel series”…..Which might as well be a deathblow for the ‘Junior Formulas’ which could lose probably anything from chassis & engines to drivers.

    [*] You can replace the example team used – McLaren – with any of the FOTA big spender teams.

  18. Snail says:

    The problem is, no matter how much you dress it up in tradition, it still looks awfully like a tarted-up GP-2 grid.

    It looks worse than that. Some of those guys you mention haven’t raced in F1 in a long time, and when they did they weren’t that good.

    Looks like “warmed-over” F1. [mod]

    If this happens, I’m watching the FOTA series.

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