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What are the teams to F1?
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What are the teams to F1?
Posted By:   |  06 Jun 2009   |  7:56 am GMT  |  0 comments

I wrote a piece on the ITV F1 website yesterday looking at the prospects for the FOTA teams to start their own breakaway series, which they are being encouraged to do by FIA president Max Mosley.

I mentioned that Max always makes the point that the FIA owns F1 and if teams don’t like it they can go and race elsewhere. The teams of course believe that they are the show.

Mosley compares the role of teams in F1 to patrons in a restaurant; they may eat there every day and spend a great deal of money doing so, but that doesn’t mean they own the restaurant.

Mosley: The Gordon Ramsay of F1?

Mosley: The Gordon Ramsay of F1?

Well overnight I received this message, I won’t say who it’s from, which I though I would share with you,

“When you eat in a restaurant, you don’t have to buy the food, bring the food, create the recipes, bring the chefs, bring the waiters, and cook it and serve it to yourself, do you?

“Whereas, in Formula 1, the teams do indeed do the equivalent of that (ie, pay for the factories in which the cars are built, hire and pay the workers who design and build them, hire and pay the drivers who drive them, hire and pay the guys who run them at races, hire and pay the guys who find the sponsors who in turn help pay for it all, etc etc).

“A more accurate analogy of what the FIA provides would be an empty room in which one was allowed to provide the kitchen equipment and the staff, at one’s own expense, and then cook and serve the meal to oneself.”

There is of course another dimension to this, which is the television coverage.

No-one televises you eating in a restaurant (unless you are on Hell’s Kitchen or some daft programme) but the F1 teams put on a spectacular show, which raises around £800 million a year in revenues from TV companies, of which the teams receive 50%.

That is where the key to this lies. What exactly is the show, is it the restaurant itself or is it the quality of what the teams serve up?

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  1. Bradley says:

    It’s an interesting question, James.

    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.

  2. Benjamin says:

    The feel I have from all this, is that Max Mosley is campaigning for re-election and to put his sex scandal behind. I think that Mosley has a too high opinion of himself… He is not making F1, does he.

    On the other hand, FOTA must accept that the world is changing. You cannot spend 100 million euros on one year on sth which is elitist and damaging for the environement. The public doesn’t accept this anymore…

  3. Number says:

    wow, a great message indeed. Couldn’t said it better in my own words.

    And whats with Max saying that FIA makes the rules and they were doing that for 60 years now…i thought that FIA is here only to make sure the rules are followed, kinda like police, they don’t make the rules, they just insure everyone follows them.

    Or was i wrong?

  4. Aaron James says:

    Ahh James it’s blog entries like this that keep us coming back. Outstanding, thank you so very much for sharing this with us!

  5. Tony Smith says:

    Is it not possible for the FOTA to run parallel series. This would be the cutting edge racing at the tracks that the fans want to see. They could sell the technology to their F1 teams (probably at a very good price). They probably only need to have 8-10 races in Europe to make money on it.

  6. Rich says:

    I think Max’s analogy is completely wrong, I do not even think they FIA provide a bare room, since there is another party the owners of the race tracks which provide a serviced bare room and advertising of it. The problem is Max thinks he is F1 (with FIA) – they are only a regulatory body for governance (should be seen but not heard). Their roles would include safety and arbitration fro fair play and roles with contracts and the broadcasting rights. The show is obviously the teams and to a lesser extend the circuits. FOTA is not being difficult, MAX is being so. The show is the F1 teams, especially Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and Williams. It like going to a rock concert if you go to a Rolling Stones concert you expect Ronnie Wood, Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards. The venue can help the show and there are better venues and worst venues but not many people care to know who the concert organisers are . This should be the way in F1.

  7. dave walker says:

    its quite clearly what the teams bring to “the show” is the show itself, the only show the FIA bring is bad publicity and poor cost cutting rules and rule making decions which in turn can cost millions, i always thought the FIA was there beacause of F1 (it raised there profile) not the other way round. So why is the tail wagging the dog?

    and F1 teams only receve 50% between 10 of them(which with little extra sponser could fund a F1 team) oh my who is pocketing the other 50% and how is this justifyed?

    carnt beleave the FIA was allowed to sell the 100yr right to F1 itself, how strange no?

    i like many other fans beleave the real show starts when the light go out sunday aftenoon, and ends when the flag drops to declare a winner of the race, then between races its just politics which for some reason can no longer be done behind closed doors, i wonder if its because now they need the support of the fans more than ever, so we must feel that emotional twist and turn F1 seem to take in between races, till we cry out at the almost corrupt way it seems to be run! and let us atand and be noticed as a voice that must be heard, for we are the fans, we spread the word on how good or bad F1 is at any givin time we talk with friends, introduce others, debate in the pub.

    We have a bigger role in this than is maybey is being let on to, however we only have credible blogs like this to make our oppinions herd, so lets do it whilst we have the chance, because tomorow they may have shaped a different F1, and we the fans would of just stood by and let them do it.

  8. Joaquín Correa says:

    Maybe Mosley thinks F1 is a feud, with him being the Lord, the teams his vessels (who should do all the work without complaining and expect little in return). I should probably throw Bernie (maybe he’s the King or I don’t know maybe Max is and BE is the Lord…) into the equation but I’m just too tired since it’s 6:49 AM here and I just want to see the Quali.

    anyway sorry for such a stupid analogy, still you can’t blame me for not trying:)

  9. Caron says:

    To continue the analogy, James, what the teams are serving up for us at the moment is steak and oysters it’s more thrilling this season than it has been for ages. The alternative Mosley vision for next year, which is a championship containing all sorts of new teams and none of the old favourites, is the equivalent of nipping to a cheap burger bar. I doubt it’ll satisfy anyone for very long – and then what will the tv companies, who have paid a fortune for the rights, think when nobody watches.

    Any idiot knows you need your big names to attract attention if you want to keep your customers and I think that Mosley’s intransigence is going to cause long term harm to the sport if it’s allowed to continue.

    I’m appalled that apparently the FOTA conditional entry was suggested by him and now he’s hinting at rejecting it.

  10. Tomys says:

    But that is easy answer, isn’t it? :)

    Do you consider that two different games of Barcelona-Manchaster and Stoke-Sparta Prague at very same kitchen Nou Camp have same value? Probably not :-)

  11. Brad PIT says:

    I knew it. Mosley as the sous chef in a restaurant serving junk food while Bernie leading the secret campaign to cheat everybody else to get more tips as a waiter.

  12. Jason C says:

    My view is that the FIA is more like the owner of a shopping centre. Let me explain:

    They provide the basic infrastructure in which retailers can operate (the championship). Their power is their convenience for their customers (tv deals, transport packages, the F1 brand). If the retailers decide to pack up and go somewhere else, the punters will leave too, leaving the shopping centre filled with empty units and pound shops.

  13. Jon says:

    Did you see or read the Friday Press Conference James? I thought it was a good insight into how the teams feel at the moment. With Dominecalli, Flav and Howett bouncing off each other.

    Also, count how many times the word governance was used. There was three issues the teams have a problem with, not just one (the cap).

  14. Ron Colverson says:

    This alternative analogy ignores several other important things which FIA/FOM bring to the restaurant. The whole organisation at each track which supports the racing; the worldwide TV coverage which is actually what brings in the sponsors’ money which the teams are so happy to spend; the history of F1 and the connection with all the other FIA-approved series of which F1 is the pinnacle.
    What the teams bring is very expensive cutlery.

  15. Oliver Drew says:

    The answer, James, is that it is both. No show exists without both the restaurant and the contents. If there is no restaurant…oh I give up with the metaphor.

    If there is no F1 World Championship then there is no need for the teams. However, there will always be teams for F1.

    I have watched F1 since I was 7 (1992) and the only teams from then who are still around are Williams, Ferrari and McLaren. The rest have left or changed hands.

    F1 has always adapted in order to survive. Now it needs to adapt again, hence the budget cap. F1 cars will still be the fastest race cars in the World with a budget of £40million.

    Having said that, I do think that more of the TV money should go to the teams. It would be fairer if it was a 60-40 distribution with the teams receiving the 60%.

    However, if the current teams do not find a deal with the FIA (I think Force India and Brawn will jump ship regardless, if not Red Bull too) then F1 will adapt and survive, and welcome lots of new teams. Even if all the current teams survive I think that new teams are critical to F1 anyway.

  16. Liquid says:

    Well..thats a good comparison i’d say!

  17. Kenny says:

    It would not be absolutely necessary for FOTA teams to start a new series straightaway- they could participate in existing series’, like LMS/ALMS, or they could take a break from fielding a factory team for a year. This would give them the time to properly organize an alternative to F1, or perhaps, find out that such a thing is not feasible.

  18. Ian says:

    This is why Bernie has been, and will the, the key to all this. FOM holds all the cards and if there was a breakaway with the big teams and Bernie followed, I would guess the FIA would be up a creek without a paddle.

    I really hope it doesn’t happen as Indy Cars never quite recovered and the FIA should learn from that.

    ‘Show me the Money’

  19. steve says:

    finally a more balanced article that considers FOTAs point of view not just reporting Mosleys words as final truth.

    All FIA provides is a room in a fancy location.

    It might be hard to find another room in a fancy location, but if FOTAs hand is forced, theyll find one and carry the show with them there.
    Mosleys F1 will be a shell of its former self with the new occupants preparing and serving watery prison soup while the caviar etc will be in the new location.

    Hope I didnt push the analogy too far, but thats pretty much what it is.

    Mosleys bet is that they cant find a new room in a fancy location so he can do whatever he wants without taking their views into consideration.

    Its very sad that journalists and people in the media are not calling him out on this.

  20. Edward says:

    Continuing this metaphor, the FIA are, at best, the landlord on whose property the restaurant operates. Bernie most represents a marketing firm with an exclusive, multi-year retainer. The restaurant owners (teams) can move to another property (drop the FIA), albeit not with substantial effort, but they probably won’t succeed without their marketing people.

    As much as I am loathe to admit it, Bernie/FOM are key to resolving this situation. By my understanding, it is they who own the F1 brand, and they have contacts and contracts with the race venues. They also stand to lose most from a breakaway series. Is it unreasonable to suggest that Bernie would sooner wrest control from the FIA than see Ferrari leave the sport? I think not, but perhaps you know better.

  21. Suzy says:

    The show is the teams AND the drivers. And the key to poularity is marketing and image.

    On the image side Mosley’s new F1 will have tradition on its side. That by the name “Formula One” they can claim continuity to the series where once Fangio, Senna, Prost, Schumacher etc. raced.

    On the other hand, FOTA’s new series will have to try and convince the public that after the split they have the best drivers and best teams and all FIA has is a hollow name and some GP2 teams and drivers running under it. Of course, it helps if, besides Ferrari and other great manufacturers, they manage to take the main star drivers with them, such as Alonso, Räikkönen and Hamilton.

    The media are also important. Which series manages to find more media coverage for itself? There the FIA has an advantage, of course, with the contracts they have with TV channels, but if FOTA’s series will have the main manufacturers and drivers it shouldn’t be too difficult for them to find alternative media outlets for themselves. Especially if they sell themselves cheaper for them!

  22. Nuvolarifan says:

    Okay, it must be asked, what does it mean when you say “The Gordon Ramsay of F1?”

  23. sean says:

    it’s more possibly a drive through and maybe the drive through should start taking the cue from the largest drive through in the world and give the customers [FOTA] the ability to choose what they want.
    JAMES is there any way you could find out who holds the rights to the names eg:F1,Grand Prix etc

  24. Mark says:

    Who would have the most to lose if the teams did break away? It wasn’t all that long ago that Max was talking about the teams getting more money from Bernie and Max has also said that the FIA would surport a breakaway. So I tend to wonder if Max is pushing the teams away from Bernie as punishment for Bernie calling for his head after the sex scandal.

  25. Boston F1 Fan says:

    - Jeremy Clarkson said something about this! Referring to the BBC taking over for ITV:

    “But unfortunately, television companies are simply waiters, bringing the product to your table. And I’m not certain that changing them will make much of a difference. ”

    - So if we extend this metaphor further, the fans are the patrons, the TV broadcaster are the waiters, the teams are the chefs, and the racing is the food. Bernie is the owner. Where does the FIA fit in? It doesn’t, and it shouldn’t.

  26. phil c says:

    The show is the teams, not max, not bernie, not CVC capital partners. Everybody in the world wakes up to watch, Ferrari Renault, BMW, Alonso, Kimi, Vettell etc etc.

    F1 is a marketing monster, all because of the show that is being created. Bernie could not seel the tv rights to any network without the teams putting on a show, plain and simple. An no matter what happend in the past, with old teams lining up and replacing existing teams etc etrc. the world of f1 and sponsorship is completely different today compared to 10 even 15 years ago.

    If the FOTA teams leave there are f1 will be poorer for it. It is a matter of calculating how much poorer.

    The reality is if one team leaves, f1 doesnt get severely damaged, because there is enough recongnisable names in f1 to protect the viewing numbers. But if 8 teams leave f1 is dead in the water. No matter what the budget cap is or the rules.

    Sponsors attach themselves to everything assocaited in f1 because of teams/drivers like mclaren, ferrari, alonso, kimi, vettell etc etc. Sponsor ship on every car, tracks, tv rights would collapse over night. Because i have no doubt that there would be clauses in everyone of these contracts that would include viewing figures, team entered in f1 etc etc.

    The whole problem with f1 is the funding, and the restaraunt response is a true reflections. The overall networth, the money generated in f1 is a result of the teams, drivers, putting on a show.

    Personally i hope the teams start a rival series, money earnt in the first instances will be eqivalent to what bernie currently offers and will only increases, because it will be able to put on a better show. The new series will have all the recongnised names/drives and sponsors will gladly follow. f1 is a name and very important, but that name will become worthless overnight. Think how many viewers alone in Germany, italy, spain, uk, france, would follow and watch a new series, with mclaren, ferrari, redbull, bmw, renault, brawn. I tip the best part of 300million people. Crack the us market were the teams want to go, and all of a sudden we have a championship that is more popular then f1. Sponsor will attached themselves because the product is better, more recongnised names which is easier to relate to with the consumer.

  27. BobhereYo says:

    Just think, last year at this time everyone was calling for Max’s resignation.

  28. robatclaxby says:

    If there were to be a breakaway by the top teams, I believe that the fans would take sides in favour of the people who have given them the most ENTERTAINMENT over the years.
    and be against the spoilers, (FIA). Most of us are fed up with Max & Bernies Circus, and their petty rules and regs changes
    every other week. which is costing teams millions of wasted pounds a year. which has put up the price of seats at GPs to an extortionate level, and priced most of us out of going.
    Lets smash M&Bs dictatorship once and for all, and bring sport back into racing I SAY.

  29. Deon says:

    If there is a break-away series I will be watching that. The quality and innovation of the teams make F1.

    All these humpty dumpty teams wanting to play with the big boys makes a mockery of what F1 has become. Yes maybe 15 or 20 years ago, they could have made a worthy entrant, but F1, along with the cars and technology of today, has evolved.

    In a year or two when they realise it doesnt pay off coming last each year they will pull out. No one remembers the small teams that come and go each year. The teams that are most supported have been involved for many many years.

    I dont miss a race, so if the teams do decide to go there own way, then I will stop watching Max’s circus and watch the real racing of any new series where the likes of Ferrari, Mclaren, Toyota, Williams, BMW race.

    My two cents worth…

  30. Benjamin says:

    Good point, Oliver. But there hasn’t been a year when 3-5 major teams left and and 5 other new entries came in… it musn’t become a GP1, for sure…

  31. Suzy says:

    BTW, there was much talk about the FIA being able to sue Ferrari if they leave and therefore Ferrari being between a rock and a hard place.

    What about FIA’s own rock and hard place? I can imagine a lot of TV channels suing FIA if they can’t come up with a show that’s regarded to be on the same niveau as before and that is as popular and as watched as the old F1. TV stations didn’t pay for GP2-level show and audience…

  32. James Allen says:

    He’s saying F1 is like a restaurant and that the FIA owns it…

  33. Jon says:

    Its’s true that if there is any resturaunt (and I hate the metaphor but let’s go with it), Bernie owns it, not FIA.

    However Bernie sold the commercial rights to CVC, so they own it, (however Bernie still owns a small percentage).

    And all the money hungryness of Bernie, to both the teams and the circuits (as circuits continue to fall off the calender) is to pay off the monster CVC debt. Which is the main reason why the teams get under 50% share of annual profits. Maybe this would be talked about in the media more, if people weren’t scared to lose their press passes.

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