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FOTA welcomes Williams and Force India back into the fold
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FOTA welcomes Williams and Force India back into the fold
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Sep 2009   |  6:28 pm GMT  |  21 comments

Williams and Force India have been welcomed back into the Formula One Teams Association, having been asked to leave over the summer when they broke ranks and signed up to the F1 championship, rather than follow the breakaway movement.

With the resolution of that conflict in late July, it was always expected that the two would be readmitted at some point, but at a FOTA meeting in Monza today they came in from the cold.

This weekend marks the first anniversary of the key moment when FOTA was formed and I remember the atmosphere in the paddock as the team bosses delighted in the fact that they had formed what they felt was an unbreakable union. You always knew that things would never be quite the same again, once the teams agreed to stick together.

That union was severely tested in the last 12 months, the two teams were expelled along the way and the stand-off with the FIA and FOM led to the announcement of a breakaway in late June.

That brought about a deal and the signature of the Concorde Agreement until 2012 and, as I speculated a few weeks ago they might, the FOTA members have suggested that they would like to start talks to stabilise things beyond 2012.

This would be great news for the sport in that it would avoid another bloody war in two years time over share of money and governance. But there will still be a tough road ahead because the teams want a lot more money next time around and, as CVC’s figures of $500 million loss on F1 released yesterday show, there is a limit to how far they might be prepared to go to accommodate the teams.

Also it will be interesting to see whether all the manufacturers in FOTA are willing to commit to a period of maybe five years beyond 2012.

It sounds like Mercedes will, as they appear to have bought a controlling interest in the Brawn team, to go with their 40% stake in McLaren.

Here’s today’s FOTA statement in full:

“The FOTA Executive Committee, chaired by Luca di Montezemolo, today enjoyed a productive meeting in Monza. FOTA re-affirmed that all teams competing in Formula One are able to join the association. FOTA therefore welcomes back into full membership both Williams and Force India.

“The Executive Committee also looks forward to welcoming the new entrants to join the association whilst they continue to prepare for next year’s championship.The FOTA Executive Committee looks forward to working with the FIA and Commercial Rights Holder to promote a healthy, dynamic and sustainable sport. To this end, FOTA intends to now enter into open discussion with the Commercial Rights Holder with the wish to confirm arrangements beyond 2012.

“Furthermore, FOTA will now arrange a seminar, open to representatives of the major stakeholders (including Media, Sponsors and Promoters), to discuss how working together we can develop the show creating a more attractive spectacle for the fans.”

I look forward to taking part in that seminar.

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21 Comments
  1. jeremy says:

    Hi James,

    Great news they’ve allowed them back in. Things have seemed to calm down since the Concord signing and this is great news for the future of the sport. I completely agree all competing teams should be involved in negotiations.

    Do you have any concrete evidence on the Merc buy-in to BGP?

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m hearing the same things as were written this evening on Reuters, check that out

      1. Adrian says:

        You speaking to Ross this weekend?

  2. John says:

    Not that it’s surprising news really, but I guess I’m left a little puzzled by the thinking involved.

    If Williams and Force India weren’t able to stick with FOTA in the past, what makes FOTA think they will in the future? That being the case, why let them back in?

    FOTA just seems like an organization that is chummy when times are good, but when it comes time to stick your necks out and take a risk, the unity crumbles.

  3. Pepe says:

    James, can Renault be kicked out of FOTA because of the race fix incident???

    1. James Allen says:

      If proven, I would wonder whether the team would remain in F1..

  4. John says:

    If Renault loose the hearing on the 21st will FOTA expel them?

  5. Red Kimi says:

    Good… that will put an end to some teams having KERS and others not next year

  6. artorwar says:

    Just a shot in the dark but would FOTA be interested in hearing from some of the fans as well? Seems sensible to me…and of course I would be more than happy to help out haha

  7. Ali Adams says:

    Can Renault leave F1 if expelled from last year championship only and were given a heavty fine? Aren’t they bound by the Concord Agreement till 2012, or is there an out clause in such cases?

  8. Snail says:

    as CVC’s figures of $500 million loss.

    From what I’ve read of CVC’s losses (which of course could be nonesense and company accounts of the type CVC and the various holding companies related with it publish are designed to mislead *) they’ve structured things so that they post large losses each year and the size of the loss is in large part up to CVC. Its to do with how agressively they pay back their loan etc. Looking at the other side of loan, they make greater profits at the end of the deal the more aggressively they pay back. I see no reason the teams should help them make even greater profits when CVC has no intention of sharing those greater profits with the teams.

    Frankly, their 10% hike in race fees per year business plan is barm-pot stuff. Prices are pretty much at breaking point already without them outstripping inflation by 2 or 3 times.

    * Its not too hard to have a company that is making money, but posting a technical loss and thus paying no tax if you have the right accountants and right business model. No fraud required. All perfectly legit, even if morally dubious.

    As such I feel no sympathy for CVC and its “losses”. I’m sure the “losses” are running at levels they can handle for the required period, followed by the gargantuan profit afterwards. Even if they aren’t capable of servicing their debt, CVC is a venture capital firm – that is their business model is based on taking firm, calculated risks. So if they’ve got it wrong: Tough, it was their choice, no one forced them to make it.

    1. Rudy Pyatt says:

      Bang on target. “Posted losses”? Lies, damn lies and statistics.

      Of course, if they really ARE bleeding, someone gets to buy them out at a bargain price, probably through some kind of reversion clause. BEcause a shrewd operator would be likely to do that…

    2. " for sure " says:

      Joe Saward has a good piece on this which demonstates how meaningless this supposed loss is.

  9. Steve Parker says:

    The statement ends with

    “to discuss how working together we can develop the show creating a more attractive spectacle for the fans.”

    Everyone involved in F1 quotes (and I think believes) the mantra that F1 is the “pinnacle of motorsport”. Every now and then, this word “spectacle” comes into the equation.

    What is your view, James, on how much F1 is about Sport, Engineering, and Spectacle? Where is the balance?

    Football (soccer) I would class as “Sport”; At the other extreme, WWF is “Spectacle”. To me, these both have low value (though I appreciate that others enjoy them). If F1 truly is the “pinnacle of motorsport”, and that is the goal of the teams, that is good. If the real goal is “Spectacle”, that devalues the brand quite significantly, IMHO. WWF is about Spectacle, and loses credibility because of that fact.

    1. Snail says:

      Steve,

      You seem to be posing sport vs spectacle as a zero sum game: to have more spectacle you get less sport and vice versa.

      With WWF I think that is largely true.

      However I don’t think that has to be true for other sports. Almost by definition any sport that involves high speeds (relative to whatever passes for normal for non-sporting versions) has spectacle just as part and parcel of the fact it is “high speed”. Motor racing, powerboat racing and so forth all inevitably have overtaking manoeuvres and accidents, all of which are part of the spectacle.

      Sure you can tweak things to make crashes more likely, but I don’t think that is happening. You could make things so that overtaking happens a bit more. But I don’t think its a zero sum game. You can have engineering, sporting and spectacle at the same time.

  10. Alex T says:

    I am surprised Williams has been readmitted.

  11. Werewolf says:

    The discussions over the future will, I am sure, take many turns between now and whatever resolution is reached. Key to all of it will be the players, with several – probably including Ecclestone – unlikely to be in place by the end of it. The identity of the next FIA president will doubtless have an impact too.

    Strategically, surely FOTA must make serious contingency plans for a breakaway series at an early stage. Although few teams probably really want it, the leverage will be more than useful in dealing with CVC, whose only interest, especially if and when Ecclestone bows out, will be financial.

  12. ciao says:

    CVC paid the most for the most overvalued classed assets globally. Anything slightly sexy was a honeypot for them and they paid stupid multiples. Like the Australian media assets from Packer, remember the mogul Alan Bond who Lonrho called for an asset price ramping ponzi scheme master and who ended up in prison. Well he bought out Packer Sr too at crazy prices and Kerry Packer said you only get one Alan Bond in your life (and you would be a mug not to take the offer) but then you’ve got a whole board of mugs at CVC. Funny how history repeats. CVC is going down.

    But back to the news. Is Williams going to run its KERS in 2010 or not?

  13. Chris Suett says:

    James,

    In playing “catch up” I have just read and enjoyed your article on “FOTA welcomes Williams and Force India back into the fold”. I am intrigued by the reference that “FOTA will now arrange a seminar . . . attractive spectacle for the fans.”

    For some time now I have much preferred reading about F1 to actually watching it.
    So I thought: what is needed to bring me back and what is it that puts me off ?

    So: hopefully in brief.

    The Start. All should have equal an opportunity at the start of a race. F1 uses a system of try to find the fastest and then put them at the front. Then nobble the competition by means of car damage, slower cars holding back faster cars, etc.

    The Race. Use aero technology to prevent overtaking and use a nice wide track that has a narrow race line, the rest of the track collects all the dirt to help keep other competitors behind. I could go on.

    The result. Races mostly decided by pit stops, and by the time that some cars get a clear run they have lost too much time to try and get a result. I think that I am with your family in preferring motocross to F1.

    So: what would I like to see as a trial or as a discussion topic ?

    The Start. At the end of the warm up lap use a line astern stop and go system on the actual start line, say 0.25 of a second minimum completely stationary – then go. The following cars to get a time delay allowance compared to the first car. All cars get a time adjustment / pay back option some 20 to 30 laps into the race on a stop-wait-go basis. Result ? Cars racing in line astern at the end of lap one just as now, except ALL the all cars will still be in their race trim and all on the same time footing. Any damage will most likely be self inflicted. It almost already happens when a race is started under Safety Car rules.

    The Race Track. Create a clear option to get past by putting a line of traffic cones down the centre of a short length of the track: through a chicane maybe. I know it will be dubbed a slot car effect but it will create two separate and clear racing lines. This should allow a quicker car to enter a corner without being blocked or having a coming together. Making the two racing lines equal in their effect on a lap time is not difficult. I am not saying that every track needs a parallel racing line option but most of them do.

    The Benefits of the Above. Thousands of pounds saved in damaged nose cones or other car damage. The spectators get to see a full field of undamaged and working race cars at the end of lap one. The avoidance of lap after lap of waiting for a pit stop just to get past. Cars competing throughout the field. e.g. after Monza today Mark Webber would have had a race, and Adrian Sutil would have had chance to show his true pace. Many similar comments can be made about all the previous races.

    The above would make qualifying less relevant. So I would start the race based on the Championship standings. Something along the lines of 4,3,2,1,8,7,6,5, etc. as the starting line up. Use the present Saturday qualifying session as a one hour race for a third car and a third or reserve driver competition. Useful test data for the teams maybe and the chance for newer drivers in a smaller field.

    Enough of my musing and – if you have been – then thank you for reading. I am interested in any comments that the team bosses, the drivers and others might have to make on my thoughts. Particularly the ones who have had big crash bills to pay or have had their race plans ruined. Your time must be a precious commodity so I can also live with the delete key being pressed as an alternative solution.
    BUT. You did report that FOTA wanted to improve the spectacle.

    I shall now get back to reading about the break aways, the politics, the accusations, etc. Often far more interesting than the races and I thank you for your many articles and contributions.
    Since I “found” http://www.jamesallenonf1.com it is now one of my regular reading favourites.

    Regards,
    Chris Suett.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for that, Chris. Be sure to spread the word

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