F1 Winter Break
My take on McLaren and Ferrari's love-in
My take on McLaren and Ferrari's love-in
Posted By:   |  03 Feb 2009   |  12:14 pm GMT  |  7 comments

Last week a few of us were invited for dinner at an Italian restaurant in Chelsea by the heads of communication from both McLaren and Ferrari. It’s a shame the invitation was electronic, if it had been printed on card I would have framed it.

It seemed as unlikely as Peter Mandelson being invited to join the cabinet by his arch enemy Gordon Brown…except that, as in that situation, needs must.

The dinner was the public face of a private event that day, which showed how far relations have changed between F1’s two top teams. Ferrari’s Luca Colajanni had been invited by his opposite number at McLaren, Matt Bishop, to visit the factory in Woking and meet new team principal Martin Whitmarsh, his number two Jonathan Neale and to have a long chin wag with the retiring boss Ron Dennis.

Eighteen months ago, or even a year ago this would have been inconceivable. In the aftermath of the Nigel Stepney spy scandal (incidentally Stepney is now working at an engineering firm in Essex, but that’s another story) where Ferrari technical secrets were passed to McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan, you would not have believed that the cold war between the two teams could thaw to that extent. Colajanni’s visit was symbolic, it paved the way for other more senior figures from Ferrari, like team principal Stefano Domenicali and president Luca di Montezemolo to come over. And it sent a simple message to the FIA and to Bernie Ecclestone.

So what does it all mean? Well two significant changes have brought this about; one is the retirement of Jean Todt as Ferrari team principal. He and Dennis had a deep suspicion of each other which started back in the 1990s and only ever got worse, culminating in the spy scandal of 2007. The other is the establishment of FOTA, the teams’ association, which is doing some good work behind the scenes to bring the teams together as one body with one voice and get F1 onto a stronger footing for the future.

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Did Nigel Stepney not have to put a case to the FIA as to why he should be allowed to be involved in motorsport? As he's still working for Gigawave he must have convinced them. Anyway, excellent stuff as usual from you, James.


Well its good to see the boys playing nicely together at last. After the frog and toad era. But what surprises me is the obvious delight and amazement of all, concerning the advent of FOTA, after all it is only a direct renaming of FOCA which has been around since just after Stonehenge was built.

If Bernie has pushed the teams together by himself alienating them, then I am quite sure he has done so deliberately, he may be a money grasping old bugger but one thing he aint is stupid. We watch with interest to see the plot unfold. Maybe Mclaren could get a Ferrari style bonus too.


This does seem very interesting ... Also is the FOTA all about bringing more power to the teams? Kinda like a 'Prometheus' affect ...


Thanks again James. I agree with "rpaco". I am sure that Bernie is allowing this to happen without a big fight. He might not be happy that the teams will end up taking more money from what he considers is HIS share. But looking at how things are going between Bernie and Max Mosley, it seems like this is just another way to make life harder for Max. I am sure Max won't be in office in 2012. But it always seemed that Max aimed to keep the upper hand with the FIA, and not with the teams. As long as Formula one prevails, than I am sure the most important players will be happy, and by that i mean the fans.


Hi James. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on whether the current deal the teams have with Bernie Ecclestone is fair. The teams seem to believe they don't get enough and Bernie thinks they get plenty. I'd also be interested in finding out what happens with the money that the teams do not receive.

Another thing that I'd like to query is the cost that is involved in getting the rights to hold a GP. Is there any chance that this fee will be lowered due to the cost cutting the teams will be making over the next couple of seasons? Clearly with events like the Canadian GP falling off the calendar it's a bit of a worry. I'm pretty sure Melbourne will follow suit in the next year or two if things don't change.


IM: Yes I was wondering what Bernie's objective was, you may have put your finger on it there, to minimise Max!

After this has been achieved, no doubt he has a plan to create a rift between red and silver again, divide and conquer in the following stage. Cunning as a fox who has eaten a big plate of extra cunning. (As Baldrick may have put it )


Here's a thought, what if all this FOTA fuss is a way of getting the FIA out of F1?

Is there any reason that F1 needs the FIA's involvement? What I mean is could they not run the F1 championship without the FIA sanctioning it?

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