F1 Winter Break
Messy start to season in prospect
Messy start to season in prospect
Posted By:   |  21 Mar 2009   |  7:48 am GMT  |  70 comments

It was all looking so good, Ross Brawn saves the Honda team, the car turns out to be a rocket ship, David threatens Goliath, a shake up of the old order was in prospect. The racing was shaping up to be really close, with many teams on roughly the same pace. In other words a great season was in prospect, as many of you have said in your comments on this blog.

And now with a week to go until the first race, we have the FIA backtracking on the winner takes all points rule, because the FOTA teams did not unanimously agree it and then there is the virtual certainty of a messy technical protest into the legality of the diffusers on some of the cars, including Brawn, which will dominate the weekend and be well beyond the understanding of most of the fans and the media.

F1’s capacity to shoot itself in the foot is to the fore again.

As I’ve been saying in my recent posts here since the Barcelona test, the Brawn car is seriously fast, perhaps fast enough to stay out front for quite a while before teams like Ferrari and BMW catch up. It would be intriguing if one of the Brawn drivers got a good head start on the field with four or five early wins.

It would then be tough for one other driver to get beyond that total. With McLaren seemingly out of the picture at the start of the season and the two Ferrari drivers likely to share the wins between them across the season, the way is clear if one of the Brawn guys can gain supremacy, to open up a bit of a lead, which under the winner takes all system might make him champion.

Ed Gorman in the Times today writes that this is the suspicion of the FIA as to why the teams are now refusing to sign off on the new winner tales all system for deciding the champion.

Brawn’s pace is certainly not going to encourage the other teams to sign up, but I think the real reason the teams have kicked back on this one is simply because they can.

To bring in a new rule at short notice requires the teams to sign off on it unanimously and, stunned by the FIA’s budget cap move, they’ve said, “You know what? We aren’t going to to that, Max.”

Mosley must have known that there was a risk of this and the blame appears to be being deflected onto the teams, but also onto Bernie Ecclestone, who allegedly told Mosley that the teams were on side with the new system. Maybe they were at the time, but given the opportunity to put the brakes on an FIA initiative, they’ve taken it.

In other words its another step in what is now clearly going to be a drawn out battle
between the FIA and the FOTA teams. It’s not what anyone wants or needs, for a sport to be seen to not know what the hell it’s doing eight days before the start of a new season. One of my old heads of sport at ITV, a football man, used to say that he quite liked F1 as a spectacle, but that it too often it opened itself up to ridicule. And that’s what we have again here.

The FIA brought out some stunning material on Tuesday, particularly the £30 million budget cap, which would oblige the top teams to shed three quarters of it workforce, and would encourage a gold rush for new teams to come in to the sport.

This blocking move by FOTA and the embarrassment caused to the FIA, is likely to harden the FIA’s resolve to leave the capped figure at £30 million, rather than negotiate it up to the £50-60 million, which is more feasible.

I was also interested to see Lewis “No comment” Hamilton commenting quite strongly yesterday on this. His words, especially the second paragraph below, read like they were drafted by a FOTA or McLaren speechwriter, but as the reigning world champion, who has hitherto kept his opinions to himself, his words carry real weight,

“It’s a shame what is happening to Formula One. It’s hard to believe that these recent decisions will improve things for the trackside spectators and TV viewers, who should always be our No1 priority, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

“For the first time in recent years we have the teams, drivers, sponsors and fans all working together for the good of our sport – now we just need the governing bodies to listen to us and help us.”

Yesterday’s short statement by the FIA that the new system would not be introduced if the teams did not all agree it, sits oddly for me. Max Mosley is famous for planning everything meticulously. Something has gone wrong here.

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And what about the poor punters who had placed money on a Brawn driver to take the title using the FIA system... Lucky for me my money is still in my wallet!


We had Ferrari/Mclarengate.
Then Mosleygate.
Now Winnersgate.

When will the FIA and F1 as a whole stop kicking it's self?

Here we go again!!


I have to say I am not surprised by the backtracking on the medal system, it was ridiculous in the first place. I am pleased to see it gone.

The budget cap proposal isnt a solution either. Its like telling Usain Bolt he can't run 9.6secs in the 100m because he's trained too hard and invested too much time in his career!

I can see the rear diffuser issue plaguing the opening grand prix and subsequent ones, just because Brawn is fast. So whatever happens, the results wont stand because they are likely to be protested. Why the FIA cant make decisions on legalities BEFORE the season starts i dont know. Just come out and say its legal/illegal now and be done with it.

Ps: Great website James, and good Twittering too!


thanks for your thoughts james. i agree - something has definately gone wrong - i wouldn't lke to be the legal advisor to the FIA; a mistake was made in their haste to show muscle. Well done FOTA - their first (pyrrhic?) victory.

If you're right James lets hope Jenson can handle the pressure and score some early wins - oh how things change - remember his forlorn figure walking past hamilton's car at sunset in brazil?


Max Mosley is famous for planning everything meticulously. Something has gone wrong here.

Well he perhaps needs to start by reading his organisation's own rules, remembering perhaps that he himself is not a majority of team representatives, which supposedly is required to change the rules. He (the FIA) also ignored the timing for rule changes within the published F1 rules.

However he/they said that the changes were made under the "Concord agreement" I cannot find a copy of that anywhere so can someone please advise what it says. Does it override the F1 rulebooks?

Their latest statement that IF all the teams did not agree, it would be postponed is fatuous since the teams were never asked.

If the imposition of new rules was a power play by Max to assert his authority over the teams it has failed very publicly.

Max and Bernie should take this revolution by the teams as a big hint to leave.


the FIA backtracking on the winner takes all points rule, because the FOTA teams did not unanimously agree it

Isn't this just the FIA trying to put a positive spin on what actually is an error on their part?

They cannot seriously have considered that their proposed system had the full support of the teams when the teams had recently put forward their own and completely different solution.

I think the mistake lay in failing to realise they couldn't push through a rule at such short notice without the support of the teams.

The statement is the FIA's way of declaring they got it wrong without admitting anything.

His words, especially the second paragraph below, read like they were drafted by a FOTA or McLaren speechwriter

I think you're definitely right about that! For pity's sake can't they let them speak their own minds?


Got to agree on Hamilton's comments. That quote is just too perfect to be his own words. That isn't to say he doesn't believe them, but if FOTA wanted maximum impact then a denouncement from Hamilton is what they would have wanted.

I'd love to think the FIA, Bernie and Max aren't so petty as to respond in kind, but experience tells me otherwise.


About time someone stood up and stuck two fingers at the FIA and their ridiculously bullying tactics. I get the impression they're more interested in flexing their muscles rather than wishing to do anything for the sport. I also wonder if the reason behind their hare-brained ideas, outrageous penalties, spanky videos in red tops, is just one big publicity stunt to reduce the value of Bernie's stake in F1 to suppress the amount of the divorce settlement?


What went wrong here in this ridiculous power game is that desire of Max and Bernie to show FOTA who actually has power in formula one went so high, that they started to do mistakes. Such as to overlook basic rights of competitors.

I can't believe that WMSC were willing to vote on something without teams' agreement. If that agreement is formally needed in a such big thing like 10-day-notice rule change, you of course need it in written, usualy by fax is enough for FIA.

Friday's FIA press release is one big lie, effort to hide and lessen huge embarrassment, by saying he "had been told that the teams were in favour". Can you believe it?!

Exactly as you say, Max was always able to get his things done in appropriate way but here not only him but whole WMSC made a incredible procedural mistake. Yet, FIA says "IF, for any reason, the Formula One teams do not NOW agree..." (note the words IF and NOW insisting WMSC did nothing wrong).

FIA published new Sporting regulations day later and these Sporting regulations (with winner takes it all system) are still valid and visible on FIA website. So either this will remain valid, IF teams, for any reason, will not express their disagreement in formal way (i.e. not pure press release but formal sort-of protest lodged?), as there is no reason according to FIA's Friday press release, or WMSC has to call them off. But this can be done only by WMSC fax vote since FIA insists that WMSC vote procedure was correct.

Bernie is 78 years old and Max is 68 year old, they are ignoring FOTA and more seriously they are ignoring public, including formula one fans like me and you, James...

There is interesting information though, Czech FIA delegate Radovan Novak after his return from Paris said, that WMSC agrees with winner takes it all system subject to Bernie is able to get all ten teams approval. He was the only one in entire world to say that, because everybody (and correctly) including me were arguing that WMSC decision is not subject to anything and rules were published. Probably without him knowing, he knew that teams' approval is required, but didn't know that it is required before WMSC vote, unless in that decision the "subject to teams approval" would be specifically stated. But that is exactly what could not happen (as Max and Bernie knew) because teams would not agree and rules would remain the same as before. But that FIA could not publish new version the very next day...

Max and Bernie are ridiculing Formula One and I am frankly angry about that.


So Ed Gorman thinks the teams vetoed the rule because they feared a spanking from Brawn?

Nice theory apart from the little fact that the teams unaminously agreed to veto the rule - obviously Brawn were also against it too.

A bad rule is a bad rule, and hopefully it has gone for good, not just one year.

What is more worrying is that the cars with 'trick' diffusers - Brawn, Williams, Toyota - grab a whole load of points, maybe even fill the podium - and then get DSQ'd.

What a nightmare start to the season what would be.


Can someone explain the hierarchy here please? Does the WMSC oversee the FIA? Where does FOM come into the power pyramid in terms of setting the rules. Does the infamous Concord Agreement overrule all the published rules or what?

Are there greater and bigger and more prestigious rules that are above those published by the FIA because it seems that we see one set of rules (well ok two, the sporting and the tech) published by the FIA which include provisions for changing themselves.

But then Max and co seem to be on a different plane (I was going to say planet, but that would be too much to hope for) which can dictate rule changes willy nilly without the laid down procedures being followed.

As far as I can see from the published Sporting rules, a simple majority of FOTA members is required to change the rules unless they are concerned with safety.


The potential (and seeming certainty) for the diffuser row to rumble on to Melbourne and beyond displays staggering levels of poor management by the FIA.

Concerns were voiced at the launch of the Toyota and Williams cars back in January.

It should have been thoroughly investigated and a ruling made one way of the other way before the start of the season.


Edit add to above:
Nowhere in the published rules does it say that the FIA can change the rules at it's own or any other party's instigation other than for safety issues.


I look at the situation like this :

1. Max wanted the system to stay, 10-8-6-etc...

2. FOTA wanted new system 12-9-etc...

3. Bernie wanted winner takes all system.

For me, Max (FIA) is the winner here, he made Bernie look like a fool (admitedly, that wasn't too hard) and made FOTA look like a bunch of people that can't agree on anything (firstly they were for new system, now they aren't). So, he got what he wanted.

He always does that. The same will be with budget caps. He probably wants cap around 60 mil€. But he uses 30 mil € as a starting point, and when FOTA fights him to 60 mil they will be happy because they achieved "something". But Max will be a winner again, because he wanted 60 mils from the start, 30 mil € budget cap was just something to keep teams busy...

Gotta love F1 politics!


I don't understand why everyone here is so upset. It's very clear why this was done... Mr. Bernie and the sport got tons of free publicity before the season starts; even public television in my small country announced it....

So... Great job Mr. Bernie! 🙂

They surely knew what is written in the regulations, but this way they spiced it all up... Not everyone follow F1 like we do and this stupid story is done for them...

Great place to read comments Mr. James... Keep up the good work!


It is time Bernie and Max left F1 they have done nothing but mess around with it for over a decade now. Getting rid of slicks in 97 was the first sign of the changes year after year to come.

Qualy changes every year now. Nothing was wrong with the 12 lap 60 min shoot out.

Bringing back traction control taking it away again.

Rules beeing changed mid season like tyres and mass dampers.

As James said it is likley to happen this season to if Brawn win.

Time to retire Bernie you dont know what you are doing.


"Max and Bernie are ridiculing Formula One and I am frankly angry about that."

I couldn't agree more with that. I think Mosley has to go -- and should have gone off season already.

I think it's a good thing that the Olympic style system has been scrapped, but doing it at the eleventh hour is typical FIA.


A stupid rule and I am glad to see the back of it. The FIA's arrogrance is typical but ill judged.

The teams had a different solution to the points and so quite clearly didn't back this.

But I have to be honest, the politics of F1 is one of its many facets I love.


I think its plainly obvious that the F1 teams NEVER wanted a "winner takes all" structure to the drivers championship. Look at the FOTA proposal that the WMSC voted down... that was the FOTA's definition as the "best rules for the sport".

I think they agreed that the winning driver should be rewarded more (hence the 12pt for the winner in their proposal), but not to the point of finishing in second, third, fourth etc becoming redundant.

I really don't know how Max got fooled into the idea that the teams wanted this to go through. I think its a bit of tomfoolery with bernie saying that "the teams want it" but really they never wanted and it was only bernie that wanted it.

Good riddance to this stupid rule! I agree that the winner should get 12 points, second gets 8, 3rd gets 6 etc but the "winner takes all" structure is just ridiculous.


Great piece James, as is becoming very regular 🙂

My take on this, is that I wonder if this is Mosley scoring a bit of a goal on Ecclestone. The FIA press release clearly indicates that it was the commercial rights holder who told the WMSC that all the teams were on board.

Although one does have to wonder, if all the teams were apparently on board, why then did they propose a very different scoring regime to the WMSC in the first place.

*That* is the question that needs to be asked of Mosley and Ecclestone.


Are you kidding me, James? It's just silly to claim that FOTA refused new point system because of Brawn GP...You've been supporting these crazy ideas coming from Max&Bernie since the very beginning..."Brawn GP" seems to me a very poor excuse at the mo. The question is what has gone wrong with you and Ed Gorman?


Good summary James. Quite a mess.

I wish Max and Bernie would just move on.


I think you are spot on here, James. This latest news is about more than simply points systems, it carries all the weight of the struggle between the FIA and FOTA that has been rumbling on since last year.

We have not heard the last from this saga, I'm sure.

The diffuser question is interesting, the technical regulations were re-published on March 18 with some revisions concerning the car's bodywork, but not knowing F1 technical-speak I can't tell what the rules now say. I am sure the answers will completely fail to become clear as the season progresses.


How could this possibly have been something that was planned, or something that the the FOTA had agreed to? If the FOTA had thought that it was a good idea and had wanted it, they would have submitted the idea to the FIA instead of their vastly superior 12-9-7 etc points system. No this was forced through by a bitter Bernie at the last moment!

For years it has been blatantly obvious that Bernie dictates to Max who dictates to us. We have had every kind of absurdity, grooved tyres and the like, forced on us NOT by knowledgeable and insightful planning, but by Berni waking up one morning upset once again over his damp bedsheets and taking his bad mood out on the rest of us!

The wins system is a stupid idea. Drivers and fans in their droves can see that! What is needed is more POINTS for winning, not negating the relevance of anything else BUT a win! Bernie was unable to stomach that his stupidity was WHOLLY unwanted on this occasion and tried once again to force his will through a last minuet back door temper tantrum...

Fortunately fans, drivers and the FOTA have at last said ENOUGH!!!

Mario el Diablo Fontana

You know what they say, all publicity is good publicity, and it least it gets people talking about F1. I personally find it all quite funny. It may have been a bit childish but you can't blame FOTA for taking their opportunity to get back at Bernie and the Spankmeister.


I think everyone is possibly underestimating Max Moseley, as they've done in the past. He's adopting a classic tactic here: Announce two unpopular policies at the same time, one of which is designed to fail thus allowing the second one to become established.

The FIA doesn't care if it's points or wins for the championship, it's the budget cap that's their real goal.


What worries me most about this is the diffuser issue. The FIA has had time to give clarification on it in the pre-season on the legality of it. They should have either said "this is legal, everyone can do it" or "this is illegal, change the design". Instead they have stayed quiet and now teams will be fussing over this into the season and it will become a distraction to the racing; especially if the cars in question are winning (which seems likely).

I'm glad the winner-takes-all system won't happen, but I'm sad that it was proposed in the first place. I now wonder how much "what would have been" analysis there will be during the season by pundits on if the winner-takes-all system had been passed. All in all, not good for fans imo.


I am a little confused. Have they kept the winner takes it all system, gone back to 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 or will they used what the FOTA's suggestion. From what have read, it is still winner takes it all, but the FOTA don't want it. I can't believe they can suddenly change the rules less than 10 days before a season. If they were going to (which I hope they don't), they would need to tell the teams at least a year in advance.


More fights in prospect - fantastic!!

I've been watching F1 for 2/3's of my life, (Since Belgium 1998) and I am just sick of the fights. I've seen archives of races in the past, and they were amazing, and unspoilt.

But now we're stuck with continually changing cars, ugly cars, idiots that run F1 and nothing of the F1 that i remember from 98,99,00,01 or 03, or even 05. Sure the last two seasons have been amazing on track, but off track:it's been a farce.

I can't wait to get to a stable formula that you can overtake, be fairly aggressive without being punished ridiculously, and without two old men at the helm.

Get rid of Bernie and Mosley, we don't want you any more!!


"I’ve seen archives of races in the past, and they were amazing, and unspoilt."

Politics doesn't translate well into archive footage. It was always there.

"But now we’re stuck with continually changing cars, ugly cars, idiots that run F1"



It has to be said Max Mosley comes out of this looking like a fool. He thought the teams had agreed to the new world championship system? Had he not asked them himself? Had he not read their own new points scheme proposal put forward only a few days earlier? His comments in the Daily Telegraph where he tries to defend himself only make things worse.

This mess is far more serious than spankgate.


i think its just ridiculous to suggest the objection to the winner takes all system was in any way related to a teams on track performance ... that supposition isn't supported by any of the evidence.

the diffuser row is nothing more than the usual first race clarification of new regulations...we have something like this every year. testing doesn't require legal cars, so its not until the first race that you can establish such legalities. Seeing as mosley has said he will disband the overtaking working group if they do not achieve the target reduction in downforce, its hard to see how he can allow an exploitation of the wording of the rules which would have such an impact on downforce levels.

Martin Hathaway

So what was pretty ridiculous now becomes a total farce ~ time for Max & Bernie to go ...

and we were all looking forward to some real racing in OZ!


JA writes: Some fantastic comments here, thanks and keep them coming. You can be sure that this material is read by people who matter in F1 - from the FIA and FOTA - and they take note of what is said. That's the wonder of the modern internet media. Instant audience research!

To Brad Pitt, if you are going to have a go at me, please do me the honour of reading what I've written, properly, first. I am saying that I do not agree with the theory that the teams went against the championship plan because of Brawn's speed.


Sadly, like a very great many other English-speaking F1 fans I find your stance on the battle between FOTA and the vast majority of dedicated F1 fans on the one side; and FIA/FOM ( ie 'The Dark Force' of Ecclestone/Mosley ) on the other, is, to be blunt, clearly very biased. And your writing is therefore diametrically at odds with any semblance balanced reportage. It's very clear you think Mosley is doing the right thing and FOTA are the 'spanner in the works' troublemakers!

Well, I have to tell you...don't agree with you..... we think it's long gone the time when Mosley and particularly Ecclestone's powers were broken. And if possible broken in the most spectacular and humiliating way. For both of them.

Ecclestone/Mosley have, in their day, done tremendously creative things for the greater good of F1 and no-one should ever forget that. Modern F1 is as it is mainly because of these two men's foresight and great skill and tireless efforts. But eventually 'power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely'.... and we are well into that malign stage now.


I was not a great fan of the proposed medal system, but winning races is key to any drivers chances of winning the WDC. If that is medals, 10 points or 12 points, wins are wins.

What is more of a mess in my book is the potential protests that will take place after Oz on the rear diffusers. To see great drives then killed by the FIA making late dessisions is very reminisant of Spa 08, and look at what a fiasco that turned into.

The FIA surely can't step in after Oz and start messing with results again. If this diffuser is "grey" is should have been sorted weeks ago. Especially as there is no means of testing new solutions during the season, other than in practice sessions.

Stand down Bernie and stand down Max, you have been good for this sport in the past but the future isn't looking good for you. Quit whilst ahead!!!!

Just one more point. I see Jean Todt has finaly said good bye to Ferrari, how long before an ex Ferrari man is in Mosley's shoes........ EEERRRRHHH


I think that what we are seeing over recent years is the result of the "lawmakers" at the top of the sport becoming stale.

We've had Max and Bernie for a long, long time now and it is time for some fresh blood. Someone/people who will do the following:

1) Take notice of the teams and what they think is right for the sport

2) Take the views of the fans and implement the sensible ones for the good of the sport

3) Stabilize the rules of the sport so they are not changing year in year out.

4) Implement a budget cap of £60million or so in exchange for greater technical freedom (total technical freedom within a loose framework of rules perhaps?)

5) Send out requests for teams to fill the grid up for 2011.

Stephen Kellett

An FIA spokesperson said: "We're slightly surprised that the teams have taken this long to come forward as we were under the impression that they were happy with the rule changes."

Talk about two faced. The above is disingenuous at best.

Taken so long!? What? They proposed their own completely different plan and objected at the FIA plan.

This is pathetic. They can't even be honest about when things don't go their own way. Talk about bringing their own organisation into disrepute.


A couple of suspicions i have:

1. MM is up to his usual tricks, he was fully aware that this revolt by FOTA would happen, he foresaw it and his plan is coming together, whatever it is?

2. Brawn f1 is just too good to be true, the car is just too quick, i smell a rat! I predict they will finish 6th and 7th next sunday, although i wholeheartedly hope im wrong and they finish 1-2.


"The FIA brought out some stunning material on Tuesday, particularly the £30 million budget cap, which would oblige the top teams to shed three quarters of it workforce, and would encourage a gold rush for new teams to come in to the sport."

i would be interested to hear why james thinks the top teams would sign up to the budget cap option? it seems to me the financial model of several teams would be wholey incompatable to such a thing. Lets remember that of a teams budget, marketing hospitality and sponsor events are included.

Have you visited MTC? im sure you have. I can't see any way that the likes of mclaren could possibly sign up to the budget cap even if they wanted to...not even by shedding 2/3rds of their workforce.


It is shocking... really. Here we have the WMSC - World Motorsport Council, 36 people who are the 'key' experts in the sport - at least 2 of them are lawers. If you were such a person, you would make it your responsibility to review all the news relating to your subject, review opinions etc, yet somehow they all missed a Major event - FOTA presenting their clear view on the medals system, then on the day of the vote you are prsented with that same proposal, it is rejected, but somehow you imagine that the teams want something else? Didn't any of them question Bernie on how he could be saying this? So the REALLY SCARY BIT IS, this same council decided on Mclarens fate.... on the rights and wrongs of stewards decisions etc... so how can anyone believe in them. I cannot understand why the press do not condem them more.

It is quite clear that any such body that behaves in such a way should not be entitled to impose fines of £100,000,000 on teams or adudicate never mind make rules.

All teams should pull out asap, if it means turninng up and going through farcial races to get things changed then do it... you have my blessing, anything is better than what is happening now!


Where there is F1 there is controversy, trouble is nowdays its off the track and not on it.


How convenient for Max to have the diffuser row to cover up his ridiculous bungling. If ever someone has "brought the sport into disrepute" it is Moseley and his Banana Republic FIA.

The teams are not blocking his 'winner takes all' so they can stand a chance against a strong Brawn debut, they are doing it because they are sick of being told what to do by two increasingly erratic old men who should have resigned years ago.


fia and bernie wants more points to the winner, fota wants the 12-9 points system, why not use it!?? it goes for the purpose everybody wants!


Max and Bernie need to go. This isnt about how many points or budget caps or anything else. Its power and ego. As long as these two are in place... expect more of the same.

I think now that they (Max/Bernie) have lost their golden child (Ferrari) to the union of FOTA...they are both scratching their arrogant, greedy heads.


If James is right and some important people do read this blog then let's all petition for a major change to f1; something that'll generate a wider fan base, increase revenue from sponsorship and ultimately ensure the sustainability of the sport itelf. hhmmmm...... think responsibly...... that's it....

......more shots of the pit girls before the race!

My work here is done.


I suppose all this with diffusers, points systems and budgets keeps F1 in the news...but it would make a change if the FIA actually listened to the fans which is what I like about FOTA.

Will you be at all the races James and reporting back? Great blog by the way. Well done.


Max and Bernie need to go. They have a combined age of 166 and boy are they showing it. I think it's time to hand over the FIA and F1 reigns to different people with fresh, sensible ideas on how to take the sport forward.


Just curious as to why you don't publish every comment ... [ A few have been edited and no more than a handful deleted altogether. A quick look at the rules should hopefully explain why. - Moderator ]


Whilst I would love to see Max gone - FOTA would never be able to run the series - let's see of "agreeable" they are to eadch other after the first protest of the season...

They've tried this before - grouping together - it never lasts long..l.l


GPWC anyone - where are they these days??

lower-case david

james must be right, y'know, about who reads this blog ... i quit in disgust over the shady backroom introduction of a crazy points-system, and 24hours later it is all cancelled ... well, deferred ... (note: must use this power only for good).

who'd have thought, an authoritarian, bureaucratic administration gets caught out by it's own rulebook. there's surely got to be a gag about "getting hoisted by your own petard" and rented chelsea basement flats in there somehwere, c'mon think dammit.

the "dog ate my homework", the he-said-she-said excuses offered up, embarrassing ... and so:
as a few others have already said, you can't help feeling that we're being made a monkey off again, that this whole noisy medals-pantomime was just that, deliberately floated, and sacrificed, just to provide headline cover for the real-deal, the toxic "optional" budget-cap. a set of rules that would fundamentally kill-off what we have all known as F1, to see it replaced by a sub-pinnacle, knock-off, spec series.

we would see two sets of cars running to two different rulebooks, on the same track, and one of whom's performance is modulated up and down at the whim of the FIA.
whenever the supposed independent arbiter takes such a direct interventionary role in the running, then it's all over. the referee can not and should not be a player too.
if the capped teams are getting beat, is it because they are not good enough, too lazy, not smart enough, how are we supposed to tell; later if they start winning is it because they are worthy or have just been allowed to run special floors, folding wings and bigger KERS?

and so ... talking of two sets of cars running to different rulebooks:
here we all are again, we can't even get to race one, '09, without knowing what cars are illegal, who will be allowed to race, if the result will be overturned in paris a month after we all go home, and who will have to redesign their entire aero package without any testing. messy and unnecessary.
(how much would it have cost to send the FIA truck and some race scrutineers to a group test-session for the teams to volunteer their cars for a mock conformity check, and for a definitive ruling made whilst there was time to adjust. we've all seen how pointless getting a nod from charlie whiting is)

it's all too transparent, we grow tired of these ploys and shenanigans.
to deliberately let the diffuser ambiguity fester over a month of pre-season testing, for it to be employed it in the same'ol unimaginative divide and conquer.

the initial responses by FOTA to all of these issues were timid, poorly co-ordinated and insubstantial, some think it showed weakness ... personally i think they were just caught off-guard, sucker-punched. they had genuinely believed all the cheap-talk off a new start in tough times, everyone working together for the good of the sport and the fans.
... but now their eyes are wide-open, they know what's what and that they are in a proper old-fashioned fight, their more recent statements show a lot more bottle.
Mosley is weaker than he or his cohorts like to believe, his playbook and politicking is tired and predictable.
are the teams gonna buckle and split, or can they gather themselves, play it smarter and stick together through the middle-game, if so, F1 is their's for the taking.

don't just sit there, put some beef into it Luca, go on son, get stuck in.


So has the FIA officially reverted to points? I hope this is still up in the air and FOTA realise that it's not worth the legal stuffing around to have winner-takes-all repealed.

If the FIA is reading this, please take into consideration some of us who aren't speaking up are very happy with winner-takes-all.


About the new scoring system not being approved by the teams,JA forgot to mention the press release by Whitmarsh and Haug saying that McLaren will definitely be unable to fight for the win in Melbourne,with Haug even doubtful on a points finish!
Is this the reason why McLaren are opposing the new rules?Are they afraid of the Brawn cars?
Or are they bluffing about the competitivity of their car?
Would like some comments on this.


So have FOTA or at least two teams yet gone to the FIA and officially said they do not agree with wins?

Until they do so officially then the "wins" rule stands. Read the FIA statement, which is waiting to hear back from teams if they disagree.


It's all a lot of hogwash to gain free publicity for F1, lets just wait a few more days, and all will be revealed, when the smoke and mirrors vanish,and lets hope Maxie & Bernie
vanish in the near future too. Neither are any longer F F P
(fit for purpose)


The FIA's u-turn is ridiculous. Not only does it make them seem wishy-washy, but it also delays the implementation of a brilliant idea. Drivers should not be rewarded for finishing 8th, or 5th.

No risk hamilton is opposed to the winner takes all rule. What a surprise! Since he is a specialist in finishing 3rd, he knows he has no chance of winning under these rules. The FIA should do another 180 degree turn and reinstate the winner takes all rule for 2009.


You briefly mentioned the controversy over the rear diffusers of Brawn, Toyota and Williams. I'd be very interested to hear your take on this James, I'm sure many other readers would too. I've seen very little in the way of analysis of exactly what the other teams think is wrong with these diffusers, or why Brawn, Toyota and Williams (and, apparently, the FIA) believe they're legal.


with the FIA's wish for greater transparency (!) i wonder if we'll see minutes of the meeting of the WMSC who decided to unanimously vote against FOTA's new points proposal but then accept the wins vs points system.

something tells me they'll read very similar to "bernie says".


There's been plenty of off-track controversy even in the '70s and I'm sure there was plenty before that.


It's happened before. Remember Ferrari's flexible floor? They did get to keep their points, but the rules were changed after the season started, which threw them.

The FIA have the means to rule on the Diffusers now, don't they? If they are illegal, then bloody well say they are illegal now and let everybody enjoy the race without all this uncertainty.

The FIA are a joke and are bringing the sport into disrepute.


This notion put about by Bernie that a winner takes all medal system is synonymous with the Olympics, the supposed pinnacle of sporting achievement, and therefore should be taken up by F1 is absolute nonsense. It's like comparing apples and oranges. The medal system might be OK for one-off events but not a multi-event, season long competition.

The true lie to this is shown where even the Olympics doesn't use a 'most-wins' system in it's multi-event sports. The Decathalon and Pentathalon use open-ended points gained across multiple disciplines to produce a POINTS TABLE and the top three are then awarded medals, irrespective of how many individual events an athlete was able to 'win'. Hockey, football/soccer, volleyball etc use a POINTS TABLE in the preliminary rounds, based on the total of wins draws and losses, to determine which teams go through to the major rounds and the eventual winners of the various finals are awarded medals denoting their finishing position. Diving and gymnastics award POINTS for each attempt to produce a POINTS TABLE and the winners are awarded medals according to their finishing position. In swimming and running, competitors must finish at the front of the field to advance to the next stage and medals are awarded according to the finishing positons in the final event ONLY, quite irrespsctive of how many heat wins they achieved.

Need I go on? Apart from single-attempt events, in the Olympics I can find no case where the winner is determined by how many individual 'wins' they had in their discipline. For Bernie to claim that the Olympics are a winner-takes-all event is just absolute rubbish. Perhaps someone who has the opportunity to attend press conferences, like yourself James, could put this to Bernie to get his reaction and ask how it squares with his earlier statements.

Let's face it, as history has shown, the FIA/Max/Bernie will say and do absolutely anything in order to advance their own agenda, and it seems increasingly to be THEIR agenda - if it's beneficial to F1 and the fans who pay their money to watch is purely incidental. They will argue black is white one day and then that white is red the next if it serves their purpose and advances their own position. Logic and reason have no place, as has been shown again by Max's claims on the teams supposed change of heart regarding the 'medal system'. They desperately need to be closely scrutinised and challenged publicly - I don't know why this isn't the case already. The sooner they get out the better for everyone who loves F1.


Exactamundo. McLaren would gain from the alternative rules.


IMO, winner takes all would help McLaren in that case!

if they would have bad car from start and then make it fastest come the 2nd half of season they could still get enough wins to secure WDC. While with points they might drift too far away...

I think that McLaren is opposing the new rules because all other teams do, and not because they would benefit from it, it's unity time at teams camp.


Nobody except the teams and Bernie have access to the latest concord agreement (or the memorandum of understanding they are currently operating under) as they are kept confidential. One of the 90's agreements leaked out I believe and is available in certain places.


Brad Pitt's a busy man James. He's got several hundred children to look after, of course he's not going to have time to read your articles.

Ever yours



And most probably we will have a Diffusergate in the coming weeks as big teams are ready to protest the dıffusers of Williams, Toyota and Brawn 🙂

Darryl Williams

I believe what has happened is that this episode has provided the general F1-watching public a focal point to once again emphasize what [ moderated ] are running FOM and FIA, through feedback on this issue. I suppose that the [ moderated ] running FIA has realized that, oh, yes, people do have memories after all, and this event offers an opportunity for us to make it perfectly clear to that [ moderated ] that he is popular and has credibility only with those he pays to support him.

I eagerly await the NEW championship organized by FOTA. Enough is enough!



But then we have Spa last year, as in great races spoilt by unnecessary outcomes through stupid decisions...



"They cannot seriously have considered that their proposed system had the full support of the teams when the teams had recently put forward their own and completely different solution"

Exactly! Mad Max Returns, someone needs to crack the whip here (excuse the pun)

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