F1 Winter Break
F1 teams in race against time
F1 teams in race against time
Posted By:   |  07 May 2009   |  4:35 am GMT  |  37 comments

The FOTA teams met yesterday in London to discuss developments in the 2010 rules and to co-ordinate a response to the FIA’s introduction of a £40 million budget cap for next season.

The statement, as usual, was fairly bland and uninformative, but did hint at the seriousness of the situation, as it sees it,

“FOTA held a positive and constructive meeting and agreed to continue working together in a methodical manner for the definition of further cost-reduction in 2010 and 2011, progressing along the path begun in 2008. FOTA has concerns with the decisions taken at the last WMSC meeting regarding the 2010 regulations and therefore asks to begin urgent consultations with the FIA.”

The statement was issued yesterday evening and made no reference to the death of FIA president Max Mosley’s 39 year old son Alexander, announced earlier in the day. Mosley has cancelled a planned visit to Spain this weekend for the Grand Prix, where he was due to hold a press conference. His son’s death is bound to dominate his thoughts and his agenda for a period of time.

The teams have been given a one week window later this month in which they have to enter the 2010 championship. So it is a matter of urgency for them to decide on a co-ordinated negotiating position and see if they can get the FIA around the table to smooth out the plans for 2010 to make them work for more of the teams. Mosley said on Friday however, in an interview I did with him for the Financial Times,

“We may have a very damaging conflict, it’s possible, but we are prepared for that. We’d tough it out. We’ve got very little room to negotiate.”

Basically the teams are all agreed that you cannot have two tier F1, with some cars running budget capped and others running outside it with fewer technical freedoms. But beyond that there is a split, with half the teams, the independents, in favour of a budget cap at around £40 million and the other half with a range of objections.

The rules for 2010 also include the winner takes all points system, which had been voted through for this season, but the teams objected that their unanimous vote was needed to bring it through at such short notice and the FIA backed down, declaring that it would be deferred to 2010.

It is now enshrined in the rules as follows, “The Formula One World Championship Driver’s Title will be awarded to the driver who has been classified first in the greatest number of races, all official results from the Championship season being taken into account.

“Points will be awarded to all drivers in accordance with Article 6.4 below and, in the event that two or more drivers win an equal number of races, the driver with the greatest number of points will be awarded the Driver’s title.”

There is no mention of medals being awarded, but in all other respects it is the same as the plan put forward by Bernie Ecclestone late last year.

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James, sorry to post off subject but the in your banner for the this coming Grand Prix you have incorrectly stated that it's the Catalanya Grand Prix. In fact, it's the Spanish Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya. Spain does have another grand prix but that's named the European GP.

Sorry for the pedanticism...


I hope they have a plan for what happens when half points (currently) are awarded if they are going to persevere with that new classification scheme. Half a win?

Peter Freeman

The winner-takes-all is the most damaging part of the entire debate. It makes team orders a mandatory part of F1 for any team actually planing on winning the world championship. It relegates drivers into being "No1" or "No2" 'category' drivers and gives rise to a two tier driver sport. Now there is place for drivers because they AREN'T the best...

The FIA have made it official: There is only place for 10 good drivers in F1. This is a shocking day for the sport!

I can't help but think that this is about a political power struggle and that consideration for F1 as a sport has been of no importance in making this decision. All the teams, the drivers, the fans, the journalists, everyone does not want a winner-takes-all system, but the FOM does. So racing be damned, the fans be damned, FOM gets to force this on us just to show that they can...

Alistair Blevins

James, is there any similarities between what's going on now and what happened between FISA and FOCA in the early 1980's?


James, do you think it is possible or probable that we will have teams forming a break away championship as a result of this budget cap situation?


Hi James,

Thanks for the great info as always. I keep hearing rumours of Ferrari going back to Le Mans in the top flight LMP1. Do you think this is mere speculation or do you think with the budget caps Ferrari are looking for other areas to utilise their resources, I could imagine a mass layoff of Ferrari staff not going down too well in Italy.

Ps have you seen who is dropping the Start flag for this years Le Mans! None other than Luca De Montezemolo!

I wonder if they will get Schumacher to run the team?


The teams should simply all refuse to submit their entry forms for 2010. The May deadline is needlessly arbitrary. They can then begin negotiations with a stronger hand, and more time to play with. Surely they can all agree on that first step.


are the F1 teams so bloody dumb about the fact that current levels of spending are unsustainable, they seem quite happy to spend themselves into oblivion.

re. the winner takes all system, im glad that points will still be awarded to other drivers, as under bernies original idea - say a driver finishes 7th one race but DNF's the other 16, but another driver finishes 8th 15 times, the first (7th place) guy would have been classified higher in the championship which is just wrong.
didn't this new scheme of most wins decides title happen in the 80's under the best 11 results rule?


This could be the begining of the end for Max.These guy's aren't stupid they no they can't run a F1 team at these price's,so they have to stick together . The larger teams have all voiced their concern at the rule change's and uncertainty in the way the sport is governed.With commercial arrangements binding them all together what's to stop them all not signing up.If this was to happen Max would be sunk in the water.Remember none of these new team's have signed up yet, they to must realize to preform you must have money who wants to be back of the field . Just making up the numbers isn't exactly a major incentive for people to join, sponsor's aren't overly keen on it either.
Max did say they would be back of the field.
Safety in numbers.


If the winner-take-all rule was in place now, the champoinship would be well on the way to being sown up already, and most likely would be by late June or early July at the latest. The FIA must realize this, yet they they go ahead and put the silly rule on the books for next year. Am I missing something...........................???


considering the wonderful last race drama's of the previous couple seasons it seems ridiculous that they're still pushing ahead with the winner-takes-all nonsense. it's gonna punish good, consistent drivers who maybe suffer occasional bad luck. don't like it.


I think FIA is trying to put more than one topic for on table and make it difficult for the teams to be united on all topics. Most of the teams don't like the idea of two tier system but small teams are in favor of budget cup. So it will be interesting to see what will be the final decision, also there is very a short period of time left as James mentioned..


It was Max's comment tthat Ferrari could ignore the budget cap, because none of the capped teams would then beat them which, to me, completely undermined the FIA's case.
If they felt £40m was enough to run a top F1 team, given fewer restrictions, then surely a non-capped team wouldn't be assured of a place at the front.
Why are so few people pointing out this logical flaw?

Would FOTA be well served if Ferrari and, say, BMW commmited to avoid the cap? That way the FIA won't get what it wants and the cap's credibility would be shot.


BTW James, off on the biggest tangent ever! I want to go to a local (to me in SE UK) race. I've been to Hungary and that appealed a lot, it's not the best race to watch on TV, but was great to be at. Access to the circuit was easy by cab, good weather, grilled meat and beer, everything a man could want. I'm thinking of Valencia this year, but am open to other suggestions. Which race do you think is a good choice for us ordinary public to attend. I never want to experience access to a circuit like I did at Silverstone, or weather like I did in Spa! You've been around them once or twice, your opinion would (actually, pretty much as ever) be valued...



Only the political aspect, Kenny, which I suspect you haven't missed at all. This really is the moment the teams have to find a way to stand together, otherwise they will be hanged separately. There is PLENTY of money to run F1, but half of it goes to pay a load of bankers for a leveraged buyout/sellout. And then the people responsable go on about how they want to improve the sport. It's now or never. If they can't see what's at stake, they only have themselves to blame for what happens afterwards (sorry to come over all apocalyptic).


F1 is in real danger of suffocating itself in a patchwork blanket of political chaos, cruddy old men, and dull racing.

The long running triumvirate of the FIA, Bernie and the teams has had its day. Bernie is getting old but still trying to run things like a 1960s mogul. Max/the FIA are terribly mired and distrusted. The teams look weak because they have threatened to break away but never have.

FOTA should get the teams to withdraw on mass and set up a new series away from Bernie and the FIA. A clean break would give the sport a fresh start and reignite the interest of fans. I hope the teams act now not only to save themselves, but the sport as well.

F1 is dying. Long live a new F1 sans the FIA and Bernie.

brown eyed girl

Oh dear, I'd this what happens when silly little men have too much money and time on there hands.

Re the budget cap I'm still out. I see the pros, I see the cons and as I said on another post I think they are missing abig trick in being at the forfront of investing in green technology for the auto industry as a whole - that can't be done if budgets limited and I fear it may stiffle inovation.

My problem comes with the winner takes all idea, the fact that bernie proposed it las year after he didn't like the way lewis won the championship. Sometimes I wish that man would be satified wiyh having the commericial rights for the next 100years and leave it at that. So far I've diss agreed with other decissions he has pushed through eg trying to force the australian and similarly timed grand prixs to move to the evening so he can get more money for showing them at prime time in europe. Meanwhile european tracks are getting squeezed out in favour of rich east asian tracks.

I know I sound like I'm always bernie bashing but he does make some stupid calls that go against what f1 is. Plus I feel she showed his colours wth the max mosley notw story last year one minute he is calling for his resignation (when everyone else was and there was a good chance he could loose the vote of confidence) then when its clear max isn't going anywhere he's not so out raged and palling up to him again. I just see it as him trying to cosy up to who is in power

Anyway why I think its a rubbish idea is because last year was brilliant, with a few races to go there were 4 drivers in with a chance even kubica could have won it due to solid performance and reliability. Everyone still wants to win in the current system as you get a significant points advantage but yes its true they may not do something stupid like the drivers at the end of the australian gp . I like the idea that kubica could have taken the title but in this new system that wouldn't happen - it would be dull dull dull..'Oh look race 8 and they have won again, well that's the season decided then'. Much better when its points total at the end. That way if your car is as much of a pig as the ferrari has been at the start of this season you can still develope it and have a chance of being at the top by the end.

I'm sorry but if bernie has got sour grapes cause he wanted massa to win last year and he didn't he should get over it asap. That's how f1 works. Some of the best years have been when it gets stolen at the last minute. Its life, it sucks sometimes but its brilliant to watch.

If he doesn't like it he can naff off with ron denis to another style of racing and dictate to them how he wants it to turn out in the end.

.... And breathe ... sorry rant over 🙂


There is plenty of money available to run the 10 F1 teams, but it is sitting in The Troll's pockets. He's constantly blathering on about how the TEAMS have to cut costs, but what about HIM cutting costs for the tracks? Stop demanding exorbitant ransoms from local governments to prop up the race promoters who can't possibly make any money with the current financing schemes (i.e. you take everything except gate receipts and on-circuit advertising). If you weren't so greedy Bernie, maybe Silverstone could actually afford to make all the improvements you are demanding!!!


In my previous post, I forgot to rant about the ridiculous winner-takes-all system being forced on everyone next year. If it was such a great idea, why was it snuck into the rules at 4am and then not highlighted in the announcement? This mind-fart means that most of the teams will not have any chance at all of winning the WDC, so will just be making up the numbers for the 2 or 3 teams that actually have a chance. THAT is supposed to improve the racing??? AND, wasn't it Bernie who said the best part of F1 is the strategy? That mostly goes out the window when a team has no incentive to try to get 2nd place instead of 3rd or even 5th instead of 6th when they know they don't have a winning car for any particular race? And what about storming runs from the back of the grid? That will NEVER happen again because there is almost ZERO chance of winning from back there.

Please FOTA, tell Bernie where to stick this stupidity. 99% of the fans (you know Bernie, the little people who actually put all that money in your pockets) DON'T want this remarkably DUMB scheme!!!

IF we are forced to live with the winner-takes-all nutbar idea in 2010, we MUST have a specific team of stewards who go from race to race and actually know the rules, and Race Control MUST be the final authority. What is the point of trying to get first place when the driver knows it will be taken away from them because the stewards have their orders to help another driver win the WDC? We all know Massa was the favoured one in 2008 -- how else to explain Spain where he should have been penalized for the dangerous move in the pitlane; Spa where he was blatantly GIVEN the win, and Japan where he should have been penalized, not Bourdais? Could someone please explain what Bourdais should have done in Japan to not be penalized when it was CLEARLY Massa who caused the contact???

And PLEASE, stop changing the rules every 5 minutes -- THAT costs more money than anything else. When the rules are stable, the racing is closer and more interesting.

Please, please, please FOTA, stand up to the idiots who are ruining the sport we all love!


As I've said before... Ferrari, BMW, McLaren, Williams and all other top teams break away from Bernie and the rest of the accountants... get rid of silly expensive toys like KER's... and go racing... and the the fastest car win!!!

F1 is been strangled by profit obsessed Bernie and his accountants!


There is a old saying,"Power corrupts absolute power corrupts absolutely".
They control everything and there is no transparency in there decision making,any thing they decide to do is rubber stamped into law .The teams were moving to cutting budget's at a pace they all agreed to and were happy with.Don't care it's our my or the highway.
Teams and the public gave well thoughtout reason's as to why the points system shouldn't change.Don't care it's my way or the highway.
This bugger you all attitude has to stop it is destroying the sport.

Peter Freeman

There is a myth going round that I would like to dispel:

Massa would NOT have won the 2008 championship under the winner-takes-all rules, if they were in place last year.

Why you say?

Well look at the early par of the season. Raikkonen won in Malaysia and Ferrari had a 1-2 in Bahrain. Do you really think Ferrari would have decided to back Massa over Raikkonen in Bahrain as their No1 driver to win the championship, or do you think Massa would have been made to give way to 2007 reigning world champion Kimmi? No they would not have backed Massa, he would have been made to give way to Kimmi, so Raikkonen would have had 2 wins after Bahrain with none to Massa.

Then Kimmi won in Spain, so that would have made 3 wins for him. In Turkey Massa won and Hamilton came second, so Ferrari would have been happy enough to leave Massa with that win. But then In France it was a Ferrari 1-2 again, so Massa would once more have had to make way for Raikkonen, making it 4-1 to Raikkonen.

Massa then won Europe and Belgium, which would have made it 3 to Hamilton's at that stage, 4.

Then on to the final two races... Hamilton 5, Massa 4, Raikkonen 4.

Unless of course Ferrari had abandoned Kimmi from the very start and concentrated on Massa with full team orders in place. Now with Kimmi having won the championship in 2007, why would Ferrari have done that?


lol, sounded good at the time 😉


Er, actually, there is, 'tis in the Oxford Dictionary:
"Pedanticism; a piece of pedantry". You can also have Pedantism, which is more or less the same thing.


A win is a win, it would still be a win.



If you want a pedal to the metal, balls to the wall, win or die trying style of motor racing, try the NHRA. It's great.


A lot of Mercedes financial trouble is because of the cost of the demerger from Chrysler. They should never have merged with Chrysler in the first place (*), but having done so, seen it failed then de-merged, that has cost them a lot of cash.

* Why merge a top notch brand with a second rate one?


Kenny: from 1950-2008, the average season would have been sewn up 0.3 races earlier under the new wins rule. Two seasons would have been settled a full 3 races earlier: Damon Hill in 1996 would have won the championship after 13 races (in reality it went down to the wire); and in 2004 the dominant Schumacher would have wrapped up the title after only 11 races instead of the 14 it actually took him. There were 18 races that year so it would have been the earliest conclustion to a season with only 61% of the season gone. 3 championships would have actually been prolonged by the wins rule, including Alonso's in 2005 which would have gone down to the final race, whereas in reality he won it with 2 races to go. 12 of those 59 seasons would have had a different winner under the wins rule.

Of course this all assumes that the mere presence of the wins rule wouldn't have changed the results of the race, which is an arguable point. As LameDuck mentioned, it may affect driver motivation; on the other hand, all competetive teams would be equally motivated to aim for the win so the effects might even out.


I don't think members of the FIA watch F1 races.
They probably aren't aware of anything.


Yes, you're forgetting Shumacher winning the championship in Hungary a few years ago! The winnder takes all system means that drivers no longer settle for second place and race to win, every time. As a fan and watcher of the sport, it makes perfect sense to me. Points for other places, constructors championship and division of revenue, but not for the drivers chanpionship. The title would be nowhere near sown up at this point. If one of the usual big teams caught up and won every race, then they would still achieve that at past the half way point in the season.

I think the budget cap is a good idea, although I think the huge draconian drop is a little too harsh on the big budget teams and I understand why they are complaining. But it really has to change, I struggle to see BMW, Toyota, Renault and (with recent news, especially) Mercedes still being able to justify the costs in 12 months time and let's face it, the market world economies will be starting recovery by then, but it'll still be a long way off. Maybe the big budget teams should be given first refusal on the vacant grid slots and use the excess cash to start a second team. In the coming world of customer cars, it would make a lot of sense to have 4 identical cars accumulating data during the very limited testing...

I personally don't like Ferrari for a whole bunch of reasons, but I want to see them stay in the sport, I'd like to see them being beaten by everyonoe else, but the sport would lose something if they pulled out 🙁


I don't know - it is easy for the team managers to complain - but they are not the ones who put their hands into their pockets to find the cash for racing.

Over the past few years, the directors sitting on the boards in control of the manufactures and sponsors have been told that the opposition spends £200+ million per year on F1, and so must they to be competitive.

However now if you suggest that you can do it instead for £40 million, with no loss of competitiveness - what sort of management board is not going to go for that? Especially at a time when the automotive industry is collapsing.

Maybe Ferrari and BMW want to still spend unlimited amounts of cash – but what of Renault and Toyota?

Alistair Blevins

Having done some more reading about the FISA-FOCA war it's amazing to see that so little has changed in the last 30 years.

Bernie and Max were in the thick of it then (although on the other side of the fence, as team owner and lawyer), and there was much, particularly in 1982, argument about the legality of cars exploiting loopholes in the rule book.

Sound familiar?

Good starting point as ever is Wikipedia:


Peter Freeman

Yes James there are commercial agreements, but if they break away they will ALL have SUBSTANTIALLY more money than any of them could possibly HOPE to get now!


There's no such word as pedanticism... try "pedantry" 🙂


That's 'pedantry'.


Well it's a power struggle, so on that level yes, but the circumstances are different and the F1 world championship and the commercial rights are not up for grabs now. It's about the teams getting the best deal they can for themselves and trying to have some say in the way the rules are made and enforced.


Don't know yet, only just arrived in Barcelona and have to go out and test the temperature in the paddock. I think the fact that the situation suits half the field makes talk of breakaways unlikely. There are commercial agreements in place with FOM too.

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