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Posted By:   |  31 May 2009   |  10:08 pm GMT  |  59 comments

I’ve been fascinated by the coverage of the FOTA teams’ entry for next year’s world championship in the last couple of days.

On Friday morning I was saying that something was going to come out of FOTA which was quite different from the convergence position with the FIA that was being widely reported. And so it proved. Then when the FOTA statement was made most commentators seemed to see it as Ferrari and the other eight teams signing up after all, which it was some way from being.

Ferrari obviously felt quite frustrated with this and so they issued one of those self-generated Q & A documents, with team principal Stefano Domenicali. The intention here was to SPELL IT OUT for those who hadn’t quite grasped the point of what FOTA is saying.

I won’t go over it again, because I’ve written enough about it already, but two things need to be taken away from Stefano’s comments.

First that all nine teams are willing to sign up to race in F1 until the end of 2012 (if their conditions are met). The importance of this point is that the teams are saying that the sport need not fear that it will lose any existing teams, they are making it clear they aren’t going anywhere. The fear of losing teams was one of the main drivers for the budget cap idea.

Second, whereas before Monaco weekend, it was only Ferrari, Toyota, Red Bull and Renault saying that they would quit F1 if the 2010 rules were not changed, now all nine FOTA teams are saying that, which is a much stronger proposition, as Domenicali spells out below.

“It’s very simple. The nine teams – Williams membership having been suspended – that currently make up FOTA, have put in entries for the 2010 championship that will only be valid if the Concorde Agreement is signed and if the regulations will be those currently in use, but modified as per FOTA’s suggestions. The action taken yesterday is completely in keeping with Ferrari’s principles, as stated at the Main Board meeting on 12 May and with those of FOTA.

Q. What will happen if these conditions are not met?

SD: Once again, the answer is simple: the entries from the nine teams will be invalid.”

This has moved the story on quite a bit from the Monaco weekend and is completely against the grain of what was being reported in the days following Monaco.

The FIA believes that Ferrari has a contract to race in F1 and that this was proven in the Paris court case Ferrari brought, seeking an injunction, before Monaco. If the FIA decides to play hardball and reject FOTA’s conditions, it may be that Ferrari, Williams and the new teams are the only names on the entry list which will be published on June 12th.

Meanwhile I note that Alex Wurz has tabled an entry with his Austrian chums from Superfund. Without a sniff of a new team on the horizon for years we now have five putting in entries, which means paying a £2.5 million engine deposit. Some of them have been planning this moment for years, waiting for the right circumstances, others are seizing an opportunity.

Fascinating times..

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1

Most people say FOTA has lobbed the ball in Max’s or the FIA’s court, but I think it’s rather up to Mr Ecclestone now to get everyone to act reasonably. Basically, what FOTA are doing is telling Bernie: ‘Look, if you want your precious and profitable little racing series to remain just that instead of becoming just another single-seater formula and seeing all the sponsors leave and the value of F1 drop big time, then you’d better be prepared to (via a new Concorde Agreement) a) pay us more, b) give us more influence over the rules and more stability, c) get rid of Max, and d) see to it that Max lets us race the new teams next year, preferably under conditions agreed by FOTA among ourselves’. Bernie (or make that CVC) is the one who stands to lose most if Max pushes through his vision and effectively destroys the legend that is F1.

Max, I’m sure, is prepared to proceed to kill the patient if that’s what’s necessary to get rid of the ailment. And Ferrari and a handful of other teams are probably prepared to leave F1 for the time being, albeit with a lot of huffing and puffing, but even Max should fear CVC’s lawyers sueing him for needlessly and carelessly devalueing their product.

CVC should be massively interested in getting this sorted quickly, before they they find themselves and the FIA in front of an EU court, sued by a consortium of F1 teams (excluding Ferrari, of course) for agreeing unsporting deals favouring Ferrari, just as an example.

2

James, do you have any information about the veracity (or otherwise) of the rumours about March’s entry? I haven’t seen anything on the official F1 web site or any comment from the FIA about March. Everyone seems to be taking it as read that they (a) exist and (b) have made an entry – but as far as I can tell it’s all just repetitions of a story that appeared on one particular F1 web site, a web site that I don’t generally regard as a particularly reliable source. Does the March F1 team really exist?

3

Geez, so now March wants back in??? Think Max is lining up these teams to fill in for the teams that will be leaving??

8 teams out (Ferrari in due to contract)….

8 teams in….

Prodrive
Lola
Team Superfund
Team US F1
Litespeed
Epsilon Euskadi
Campos Meta1
March

Don’t do it Mad Max!!

4

James

have FOTA responded to the claim that a conditional entry is invalid?

Cheers

Phil

5

In Poker terms, both sides hove now gone “All in” …either [Mosley] gets to run a joke of a series in 2010 with a reluctant Ferrari, Williams and some irrelevant newbies, while the real F1 teams run GP1….or he backs down, lets in all the FOTA teams and retires to his dungeon. No matter how thick his hide, Moseley cannot survive this scenario with one nanogram of professional integrity and I cannot see Bernie, the Sponsors & the TV companies allowing a joke series to run in 2010.

Sometimes, beyond all the slanted twisted lies from the FIA, you really can see the reality. Now Max has walked a plank of his own making, the Sharks are circling and someone has hidden all the lifebelts. Oh dear, bye bye Max.

6

ah, yet another f1 storm in a teacup…

to be honest, i don’t think the main issue facing f1 at the mo’ is the current max / bernie vs mostly-everyone-else saga, it’s the realization that if your car isn’t winning after the first half dozen races, it makes a great deal of sense to basically give up and throw all your efforts into next years model. it that what we want?

significant in-season testing HAS to return, together with rules which facilitate car development during the racing season, or else we may just as well watch the pre-season testing and award the championship on that basis.

were i any one of the grossly under-performing teams i’d have written off 2009 and be beavering away on my 2010 model – assuming that i could tell which regulations will apply…

7

If the FIA cares about the sport, the members and the viewers they will take on the teams conditions and proceed with the championship as the nine teams have asked for.
At the moment only 1 team in the current season has entered f1, which is supported by a manufacture. Of all these new teams, what guarantee is there they will be in the sport for 3 or more seasons. What engines will they run. Are we going to have a championship called f1 cosworth series. Are any of these teams even equipped to compete in f1. We know what all the existing teams have, and they are all well established and supported. They are offering a guarantee of racing for the next 3 years in addition to cost cutting agreements they can manage and enforce. This is not only supported by manufactures teams but private teams.
If max doesn’t agree I hope all the teams start another championship. It will be to the benefit of everybody except the FIA, Bernie and the owners. They know the importance of the existing teams staying in f1 and they have already established a relationship with the viewing public, sponsors, media etc etc. If they leave, the damage to f1 in the first year will be so enormous I would bet there would be legal grounds for the owners of f1, to sue Bernie and the FIA, in addition to every track, media outlet etc etc suing Bernie for breach of contract. A new series can start, without the FIA, the teams own the new series, they keep all the revenues, all the tracks will sign up at reasonable prices, allowing track prices to be reasonable for the fans. I bet a rival championship with the current 10 teams (assuming Williams follows) Would be worth in excess of 1billion in the first year. Management costs would be 10%, that would leave 900million to be divided amongst the competing teams. Sponsors will follow the teams not the name f1. F1 is worthless if the manufactures and established teams aren’t competing within it. I watch f1 for Ferrari, McLaren, Alonso, Lewis not for the name f1. That is what the FIA is forgetting.

8

there has been a concorde agreement fr many many years, and never was it the case that teams were automatically entered for the following years championship without applying…williams even missed the deadline once and had to beg to be allowed back in…they were fully signed up to the concorde agreement too.
and if the fia says that ferrari have a contract, then it works both ways…ferrari would be within their rights to say we sign up, but to the 2009 regs, as we do not agree with the new ones. cant have your cake and eat it

9

Could it not be that Ferrari are actually working with the FIA, steering all the other teams to walk away from F1, start there own championship away from F1.

Then Ferrari would turn around and say that they are bound by contract to race in F1, and then be left with a field of new teams plus Williams and Renault to race against.

Which would then put Ferrari back at the top, and winners again lol..

10

I think the Pitpass concerns may be prevalent here – for a legally binding contract to exist, there must be consensus ad idem, or, a meeting of minds.

You cannot enter a contract adding on conditions – that is a counter-offer rather than and acceptance and it appears to me that no contract exists at the moment.

If the teams believe that they have entered into a contract, they have to be sure what that contract is – the contract is the actual agreement that they have entered into and not the agreement they THINK they have formed.

11

If it be the case that all the manufacturers pull out, who will be supplying the engines to these new teams who wish to enter the sport?

Cosworth’s name has been mentioned as a supplier, but might there be a grid entirely of Cosworth engined cars?

12

So at the end of the day history will repeat itself and a compromise will be reached bringing the budget down – and on a pretty steep curve. In the current financial circumstances even F1 fanatics have to query the lunatic spending that has gone on hitherto.

Neither side (unfortunate that it has to be phrased in that way) has a viable alternative. With the heart of Formula 1 ripped out of the spectacle it would be unsaleable to the masses – but by the same token the ‘nine’ have not nearly enough time to arrange an alternative series – and the thought of two of them competing of is not pleasant

13

I am totally with FOTA in this issue. If they quit F1, i believe a rival series will be set up as racing in the pinnacle of motorsports is big business and will always be big business.

A breakaway series will be successfull. This cannot be compared with the Indycar split because F1 has a global appeal and it is the pinnacle of motorsport.

Thus, if FOTA makes a breakaway series, for sure it will be their series that will be the pinnacle of motorsports. Their fans will follow them. There are many television channels that will be willing to broadcast them. Logically, TV advertisers will advertise in the premier racing series, and maybe James will be a tv commentator again.

There are more than enough racetracks in the world that can accomodate them.

what will the public watch? a race between williams, i-sport, pro-drive and whatever most probably running the same engines?

or a race between Ferrari, mclaren, BMW, Toyota, Renault and etc.?

Max cannot win this war. He knows it, that is why he wants to destroy F1 so there will be no winners.

But because FOTA got rid of it’s rotten egg and now stands united FOTA will win. There will be great racing. Whether or not it will be called F1 remains to be seen.

14

Could it be that FOTA has made its mind up to take on the FIA for a final time.
If their application with their conditions are accepted F1 will continue as we know it.
If not accepted they start their own series next year with Williams joining in the year after when their contract with the FIA for 2010 has been fullfilled.
As for Ferrari who might have to take part untill 2012 if their contract is binding they could do both series untill then but of course with their star drivers in the new FOTA series. Then from 2013 withdraw from the FIA run F1 which would gradually fade into insignificanse. Especially if the big events like Monaco join the FOTA series.

15

I wish they would stop bickering and get on with racing.

I like to open up F1 websites and see the news about racing drivers, new developments with the cars etc.

All I have seen over this year is double diffusers, will the British GP go ahead, and all this about budgets/rights to F1.

Its just another racing series, which we all love.

Just get on with it and it does not need to be made hard.

Good work James.

Kam

16

The FIA, in my opinion, have no right to try and change the sport in this way.

Max needs to remember that they are only there to enforce the rules, they should not be making them, and if they do make them, they should have to talk to all parties about, rather than bring in this sweeping rule change and say like it or lump it!

what would happen in football if suddenly FIA said, we will make it 9 a side? or tried to make the teams operate to a budget cap?!

F1 is a billion $ business, stop trying to turn it in to F3!

17

Ecclestone Pinstripes, Mosley, and the whole F1 system has got exactly what it wants out of this furore…..

This debacle has produced acres and acres of newsprint, TV coverage, F1 bloggers reportage and comment….which is precisely what Ecclestone and Mosley’s lot desire more than anything…and that is keeping F1 on the font pages and in every TV report, every day of the year.

This blog and these comments prove my point for me !

QED.

18

I won’t cry if Ferrari quit F1 (which I doubt). I’ve had enough of all their preferential treatment, this contract with the FIA that seems to give them more advantages than their opposition and generally their complete arrogance.

This season (so far) has been a breath of fresh air to this long-time F1 fan and long may it continue.

To be honest, I would rather lose all the big manufacturers and have all the new entries on the grid next year if it means we get rid of all this needle. I just hope they don’t drag the likes of Brawn GP with them when they go. FOTA has become a farce.

19

My brain hurts!

I think I’ll just wait to see who’s on the grid at Melbourne next year.

20

Ferrari wrecking the sport? No, it is technology and a methodical approach that is the lifeblood of F1 that seems to have wrecked the sport.

Historically, the ebb and flow of a championship was not simply about drivers having good and bad races, but the technological battle through the season, with the teams bringing forward improvements that changed the balance between the drivers.

The problem we are starting to see is that, with the lack of testing, the teams are limited in how they can respond. With a capped approach, it seems more likely that once behind, another team will struggle to compete.

In same/similar car series, there is an assumption that the difference between the teams is their set-up ability and the drivers. That has never really been the case in F1. Go back to Williams hey-day and you had massive differences in cars, but the championships were rarely as cut and dried as the Brawn supremacy we are seeing at the moment.

So oddly, while I don’t agree that Ferrari is killing F1, it is the technology that puts the teams into a different league from the other classes which is strangling the sport. By putting in caps and too many restraints on spending, you take away the levelling element that has been important in F1. It would be disastrous for F1 to be so constrained in testing and parts building during the season that the team that wins is the one that starts the season with the best car.

It strikes me that neither FOTA nor FIA have got a good solution as by simply stripping costs out by capping or by restricting important activities, you grant the championship to the driver sitting in the car that was designed right first time.

21

Am I missing something? What have Brawn and Force India got to gain from opposing the budget cap?

22

James, now you know why so many of us come to this site as our first port of call. Not only are you up-to-the-minute with your news, but it is always clear, concise and, above all, accurate.

Thanks again

23

Am I the only person who thinks Ferrari are in danger of wrecking F1? I can’t work out if Ferrari are doing it because they believe their own PR or because they’re making a play to own F1… either way I just wish they’d leave and let the rest of the grid get on with racing cars.

24

I agree with you that it’s far from over yet.

The biggest threat, in my view, to a fair solution being found to the current deadlock is FOTA unity crumbling in the face of divide and rule tactics by the FIA.

It would be unthinkable for Max Mosley to accept all the new teams and reject greats like Ferrari, Renault, McLaren as well as the stars of the moment, Brawn. I suspect fans of all the 9 teams would have something to say at Silverstone if this is the way the FIA decided to go.

Potentially there are only 5 places left on the grid for 9 teams now and Mr Mosley and his friends may well want to make side deals with some of the teams to reinforce his authority on the sport. That might give him short term gain but it would ultimately harm the sport.

If FOTA were to show Mosley and the FIA that they were going to hold together, he would have to either get sensible and start negotiating or wield the axe and publicly execute Formula One.

25

I think pretty much anyone who read the actual press releases following FOTA’s ‘entry’ got the message. What is curious and deeply perplexing is why Fleet Street characterised the entry as either a) Ferrari backdown, b) Peace in our time or c) Victory for the FIA.

It’s as if they were being deliberately obtuse in their reporting.

I mean, they (the FIA, the teams, Ecclestone’s pinstrip mob), have had how many years to sign a concorde? And FOTA now demand one by June. That is extremely unlikely, particularly given CVC’s perilous finances.

The passionate fan is often cynical about the mainstream media. And it’s situations like these that fuel that cynicism. It’s hard to stay of the mind they are _NOT_ in cahoots with some powerbroker when they run such obviously oblivious stories.

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