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Three reactions to today's Ferrari news
Three reactions to today's Ferrari news
Posted By:   |  20 May 2009   |  7:30 pm GMT  |  52 comments

This is going to be one of those weekends, where the buzz is constant and the drama level high.

The strange statement on the Ferrari website denigrating the teams hoping to enter F1 seems to have garnered the most reaction, certainly a lot of the media are focussed on it.

But in the wider sphere, the reaction has been interesting to the news from Paris that Ferrari’s injunction has failed. This is one of those moments when you need to apply a bit of perspective and calm appraisal, rather than run screaming.

We’ve had some great comments on this site this afternoon about both the Paris news and the Ferrari website posting, many of which reflect the perspective that members of the public are able to bring, more readily perhaps than F1 insiders.

I’ve picked out three reactions from inside F1 to consider tonight, the first, inevitably, is Ferrari’s own reaction to the news that their injunction has failed,

“While continuing to evaluate whether or not to continue with this legal action already underway, Ferrari confirms its commitment to work within FOTA in conjunction with the FIA and the Commercial Rights Holder to ensure that Formula 1 is a series where the rules are the same for everyone and which benefits from stability in the regulations, while continuing the work of the past few months in moving forward methodically and gradually towards reducing costs,” their statement this afternoon says.

“If it is not possible for all parties to reach agreement, then in line with the decision of the Main Board, taken on 12th May, Ferrari will not enter its cars in a competition that, with the planned scenario in place, would see a watering down of the characteristics that have endowed Formula 1 with the status of the most important motor sport series and that have specifically led to the Maranello marque’s uninterrupted participation in the world championship since 1950.

“In this situation, Ferrari will continue to compete in races of a calibre worthy of the marque, matching its level of innovation and technological research.”

There is an air of grim determination about the tone of this. Ferrari has taken a course and must now follow it to its logical conclusion. They cannot believe that the FIA would sacrifice them and other manufacturers for Nick Wirth, I Sport and Litespeed and neither can many people who follow the sport closely.

Meanwhile the drivers have been reflecting on the situation and as usual, it falls to Fernando Alonso to say something meaningful. If Ferrari and other manufacturers leave F1, perhaps to make something out of a series based around Le Mans, then Alonso will not offer his services to I Sport or even Williams. He will go and do something which rings true for him,

“I don’t know if this will be my last time in Monaco, ” he said this afternoon.

“If the big teams and the big manufacturers leave F1 then I don’t want to race with small teams, because it is not any more F1 and there are many other categories.

“For me, it is strange that no one sat down and thought how we are damaging the sport, how much damage the sport has had in the last two months. To have those three or four new teams and losing seven of the big manufacturers I cannot understand – and not losing only seven manufacturers but losing the 10 best drivers in the world. It becomes no more interesting, F1.”

Alonso will play a role for a team if it suits him and he is thinking as much to his Ferrari contract of the future as he is to the Renault contract of the present. But he also speaks for himself and this is an honest appraisal of the situation as he sees it, rather gloomy, somewhat anxious and powerless.

BMW boss Mario Thiessen was expected to follow Ferrari and Renault last week in saying that the company wouldn’t compete in F1 if the rules don’t change, but he didn’t follow through, which is interesting and shows that he has perhaps seen something new in this,

“I would say we need to be positive and we need to be confident and we need to push to get an agreement because it doesn’t make sense for any of the stakeholders to damage the platform we have.”

As to whether BMW will enter in 2010 he said, “We will discuss it on Friday with FOTA and not make any statement before.”

Classic Theissen, not giving anything away, but maybe BMW has some inkling of a way forward and for that reason did not follow the others in coming out last week.

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Maybve you should read the bbc website – this from 2005 😉 😉 😉

Among the issues concerning the rival teams and manufacturers are:

Ferrari are guaranteed $67m (£34.8m) every year – an estimated 15-20% of their budget – before any money is distributed to the other teams.

Ferrari have absolute veto over all changes agreed by the other teams, even if the other teams agree unanimously.

Ferrari would get more of F1’s commercial revenue if they finished last than any other team would if they won the world championship.


James, I wonder who Alonso meant as the top 10 drivers?
I tried to work this out and got to 8, Hamilton, Massa, Raikonnen, Kubica, Vettel, Rosberg, Button and of course Alonso himself. Its harder from there to pick the 9th and 10th. Who would your top ten be? Its a tough one!!


there are several things going on here. however, what i’m picking up from the noise is that bernie is going to step in and save F1 from max. firstly, max’s two-tier formula is over. max’s indifference to ferrari leaving F1 has been countered by bernie (and everyone else). max’s enthusiasm about getting several new teams in at the expense of the manufacturers does not sit well with bernie. without the manufacturers, sponsorship, tv rights etc will dry up. bernie will never let that happen.

also what’s interesting is the point of john howett. now that the two-tier system has been scrapped, his main contention, seemingly taking even higher position than the figure of the budget cap, is the ‘governance’ of the FIA. he is fundamentally opposed to the FIA writing and implementing the rules, and the methods by which they (Max) goes about this. and guess what, bernie agrees – the FIA should be the adjudicator, they should not be writing the rules.

max is bernie’s puppet. when the [moderated] orgy (which is perfectly ok and acceptable for a man of max’s position, and doesn’t in any way bring the sport into disrepute) came out, bernie wasn’t happy with max and made some digs at him. then it all calmed down with the following politics (conviniently) and bernie let him stay. but now he’s again putting F1 in danger, bernie isn’t going to stand by and let that happen.

bye bye max 🙂 don’t let the door hit you on the way out


Don’t know all that much about it, but if engines and drivers’ salaries are to be excluded from the reckoning, surely, if teams got rid of the extravagant motor-homes, and all the hangers-on and stuff they don’t really need, they wouldn’t have much difficulty staying withing the 40 mil. limit?

(Didn’t David Coulthard say something like that the other week, outside the MacLaren ‘motor home’, which was bigget than my house, and probably cost several times as much?)


Alonso is presumably helping his team apply pressure here – by saying how much it saddens and concerns him that he might not be here next year. Of course he will. Its just another bit of weight applied by a ‘big name’ in the Ferrari (not exactly small themselves!) camp to the arm-twisting that is already happening.

I think the BMW statement is the most sensible approach -i.e. don’t stuff up what you have already got by getting greedy; how about a compromise; and, importantly, try to do it in private please, without ruining the sport in the public eye!


VETO. Raelene’s point above is worth pursuing: what is this “veto” Ferrari are said to have and why hasn’t it been used against the FIAs past reactions to Ferrari domination – is there any evidence of it having been ever used?

There’s plenty of “evidence” that it wasn’t used when it could have: like against the change in the points system to stop Schumacher, 1-lap qualifying to penalise race-winners, KERS which Ferrari said was a waste of money…

Mosley said Ferrari could have vetoed the budget cap when it was agreed but they didn’t and “just sat there” – so is this veto really what we think it is? (I wouldn’t take anything Mosley said at face value, and it was meant to be a council meeting deciding McLaren’s fate, not F1’s).


Fernando Alonso has confirmed that he’s participating in the next Le Mans 24 hour race and “will probably also do it more often”. But , he says, it is not ‘plan B’.

Whether it is or it isn’t plan B it is evidence that he is taking the threat to the drivers in manufacturers’ teams seriously and taking control of his own future. Good on him!

It would be a mockery of F1 to see him and his peers in the sport continuing to drive GPs in utterly uncompetitive cars should the 7 pull out (which I think/hope is unlikely).

Neither Max Moseley nor Bernie Ecclestone appears to have the slightest respect for the drivers , far less care about their futures, but maybe Alonso’s interesting career development will remind them that the real jewels in the crown of F1 for many fans are the race drivers. Their absence and fans’ ensuing loss of interest might hit them where their real interest lies.


The comments of Ferrari, BMW, and Alonso point out to one thing—-something big is brewing within FOTA and they are being extremely quiet about it.

If FIA will not have an acceptable compromise with FOTA, i am sure they(FOTA) have a plan B in the making.

Moreover, the present teams who are perceived to be in favor of the budget cap have been extremely quiet. Have not read any comments from them regarding the issue. Thus, as of the moment it seems that the rest of the teams are going to speak on this matter through FOTA while Ferrari is leading the way in keeping this issue alive in the press for public consumption.

I do not think Ferrari would be brave enough to do what they are doing now, alone. All of this must have the blessings of FOTA.

I do not know how all this will end, but i have a feeling it won’t be an amicable one.


A week or so ago Mario Thiessen said that the two tier budget cap was “unattractive.” In corporate-speak describing something as “unattractive” is the kiss of death, and I interpreted his statement along those lines. It seems I was wrong to do so, and surprised- I was convinced that BMW were looking for an excuse to pull out of F1. I hope they do have a plan, and I hope it works, because I’m getting tired of all this nonsense.

James, I would be very interested in your reply to one or both of Kevin M’s questions.

Northern Munkee

Ferrari go, or enter under the new rules and the money you save, and the staff you have you can do Le Mans in LMP1, and GT1. Just like the the good old days of the 60’s and 70’s. That’s tradition!

The trouble is F1 is too big. Too big for motorsport, there’s so much more to motorsport than just F1, but BE (& MM a little) have manoeurved F1 to such a a point of supremacy, actively blocking competition in years gone passed (see the EU anti trust settlement around 2000 or so).

I for one can’t believe anyone saying the most important thing about F1 is tradition! Sorry old chum the most important thing about F1 to you is Ferrari! I thought the most important thing is the often forlorn hope of seeing some great racing (and unassisted overtaking).

Lotus, Brabham, Cooper, Tyrell, Ligier, they were also all part of “the tradition” and in ine way or another they have folded, not least because they could not find budget to keep going. OR couldn’t raise the increasing size of budget, that it now takes to compete. Mosley proposals are reducing budget levels to what mid 90’s?

Ferrari go, yes you’ll be able to trade very successfully on your history to sell road cars for a very long time.

The league is bigger is bigger than 1 team.

Looks like BMW may break ranks with the rebels, to me. McLaren are very quiet as well, I wonder if they are waiting to see what carrot might be dangled to them to get them to sign on, maybe a miraculous rehab of Ron Dennis, MM is two faced enough. And McLaren also run a sportscar programme to Mclaren road cars.

In my utopian idyll, I also dispose of MM and BE as well, and CVC. [moderated]


My question here is for you James. I’d be interested to know if you, as a journalist, would stick with F1 should the manufacturers leave or would you drop F1 for a potential breakaway series?

Perhaps if you don’t feel comfortable answering this, I’d be interested to note what the vibe is with other journalists regarding this question.


“buzz” “drama level high”, yes if you are an F1 journalist, but if you are just a mere pathetic fan of F1 its actually tedious and pathetic. I love how journo’s spin all this crap like it’s part of the drama, when actually it’s an embarrassing farce that most forms of sport manage to somehow avoid, but F1 makes a habit of.
Kind of reminds me of watching those dull processional races in the 00’s and being told by the commentators that the strategy was “fascinating”.
Indy 500 this week with its cheap seats, overtaking, fan access and focus on spectacle, how tacky.

I’m glad I watch the pinnacle of motorsport that is F1, with drivers like Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso, Raikonnen, Kubica and Massa in the field yet for some reason aging journeyman Rubens Barrichello is 2nd in the championship!
Tired of the same cars and drivers winning, that’s OK we’ll shake F1 like a snow globe until those who were last become first and those who were first become last. The 2009 championship in meaningless in my estimation. And being told by journalists that this scenario is “fascinating” and “exciting” is quite insulting.



Be the 1st to test Ferrari and Max.

Start an Online Poll of how many fans will watch F1 next year if Ferrari pulls out.

I bet you get a ton of votes and exposure for doing do.



If the manufacturers go, and Ferrari goes, then kiss F1 goodbye, Ferrari is F1.

For proof of what can happen to a racing seies that is divided, simply look across the pond at Indycar in the 90’s, and you will see the results. A series that drove away sponsors, fans, manufacturers, etc…and almost 15 years after The Split, still cannot recover. If Ferrari leave, and take a few teams with them, it will be the slow painful death of F1, they will split the drivers the sponsors etc….read some of Robin Miller’s rants from SpeedTV, he can tell you the outcome. It is not pretty. The ultimate pain will be felt by the millions of fans, who will watch the suffering.


Ive been watching F1 for 20years and on reflecting on all of this, i have to say i dont care whether Ferrari carry on F1 on or not.

I watch Formula1 because i love racing and raced cars myself in the past. When i tune every other sunday, i do so to watch great racing from cars that look dramatic and have sense of speed.

Who’s name is on the entry list isnt issue. Having a set rules that design out the possibility to race at close quarters and a operating cost that means only a selected few can compete is an issue.

It was said in the early 90’s that allowing the manufactures to come in and take over would come back to bite if the FIA didnt keep a lid on the spending and so its proved true. Max eluded to this very fact recently in an interview with the BBC with a sense of regret in his voice.

At this point, i would gladly take Prodrive, USGP, Nick Wirth, I Sport, Litespeed et all in exchange for Ferrari, they would be young, fresh and hungry.

Just what the sport needs.


If they are gonna leave then leave otherwise put up or shut up! (Ferrari).

whinge bags! – they have set out their stall, everyone knows their position and sentiments, so enough already!
Ironically all the things over the years which have been happening behind closed doors and I wanted to hear about, never saw the light of day, but this public moaning is getting very old and tiresome (Ferrari).

We have a FANtastic season on our hands and in progress
and the tone is being dragged down by all this posturing, its like a bad soap 😆



the veto (and the money they were given) was public knowledge years ago when the FIA got them to leave the GPWC.

I believe some other teams got some “benefits” as well, although obviously not as many as Ferrari.

This veto thing does make me wonder – why haven’t Ferrari used it in the past – ie. in regard to KERS?


For me one of the most important attractions of F1 is TRADITION. It seems to me that FIA has lost all respect for tradition and for much of its fan base (e.g., the current lack of venues in North America and France). I have been a Ferrari fan since I was a child: as far as I’m concerned, if Ferrari doesn’t compete, then F1 no longer exists.


I think that everyone has something on the table worth playing for…. The manufacturers are thinking over plenty of possibilites – on how with breakaway series, they can have more control over the money spread, commercial rights, even the circuits – being from logistical, commercial or even promoters point (remember the statements from BMW, Mercedes, Toyota that they need to go back on the North American market), not to mention rules and regulations.
On the other have you have Bernie tied up all of the above in his own bag, everything already working, and branding it with the biggest name in motorsports F1…. you also have Max who thinks that the “three-of-a-kind aces” he’s holding in his hand can beat the “four-of-a-kind seven” that Luca is trying to put on the table…
You also have drivers, who are worried that next year they will be either driving in mediocre F1 with budget caps and teams that would like to save, when it comes to driver’s salary, or they would be driving for the top dogs, but at the same time in some series, who no one knows how will evolve in a tough economic period….
So i think at the end some one will have to fold his hand in the next week or so, because otherwise, we the public will have to concentrate all over again on the gossip, the useless media attention, and everything else damaging the sport since the start of the era of the famous movable floors, mass dampers, liar and spy gates….

And all of this is in the middle of some of the most interesting seasons we have in a long time… i still admire the greatest MS, but it started to get bit boring

Yes i can agree that it’s hurtful to the tifosi (and to me don’t get me wrong) to see that the prancing horse is not at the front of the pack, and some white car (fitted with their biggerst rival’s engine and masterminded by “once-upon-a-time” Ferarri’s greatest assets) is kicking everyone’s backside, but at the time it’s so exciting to see how other people can compete for the victory.

I honestly would like to see everyone on the grid next year, even the qualified from Ferrari as GP3 teams, and i think we should have more races per season, which would normally generate more revenue for the teams and FIA/FOM…. it would also bring back circuits like Montreal , and Indy (or even Watkins Glen)….
I would love to see Alonso in a red overalls, against Vettel, Kubica, racing for the first time in India….
who knows we might see even Silverstone back if the evil plan of Bernie acquiring it and keep the British GP for himslef only would succeed

p.s. Mr.Allen – great website, it’s unfortunate to see BBC leaving you for some useless chap….. but you never know – everything happens for a reason – you might be a comentator for the new breakaway series 🙂 anyway, great source of insider look on F!, one thing that is never missed…


It is a fallacy to suggest that the car manufacturers make F1 great and any individual team in particular. Go here: and tell me how many car manufacturers you can see against some of the truly great names like Lotus, Brabham, Williams and Maclaren.

The most interesting comment for me was Alonso’s reference to the “10 best drivers”. The following teams could go:

Toro Rosso

I can think of a few drivers in those teams that I wouldn’t consider to be in the 10 best! Mostly they are of course, but it is a clever way of Alonso giving legitimacy to the idea that without the manufacturers you wont get good racing and the same cache to the series. I think when people say that he is the most complete driver, you can really see what they mean. It is reminiscent of the kind of mental fencing that Schumacher was so adept at.

What I find confusing about the thrust of Alonso’s and Ferrari’s claim is that the privateer teams seem to be doing much better under these rules and it hasn’t detracted from the prestige of the sport in anyway, if anything it has made it more exciting! It didn’t damage the sport for decades at a time when Ferrari weren’t winning championships. I would much rather have Brawn (or Super Aguri) than Honda, Red Bull (or Stewart) rather than Jaguar and definately Benetton rather than Renault (not that there is any significant difference)! For me, F1 will really be over when Williams stop racing as they are the last of the true independent privateers left, which is really what F1 is all about.


I posted this elsewhere and just wanted to post it here too…

Id like to address this notion that Max supporters constantly bring up.

The notion that the manufacturer teams are not real racing teams while newcomers like litespeed, Isport etc are the real teams with racing in their blood.

Absolutely not true.

Firstly the FOTA teams still have the best racing personnel in the business, because they are now getting sponsored by car manufacturers (who im sure come in with some of their best designers) doesnt change that fact.

2ndly yes, Mclaren, Ferrari etc were once garage teams but that was a long time ago….when the sport was in infancy, developing and evolving.

F1 didn’t become the pinnacle of motorsport by those teams remaining “humble” garage-like teams….no, they expanded, invested and built an auto racing prestige and legacy over decades that help F1 become what it is today.

A “pinnacle” of motorsport should have the best racing teams, engineers and car manufacturers. That’s approximately what you get when you look at FOTA. It shouldnt be about just any body who can raise money from some privateers, get a bunch of folks together and start racing. If not there is no reason we shouldn’t have a James Allen Blog F1 team, long as we can get some Dubai sheik to invest the dough. Im sure we got racing in our blood too….

If thats what you want, there are many spec series for you to enjoy.

Going back to the garage thing. To use a football analogy, sure Arsenal football club was once a bunch of dudes that worked in an Armoury, but that doesn’t mean now that its cool for any bunch of folks that work in a sweatshop and got some kits to think they have any right to be in the Premiership.

Fact is times have changed, F1 is a much bigger sport and if you want to be part of that legacy and compete with the best, you need to do your homework and somehow earn it, not get spoon-fed by Max, forcibly trying to create an artificial playing field with total disregard for the teams that have made F1 what it is today.

With all that being said, cutting costs is a noble and necessary thing to do…just the way Max and FIA have gone about it has been totally wrong and F1 will suffer immensely because of that if the FIA do not back off.


Im sorry to jump on the conspiracy theories, but…

Maybe this a Ferrari powerplay to makes sure Jean Todt gets elected FIA president at the next election. I wonder if Todt is such a big proponent of budget caps. This has got to weaken Mosely quite a bit and maybe tipping the balance in favor of Todt.


It’s such a shame that essentially a non-contributor to the spectacle, ie Mosley, is proving to be the crux of the problems. Of course nothing’s ever 100% black and white, but while I find Ecclestone a fascinating character, and have deep admiration for his acumen and achievments in dragging a sport populated largely by well-heeled amateurs to arguably the globe’s pre-eminent sporting attraction, I utterly fail to comprehend how Mosley contributes anything other than angst and division.

The very essence of a politician, he has blatantly betrayed numerous campaign promises to the extent that his work must surely be worth less than a Nigerian email promising untold riches in return for one’s bank details – yet the very teams and corporations who exist to participate, and who, lest we forget, shoulder 100% of the financial risks inherent in the sport (how do you make a small fortune? Start off with a large one and enter F1) simply have no real say in their own destiny.

At virtually every stage of his stewardship of F1, Mosley has reduced matters to a simplistic him-or-me intellectual pissing war between himself and his various nemeses – Stoddart, Michelin, Stewart, Dennis, now De Montezemolo, always placing his desperate need to carry the motion above what’s truly best for the sport he was voted to, and gets paid handsomely to, govern.

I’d like to see all of the teams simply manage, for once, to ally properly and drive off into the distance. You can’t tell me that 12 teams could knock on the doors of various media companies and historic race tracks and not be welcomed with open arms… Or better still, simply all abstain from signing up to next year’s contracts until the minute Mosley resigns.

Come on team principals – sort it out!


Your point about Theissen and BMW is one that offers hope.

Hopefully they can sit down – sharpish – and get a deal thrashed out that keeps all of the major manufacturers in the sport.

I thought, like many, that it was one of Mosely’s ‘games’ where he makes radical proposals knowing every one will eventually comprimise and meet in the middle. The longer this drags on however, the more and more i start to worry. For the first time i can actually see Ferrari walking away from this. Mosely is playing with fire.

Were the big guns to head out of the sport, i personally believe it would be a long road back for F1. I don’t (at the moment) really see the appeal in watching random teams racing round that have drivers who aren’t as good as Kimi, Alonso etc etc.

However, after time, if the racing is good and competitive, then im sure the viewers would come back.

I wouldnt really be interested in watching the sports car racing teams like Ferrari might have a go at either, it just doesnt have the same appeal as F1 grand prix.

So, at the moment the future looks bleak, i still hold hope that this can all be sorted out and we get the big teams still in the sport and maybe a few new ones as well.

Its such a shame that this has to happen when we’ve had quite a few good gps this season and have just witnessed two of the greatest championships in years and years.


The 10 best drivers in the world? I absolutely refuse to believe the 10th-best F1 driver is better than Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan or Dario Franchitti.

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