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How the F1 grid might look in 2010
How the F1 grid might look in 2010
Posted By:   |  05 Jun 2009   |  2:59 pm GMT  |  23 comments

There have been some interesting suggestions in your comments as to the line up we may see on the grid next year, some of you clearly have some time on your hands to theorise and put drivers in cars.

I’m not going to do that, but I am going to think about what the F1 grid might look like in terms of teams next year and take a snapshot of where we are with this delicate situation.

Picture 18
The starting point is the teams who are legally obliged to take part next year. Williams acknowledges that it is one and Force India has put in an unconditional entry, so both of them will run £40 million budget capped next year.

At the time when those teams signed up with FIA and FOM in 2005, Ferrari and the two Red Bull teams also signed up. My understanding is that all three of them are in the same boat legally as Williams and Force India, even though they currently stand with the FOTA teams in making only a conditional entry for next year.

I don’t know whether the law courts can force Ferrari to race in F1 next year if it does not want to, but it seems that the FIA and FOM would have grounds for a damages claim if they did not and quite a substantial one it would be too. Ferrari’s argument would be that the sport had subtantively changed from what they signed up to and it would be down to a judge to rule on which side was in the right.

This afternoon Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali put his side of the story,

“That is the position of Max of course. We had an agreement with the FIA but we felt that the obligations inside that agreement were breached, so the agreement is not valid anymore. We have put in our entry together with other competitors with the condition that we think is important to respect for the future of Formula One.”

This really is the key to it all, because if Ferrari are legally bound to be in F1 with the FIA and FOM, then the other FOTA teams have had it.

They will be forced to either quit the sport altogether or to capitulate and run under the £40 million budget cap. It would be pretty much impossible to run a rival series without Ferrari.

The confident way in which Max Mosley has conducted his campaign so far increasingly indicates that he feels the law is on his side. I think the court hearing in Paris where Ferrari were seeking an injunction, gave the FIA confidence that the agreement between them is binding, so they now to see Ferrari as a big fish, which is hooked on a line, albeit wriggling like mad.

So, after some more argument and maybe the odd lawsuit, that potentially gives you five of the existing teams on the grid next year; Williams, Ferrari, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Force India.

Of the new entrants, it is very hard to judge from the outside which are dreamers and which have a realistic chance of actually building a competitive car and I’m certainly not in a position to guess who’s who. Even the existing team bosses are finding it hard to work that one out. The FIA is doing due diligence on them as we speak.

The rules as I understand it allow for existing teams to help the new teams with technology up to a point, but that point stops well short of customer cars. You could easily imagine a team getting the kind of support Force India gets from McLaren Mercedes, for example.
Picture 19

Beyond proving that they have sufficient funds to make a go of it and not fail in their first year, this co-operation will be the key as to whether some of the new entrants make it or not. I personally think that it is far harder to build an F1 car, let alone a competitive one, than most of them realise, but we will see.

If three of them get through the entry process, that makes eight teams on the grid with five spaces left. Co-incidentally there would also be five teams left in FOTA; Brawn, McLaren, Toyota, BMW, Renault.

This is the key point that Mosley has to judge correctly when selecting new entrants. If five of the new entrants are granted a franchise, then that would mean two of the existing teams would be left without a slot. But the signs are still there that one or two of them are seriously thinking about making an exit at this point, so there may only be three FOTA teams left looking for spaces, depending on whether they were inclined to capitulate.

It’s really a question of whether there are enough credible new teams and whether any of the manufacturers are prepared to climb down. In that scenario I could perhaps see Renault pulling out and Flavio Briatore buying up the team and entering it as Briatore GP, or something similar.

I can also see why McLaren and Brawn would not want to be left without a slot. Both exist only to race and have a lot of infrastructure and personnel to consider.

And that’s it really, beyond making the point that some new blood in F1 would be a good thing, but like everything else there is a balance to be struck. We need F1 to be F1 and not GP1 and we need a good mixture of established names and new blood which has a genuine chance of succeeding.

There is no way that an F1 team should need to cost £100 million a year to run, but equally there is no way that the guardians of the sport should throw away a well established, thrilling entertainment based on brilliant drivers and technological marvel.

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I find it difficult to believe that for a team there isn't a way to quit once it has signed the Concorde. I mean how did teams like Jaguar or Stewart etc. get out then?


I fully understand and agree with the idea of cost-capping, but the naivete of the concept of accurately policing it is one issue. The second issue is the number of people who will be fired - what of them? Third, has noone ever heard of multi-year contracts? Some of these big teams will no doubt have budgets with a required spend next year of 10MM next year due to contracts - will that represent value to them?

The big problem with the cost cap is the sudden and draconian implementation.

The biggest problem overall, is the megalomanical "ruling" of the sport. The terrible two have been yawning on about cost-cutting for _years_ and what have we got. Billions spent converting from V10's to V8's - !!!! Now we have got KERS - what a waste - it clearly, in half the teams, just slows down the cars. Another, what 500MM wasted?

Real cost savings come with rule stability. F1 has been a joke for a couple of years now - the idiots running the rules making have been fleecing the teams for several years, and this is what must change.

Budget cap, indeed.

The Kitchen Cynic

What was the phrase?

"In order to save the village it became necessary to destroy it"


Suzy, my understanding is that FOM/FIA would have been within their rights to pursue Jaguar for withdrawing while under a Concorde, but chose not to because what would it achieve? Suing/kicking someone that is already down. However when it comes to teams pulling out in the midst of this whinge-fest about wanting to tear up rules that the sanctioning body is introducing, that's a different matter. And rightly so.


James: My question would be this - Force India may now have submitted an unconditional entry, but they've presumably missed the deadline to do so. Does this have potential implications for the team, should Max choose to drop them in favor of one of the new submissions?


Last year BMW had a real chance of being up at the top at the end of the season but they chose not to spend the money on developing the car. They said that they were rather spending the money developing this years car [which clearly hasn't worked] but it was a tactical choice and they made the wrong one.
On the red button this afternoon they were going on about the end of season and how exciting it will be as all the cars 'catch up', if for the sake of argument, some of the teams decide to call it a day, why would they spend anything more than basics from June 12th onward? And no, I don't agree that Ferrari will be 'forced' to race, I am sure the Italian courts will be very sympathetic...... oh and by the way Nigel Stepney's case still hasn't come to court and that is how many years old? After all that has been said I simply don't see them backing down and submitting to the FIA's governance. I wonder how many people have actually read the FIA regulations, especially the bit about altering the rules as they go to achieve 'the desired outcome' [I don't have the energy to look up the exact wording]
In reply to the previous question, Ford/Jaguar sold to Stewart and they sold to Red Bull, they didn't just walk away.



Do you think Ferrari are baiting some of their top competitors to make a stance to interrupt their operation while they will be granted entry whichever way Max decides to fall because of their binding agreement?


Hi James,
what's Bernie's & CVC'S position on this?. Surely from marketing prospective this is becoming a nightmare. If I was a Marketing Director i'm not sure F1 is where I would want to put my millions. Irrespective of what we think of some of these teams, they have a sound fan base and the fans recognise the name of the sponsors. I get the feeling that this is being overlooked by Max. As for the FIA relying on the new teams, to raise at £40m per year, this task is not going to be easy. I can see attendance at GP's falling and tv & sponsorship revenue falling as a result of this diagreement. Would'nt it be nice to be positive for a change!
Keep up the good work!

Christian Stewart

The contract signed by Ferrari binding it to compete until 2012 was apparently an extension of the Concorde Agreement. Given the FIA's unilateral and irregular proposed changes to the rules one has to suspect that Ferrari would be able to drive a coach and horses through any breach of contract action by the FIA or Ecclestone. Indeed, why would Max have proposed the two tier regulations if that were not the case?

Even if Ferrari felt obliged to enter two cars under budget cap rules, they could easily subcontract the operation of the team to an independent, allow them to use the Ferrari name only and not the colour or prancing horse. A nondescript team running at the back, operating on a shoestring budget, unrecognisable as Ferrari would be just as bad for the show.

Ferrari's strength of hand is exactly what is holding FOTA together.


ARGHHHHH! I Jus wish all of this would stop! I know costs have to be cut and all, But this is getting beyond a joke! We have had an amazing run of seasons from 05 through to the last corner of the last race in 08 All done on the track, none of this politics! I personally dont mind seeing a few new teams in, like Prodrive, But im with Ferrari's stance on this, It will end up just like a glorified GP2! Mosley has lost it, If it were up 2 him, there would be 1 engine for all motorsports, Standardising the hell out of everything!


My biggest concern with all of this now is that max will do anything to win his argument.The teams have all said they will stay till 2012.Max doesn't want to loose so will put up these new teams as viable alternatives to the existing teams regardless of what due diligence says.We could then have the real scenario that none of these teams are actually in F1 in 2012 because they all went broke.


Out of interest...what is preventing F1 from adding another row to the grid?

Gavin Pendergrast

Whats the bet that each of the FOTA teams have also entered next year under the guise of all these new teams that are coming out of the woodwork. This would cover thier butts if the FIA kicked them out as they would just morph into one of the new teams and continue racing. Or if they start there own series they could pull the rug out from under the FIA by cancelling these'backup' entries and leave F1 with Williams vs Force India. That will be great TV!


James: A good article as always & I fully agree with your view that the absolute key factor in all of this is the legal position of Ferrari.

There is obviously something I've missed here though. When Ferrari sought the injunction a couple of weeks ago, the courts ruled that the agreement Ferrari believed they had with the FIA/FOM IS NOT binding. Yet you say above that this ruling has given Max confidence that their agreement with Ferrari IS binding hence giving the FIA a very strong position in all this.

How exactly does the first ruling help Max?


Having seen how difficult it has for teams to compete in the 2008 season and adjust to the current season rule changes it is impossible to imagine a scenario where they could successfully redesign a car that could be campaigned within the budget constrains given the limited amount of time available

No body wants to see F1 disappear due to high costs but to see it transform into a less than the best series is not in anyone's interest either.


They have already, it was 12 teams now it's been enlarged to 13 for 2010. Beyond 26 cars you have safety issues at some of the tracks, as I understand it. In the past the idea of 12 teams was to keep the value in the franchise, but as there have been two empty slots for a while now, that's not been relevant


I'm confused as to how could that be. The deadline was publicly stated as being May 29th, and as of yesterday it was being claimed that Force India was among the teams who had submitted only a conditional entry contingent upon the 2009 rules being retained with FOTA's approved tweaks, and upon all FOTA teams being accepted into the championship.

There are two possibilities as I see it:

* Force India didn't submit the standard FOTA conditional entry a week ago as stated, and instead submitted a full and unconditional entry, or an entry with different conditional terms to those of its fellow FOTA members. If so, this would imply that Force India have misled FOTA since submitting their entry, or they'd have been dropped a week ago along with Williams.

* Alternatively, Force India submitted only the standard FOTA conditional entry a week ago. In that case, even if they've now decided to change that to a full entry, they've missed the deadline - *unless* the conditional entries themselves are considered valid. For that to be the case, FOTA's terms have to be accepted, surely? After all, the submissions are contingent upon FOTA's requirements being met - so if they aren't met, those original entries *have* to be invalid.


Force India, as you point out James, get technical help from McLaren. How much of their budget is this worth ? (And how do you quantify it ?) Does it bring down their own budget "allowance" or increase McLaren's ? In fact, if established teams give technical help to newcomers, how will this be quantified in terms of their budget ?

And what will Force India do if McL decide to quit ? They will presumably be in breach of contract if they do not now appear.

(Contracts - last refuge of the scoundrel.)


No, they got it in before the deadline


Remember that Bernie has contracts sewn up with all sorts, the teams, (although some are expired) the tracks, the FIA the track advertising the PR, the tv feed, tv rights, etc etc.

So he is currently getting many £M worth of free publicity, standing on the side while Max is being castigated, he almost cannot loose, his money will not fall if less people watch on tv, he may loose a bit on the track takings but I suspect that he still gets paid even if only 6 spectators turn at the track.

Pies-fingers, Bernie has lots of both.
In the other thread I have commented that Bernie has probably done another 3 way deal with Wheatcroft and Gillett ensuring his future income from the UK venue.

There will be an F1 series in 2010 and onwards, "it may not be life as we know it Jim," but it will still live on, making money.
I wonder if the former Mrs Bernie had a future earnings clause in her settlement.


As with any contract, one party can be let out by mutual agreement.


They sold themselves to each other! Stewart–>Jaguar–>Red Bull.

Didn't Toyota sign up in 2005 as well?


Without seeing the terms of the agreement it's impossible to say. However weren't these teams sold on - as such there was no loss to the FIA - imagine the loss of revenue if ferrari left.

However, why have an entry 'window' if some teams are already obliged to enter?

Also, does anyone know why ferarri did not veto the budget cap when it was proposed by the FIA - as I understand it they lost the injunction becasue they had the opportunity to do so... and mised it. Expensive mistake!

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