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Is there any talking to be done?
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Is there any talking to be done?
Posted By:   |  18 Jun 2009   |  6:14 am GMT  |  68 comments

A tense day ahead at Silverstone for everybody. The teams have proposed that the deadline be moved back to July 1st to allow more time for discussion but that was rebuffed by FIA president Max Mosley yesterday. The FOTA teams sent a letter to Mosley with suggestions for a compromise to the issue of budget caps, and the method of financial control,

“We detect… that a solution might be possible based on the FOTA resource restriction proposal but with measures introduced,” the letter said.

“We would propose in this respect that we nominate a top firm of independent accountants who will devise an audit methodology that will be implemented by all of the teams.

“This methodology and the annual results would be disclosed to the FIA… we can see no reason why such a system based on objective verification of compliance would not be acceptable to all parties.”

But later in the day Mosley wrote back in a letter which was widely circulated, with his version of a compromise he would be prepared to accept. Once again this was based on the teams all signing up unconditionally and then negotiating changes to the rules from within. Mosley has said repeatedly that there has to be a cap. He has offered for an ‘mutually acceptable auditor’ to be the investigator should policing be required.

Mosley confirmed that there would be no two tier system of rules, but that Cosworth, which has not built a new F1 engine for three years, would be allowed to run their engine unrestricted.

A letter will go out today or tomorrow in Silverstone requesting signatures from all the FOTA teams with the deadline Friday.

With their actions last week, the teams have got themselves into a position where they seem to be suggesting that a deal can only be done if Mosley doesn’t stay in his role. Mosley, for his part, is sticking to his guns.

Who will blink first?

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1

They have carried out their threat… http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/8108488.stm

It’s going to make for an interesting weekend!!!

Steve

2

Breakaway! Hallelujah!

Max can stuff it! Silverstone 2010 possible! Bye bye Bernie and CVC.

Where can I buy my tickets now?

3

If i were the teams, i would tell the FIA to get lost. See how long it will take for the F1 owners to tell the FIA to bugger off.

Not only will f1 be restricted to an unrealiable cosworth engine which will cost millions to spec up none of the teams will have an ECU or a gearbox, i see it impossible the new teams could build a car anywhere in comparison to the current spec mclaren let alone brawn or williams and no doubt money would leave the sport in the 100’s of millions. Tracks would sue, tv networks would sue, sponsors for the new teams would renegotiate deal, products outside of f1 like minchamps and other side deal would be sueing as there contract rights have no been fullfilled.

What will happen then. The whole industry would be turned on its head.

The reason for this and qiuetly supported by Bernie and CVC is if spending is capped, the teams have no finanical arguement to ask for a more equal share of the money earned. Were they should be recieving 90% of total revenue, they are only getting 50% of tv revenue. Cap spending they are almost breaking even with money distruibuted vs money spending. CVC and Bernie is happy as there wallets are looked after and they continue to screw the sport.

Teams must leave and make this hurt the FIA, Bernie and CVC financially. Once they feel the pain, with lawsuits and viewing numbers dropping in there 100’s of millions and contract breahes all over the world they will have no option. Not only this the f1 brand would be worth 1/3 of current value.

4

I look forward with hope and pleasure to a breakaway. Here’s why:

FIRST: All of those wringing their hands over an IRL/CART scenario are citing the wrong precedent. The real model is the CART/USAC split of 1979, a split that occurred after the team owners got fed up with arbitrary rule making and governance, and inequitable commercial arrangements. Sound familiar? The teams took control of the top tier of open wheel racing. USAC was left with one big name (AJ Foyt) for awhile, and a bunch of under financed and under prepared teams — so much so that at least one post-split USAC race used upright front-engined cars to fill out the field. And you can look that up.

SECOND: The CART teams, in other words, had the guts to do what F1 teams never have. FOTA is exactly equivalent to CART, the FIA (capricious, dictatorial, with governance and rule making done by an older generation clinging to power, threatening dire consequences to those daring to challenge them) to ’79-era USAC. History shows that CART went from strength to strength for almost 20 years and that USAC sank to regional status, never again achieving the prestige and significance it had pre-split. Whither then (wither?) the FIA post-split?

THIRD: The dire threats of lawsuits against the FOTA teams by Ecclestone and Mosley are again pre-figured by the USAC/CART wars. USAC tried to prevent the CART teams from racing at Indy in retaliation for the split, a move rejected by the courts via injunction. Given the state of EU anti-monopoly laws and regulations, there is no reason to believe that the FIA and FOM will achieve a different result in the event of a FOTA/FIA split.

FOURTH: Someone may have numbers to prove me wrong, but a FOTA/FIA/FOM split will not allow a NASCAR-style takeover of public attention and sponsorship: There is no sign of another series on the rise with new young stars and recognized veterans as NASCAR was in the early and mid-1990s, ready and able to fill the void. LeMans remains significant — with Indianapolis, one of two races even non-race fans have heard of — and doubtless the factories will now mount campaigns there of varying degrees, with or without a split. But the LeMans Series is certainly not in the already strong position NASCAR held at the time of the CART/IRL split.

FIFTH: There are plenty of places to race, and, unlike the situation here in the USA after the CART/IRL split, multiple highly visible TV outlets for FOTA to stay in the limelight. To name only three broadcasters, ITV, Eurosport and ESPN are all experienced in, and quite capable of, putting an open-wheel show on the air. Eurosport, after all, has already demonstrated affinity for a series outside the sponsorship of the FIA with the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

As to venues, it would be more tedious than difficult to list them all — for present purposes, it is enough to observe the following: France is off the calendar; Great Britain is in danger of the same; there are no races in the Americas save Brazil; Belgium has been on and off the calendar over the past decade; Austria is long gone; the races in Germany and Italy are financially untenable, as is Australia, where Bernie is making the same sort of take it or leave it rumblings with which he bludgeoned Silverstone and Indianapolis off the calendar.

In short, without government support for the venues there, the FIA (via FOM) has priced itself out of everywhere an audience already exists, as opposed to where audiences have to be built up from scratch. There are MULTIPLE internationally/FIA/FIM graded venues in all of those countries, enough that you could have two rounds in many of them. That they may lack the ultra glitz facilities demanded by Ecclestone is of no moment, and probably to the good. Costs will automatically be less for the track owners because they won’t have to continually upgrade to Monaco-style glamour or Sepang-style gigantism.

Put it this way: If Brands Hatch, Assen, Road Atlanta and Philip Island (to say nothing of Silverstone and Indianapolis) are good enough and safe enough for MotoGP or World Superbikes and their national equivalents, FOTA cars will pose no problem. Maybe Long Beach will come back into the schedule, a move long coveted by Ecclestone.

SIXTH: A GPWC has been talked about for so long that it would be surprising if a plan isn’t already in place and ready to execute for next season. The apparent FIA/FOM assumption, complete with ultimatums and dismissive insults, that FOTA has nowhere to go and has no choice but to remain with them, is, therefore, dangerous.

If FOTA has the courage to pull the trigger, they’ll win. Let’s see if they have the guts. I hope so.

5
The Kitchen Cynic

I’m reminded of the drivers’ strike where they bunkered down in a hotel and Elio De Angelis played piano.

Will we have the FOTA team principals locked in a backroom of the BRDC building as midnight approaches?

6

This isn’t a comment as such, and is not for publication, but I’m wondering what I’ve done to offend as I’ve made a couple of comments that you haven’t published in the last few days.

I certainly haven’t intended to cause offence and I don’t think I’ve said anything defamatory about anything or anybody.

I don’t think I’ve ever been blocked from anything in my life, so I am a bit concerned that I’m doing something wrong somewhere.

If you could find the time to drop me an e-mail after the weekend to explain what the problem is, then I can work on wording my comments in a way that makes you able to publish them.

Cheers

Caron

7

Regarding the engines, couldn’t they tune them down? I remember Minardi having tuned down ferrari engines to comply with standards in the past.

8

Amazing, isn’t we all seem to agree, as do the vast majority on other forums.

This really is the one chance the FOTA teams will have to rid themselves of Moseley and at the same time take control of the championship budget.

If they back down now, they will only have themselves to blame when Moselely screws them over again and CVC will continue to take $500m out of the sport every year :

Yes, that really is $500m p.a. ( Source Autosport.com )

How many new teams could FOTA assist for that amount of money ?

9
Fulveo Ballabeo

If the teams blink, they’ll get the governance the deserve (and not the governance they want).

Signing-up u-n-c-o-n-d-i-t-i-o-n-a-l-l-y based upon a future ‘opportunity’ to revisit governance? A fool’s errand. At that point, what leverage have the teams got?

Plus, during his sex scandal, didn’t Mosley say he wouldn’t run for re-election in 2009? Does anyone think it looks like he’s bowing-out and releasing the reins of power? Mosley says what needs to be said to get past the issue of the moment. When he doesn’t follow-through, he deals with it then (or, thanks to short memories, people forget completely: ie- what sex scandal?)

The teams have too often blinked in the past: that’s exactly how they’ve arrived at the (deserved) situation they’re in now. Stick together, however, and they can do what FOCA did with FISA. Blink again, and noone will ever believe they mean business. They’ll get the governance they deserve, and this whole thing will have been a massive waste of everyone’s time.

10

Even if FOTA members hold a meeting at Silverstone and unanimously agree not to blink, do they have sufficient trust in each other not to sign their individual letters ?

Could we find that, say, after the deadline, on last minute legal advice, Ferrari have signed up but nobody else has ?

The position of McLaren looks very exposed here :

I put the chances of their getting back on board in those circumstances as a lot less than zero.

11

“Who will blink first?”

Well.. if FOTA do blink then this entire thing will have been for nothing, and the problems of revenues and governance will be unsolved (which means more wacky FIA decisions in the future, and more favouritism).

FIA punished McLaren 100 million for bringing the sport into disrepute. Ferrari on the other hand, Max said that F1 could survive without Ferrari, took away their veto because they were bringing the sport into disrepute and then FORCED them to join conditionally.

So McLaren get 100 million fine and threatened to be booted in future (if they reoffend), but Ferrari is punished by having their name on an entry list that they don’t want. In other words, Ferrari can’t get booted from F1, even if they TRIED. Where as McLaren are targetted.

I am not a McLaren fan, but even so it’s all a bit silly, and it’s not like these things will dissappear once the teams sign for 2010.

Here is another one.. Max is now the champion of the privateers and wants to bring in new teams with the cap. But up until this season, he was one of the main reasons new teams couldn’t join because of a 50 million entry fee. Now he wants teams to have a team budget that is below the previous entry fee.

12

I am sure I am not the only one who is beginning to feel somewhat alienated by this whole pantomime. I have been a loyal F1 fan since the days of Senna and Mansell, watching the old BBC broadcasts as a fresh faced young boy. Never since then have I felt so disconnected from the sport. We share a bizarre relationship with the teams, unlike football or rugby most of us will never compete in motorsport, save the odd karting day out. We are bound to these teams by passion and fascination and they are in danger of breaking this crucial connection. I have everything crossed that this soap opera will be over soon. I can see both sides of the argument, but they seem to be forgetting our side, the side that wants top flight racing without constant rule changes and the threat of financial ruination. Come on guys, fix up look sharp, to quote a wise wise man. We don’t need another horrible American-esque split series.

13

At around 23.59 hours Friday 19th June after a whole day of gloomy statements of impending doom, a settlement of sorts will be grudgingly agreed and then, with breathtaking insouciance, all will declare that they got precisely what they wanted out of the debate.

Furthermore, each individual team or organisation will claim that their side won hands down…..

Hey ho !… until the next cataclysm !

14

I really do hope this gets sorted out.

James, if Cosworth are allowed to run their engines unrestricted, doesn’t that mean that they will have a huge power advantage? How does their 2006 V8 engine running at 20,000rpm compare to the current 18,000rpm ones?

15

Looks like the FIA is being as reasonable as possible at this late stage, offering a 100M cap for 2010 and removing the two-tier formula, except for Cosworth being allowed to run their engines at maximum revs, possibly an unfair advantage, but anyways… oh yes, removing their pesky mother of all rule makers clause… so Ferrari, so Renault: if you truly don’t want to kill the sport as we know it, it’s time to walk halfway, no matter how outrageous the FIA has been, it’s not an excuse to e outrageous yourselves.

16

Mosley has to go.

Who their right minds signs a contract without agreeing the terms and conditions first? I though he was supposed to be a QC, surely he knows this? I wouldn’t have my driveway resurfaced without first reading the contract, let alone a multi-million multi-year contract.

17

Max Mosley says that there wont be multiple tiers, but surely with unrestricted Cosworth engines there in itself is a seperate tier?

I really hope there is a compromise reached before the end of tomorrow though, and one that doesn’t disadvantage either the newly arriving or the currently active teams. All of the politics and dealing is getting old. I watch Formula One for the racing, not the politics. If I wanted to watch old men arguing all day, I’d change the channel to BBC Parliament.

18

Small Poll,

What will you do if you were Max Mosley?

A) Accept teams new offer and leave at the end of the term.

B) Accept teams new offer but with the condition that teams will support him for a new term.

C) Keep your stance and if teams don’t accept it proceed to fill the spaces and get Ferrari and the Red Bulls to court

Answer this as a reply and I will make the count at the end of the day.

19
The Flying Finn

Guess its over, ball back in FOTA’s court, Max forcing them to prove their unity and trust in each other to push through rule changes after signing up to his rules. And there is no odds long enough for me to make the bet that it would happen! Elegant way to make FOTA guys shoot at each other, now Brawn/RBR/Mac + whoever else .. will sign since of course they will stand by FOTA being able to stick together and push through changes afterwards … even knowing there is zero chance of that happening and they are probably secretly happy with a cap. Note how Ross was certain to be racing next year in the interview from couple days ago?

20

It doesn’t really matter how good Mosley’s ideas are.

That any sport should be run in such an unaccountable manner by just two men is unbelievable in today’s world.
It seems to be little better than the one-man-show Balestre days.

That’s especially so given that the teams – who, as they remind us, pay for the cars, the engines, the drivers, mechanics and designers, and then put on the show – seem to have no formal mechanism for input into the decision-making process other than quiet, behind-the scenes chats or today’s brinkmanship.

F1 really needs to seize this opportunity to bring its decision-making process up to date.

21

James, you’ve mentioned a few times before how people from inside F1 actually read these comments on sites like these to get an idea of what the fans think… well if that is the case then surely FOTA will realise that the true fans are on their side. I’ve read comments from so many people who, like me, seem to think that F1 has become so rotten, due to Max Mosley’s dictatorship and Bernie Ecclestone’s profiteering, that a breakaway championship would effectively be the lesser of two evils.

I know it wouldn’t be perfect at first, and a lot would depend on any FIA/ Ferrari court cases, but in the long term it should be by far the best option. A lot of people are comparing this situation to the CART/ IRL split, but I think those two sides were relatively equal. If FOTA could get all the big races like Monaco on their side once there F1 contracts expire, F1 would have little going for it other than its name.

Of course, it’s easy for us fans to say these things, but far more difficult for the people in charge of the teams, who could put their hundreds of jobs at risk if they make the wrong decision. But if FOTA could just be brave and stand up to Mosley for a little bit longer, hopefully the ‘good guys’ will prevail and we’ll come out the other end of this mess with a true sport, whether it is called F1 or not.

22

What needs to be clearly understood is that Max is offering nothing. He is saying “make a binding commitment to race in 2010, regardless of what the rules end up being, and then if you can get everybody to agree to your rule changes without exception, then the FIA may let you change the rules.” He is saying he does not have the power to change the rules – though this is disingenuous because it must be possible to call together the WMSC and vote through a rule change to allow this.

There is a reasonable chance that Williams would refuse to certain of the rule changes as it would seriously disadvantage them. I would presume that the other new teams might be reluctant to oppose given that there was a promise of technology sharing around.

On the other hand, Max is claiming that he can let Cosworth run with an unlawful engine – he does not have the power to allow that rule change without the sanction of the teams surely? If he thinks he can without the blessing of the teams, then he can make any other rule changes if he so wishes. If I were FOTA, I would make it clear that they would not sanction such a rule change and no FOTA team will supply engines to new teams under the existing rules. How many entries would Max have then?

I don’t see how the teams can sign up unconditionally – I think they will be forced to withdraw or give in to the rules.

There is another nasty sting in the rules on engines. Brawn do not have an engine supply for next year, and the budget for engines for 2010 outside the cap is only for those with an existing engine supply agreement. Brawn could be seriously disadvantaged under the budget cap vs. the other teams.

23

There are two things which I don’t agree with!

1. Cosworth running unrestricted.
This will mean that the rules are not equal for everybody.

2. breaches of the budget cap rules would be ‘financial against a pre-agreed formula.’
This means that anyone can spend as much as they want. Because there is only a financial penalty, competitors can run in cars developed with huge amounts of money and can become world champion, and have an unfair advantage to someone running in a car developed within the budgetcap.

24

How can there be just one tier of rules when some teams will be running an engine based on 2006 specifications and unrestricted at that too? If this is not a logical contradiction then square circles exist.

25

Who will blink first?

Presumably sponsors, (or fans), followed by those teams most dependant on sponsors and fans.

If the Red Bull pair, and Brawn are convinced that Mosley’s is a bluff worth calling, then so will the manufacturers.

But I don’t remember Max ever blinking first in such a situation before….

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