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Manufacturer breakaway threat grows
Manufacturer breakaway threat grows
Posted By:   |  12 Jun 2009   |  6:45 pm GMT  |  71 comments

It’s been an intense day of statements and announcements. In all cases reading between the lines has been necessary.

After the FIA’s announcement of the entries for 2010 this morning came Ferrari’s swift, calm but strong reaction, then FOTA’s threat to issue a dossier listing all the things that are wrong with the way F1 is run. FOTA sources refuse to say on what day this dossier will be issued.

The day ended with the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) suggesting, again between the lines, that not only would it apply pressure on the FIA to look at the conduct of its president in the way he conducts the FIA’s regulatory business, but also suggested that if it did not get satisfaction that it would pursue the idea of a breakaway.

“Today, the members of the Board of the European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association discussed the current situation prevailing in Formula 1, and have concluded that the current governance system cannot continue.

“ACEA has come to the conclusion that the FIA needs a modernised and transparent governance system and processes, including the revision of its constitution, to ensure the voice of its members, worldwide motorsport competitors and motorists are properly reflected.

“The ACEA members support the activities and objectives of the Formula One Teams’ Association to establish stable governance, clear and transparent rules which are common to all competitors to achieve cost reductions including a proper attribution of revenues to the F1 teams, in order to deliver a sustainable attractive sport for the worldwide public.

“Unless these objectives are met, the BMW, Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Toyota along with the other teams are determined to find an alternative way to practice this sport in a manner which provides clarity, certainty of rules and administration, and a fair allocation of revenues to the competing teams. ”

This last line is the crucial one – that can be said of a lot of today’s statements, the mots interesting stuff is buried at the end (the opposite of the way a new story should be written!)

FIA sources are suggesting that the two sides actually aren’t as far apart as the picture given by all these statements suggests and that it is a couple of hardliners within the manufacturers’ group who are making the noise.

Ferrari are the crown jewels in this tug of war and they continue to align themselves with the other manufacturers. The FIA believe they have them under contract, Ferrari insist they are not.

The ACEA statement moves the story on quite a bit. Tomorrow at Le Mans, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo will hold a press conference.

He has some lines prepared, I understand.

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If FOTA form a new series then they will probably form a company to handle the tv and circuit rights, let call it FOTA Ltd. Then that company will need some capitalisation in order to exist, run itself, have an office, telephone, pay staff, accountants etc.

The company would give itself rights to the proceeds from the series fro a time period….. Sounding familiar yet??

It’s no good expecting a new series to be formed as a hobby by teams having a bit of a meeting in a bar now and then. It has to have a legal and solid basis, with some very strict rules about the future ownership of the rights and who writes the rules for the sport.
Now if you follow this to it’s obvious conclusion you end up with a company handling the rights, promotion etc and a committee or board making the rules. But you don’t want the possibility of the control of either of those being passed to an outside the group (FOTA Group LTd) so a communal golden share must be written in from the start, with no possibility of it ever being changed.

Once you look into it, the path to end up as we are now, with an insider (team principle handling the promotion and rights) becoming an outsider and then owning all the rights by means of various company manipulations and an outrageous give away for 100 years. We (they) would have to be careful not to go down the same logical path as before, it would be all to easy.


Absolutely loving the manufactures approach, any breakaway series would have 3 ready made races in Monaco, Montreal and Silverstone. Totally had enough with the Stalinesque rule that the teams have endured over the years, the powers that be have run F1 to suit their own interests for far too long. Now Ferrari and the others are showing them who’s box office.


I love F1, have done for 20 years, but…

THIS IS SO ******* DULL!

(not your writing James, that’s brilliant. I mean the whole bloody mess)

Dennis Dithmar

Well now it must be clear that this is a direct fight against Max Mosley and his methodes in the FIA. FOTA has appealed directly to the senate and the WMSC to stop Max and his methodes. ACEA has made it clear what fight is about to be fought.

Hence that it is now important for us fans to show where we stand. If you are a supporter of FOTA and initatives to stop Max Mosley, please show your support here:

“Support FOTA against Mosley” on Facebook –

Sign the petition “We support FOTA” –

This is very important, as the fans are the true base of this sport. We need to show where we stand.


You are so right TOM . At no time in any of the discussion’s by FIA has there ever been the line “we are doing this for the fans.”or “this is what the fans asked for”


I believe I’m quite unpopular in this belief, but surely all of this just demonstrates that Max was right? He’s been commenting for some years that the road car manufacturers’ interests and those of F1 did not coincide; that they could come and go as they chose (and had done so in the past).

It is a basic mistake to believe that road car manufacture has anything very much in common with F1 racing any longer. You might as well have a fighter jet manufacturer competing in F1 – the technology transfer would be more valid. For the manufacturers, it is purely a marketing tool – the old “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” mantra.

But the road car manufacturers – like much of the global economy – are in deep doo-doo right now. Of course they’d like a larger share of the revenues (in return for no risk, of course), because it turns F1 into cheap marketing for them. But why is that in the interests of the sport? How does that ensure a healthy pool of proper racing teams to keep competing beyond the end of the current marketing budget? Frankly, how does that help Williams and their ilk?

As I say, I believe Max – in this one instance, at least – has been right. F1 needs to find a path which allows it to exist with or without the road car manufacturers’ involvement. In the current economic climate, this must be by limiting costs, whilst at the same time increasing technological freedom to encourage experimentation and progress.

Perhaps, like Blair or Brown, Mosley is the wrong person to deliver such change (or at least the wrong person to try to build consensus), but – just as with the issue of constitutional change in the UK – the arguments in favour of radical change are, I believe, compelling and irrefutable.

The bottom line? F1 needs to shrink its budgets, remove the road car manufacturers from positions of influence, and re-kindle the flame of genuine technological development (as opposed to the false aero war). Then it will survive.

Sadly, it may take a breakaway series to show that the current F1 path is the right one 🙁


There’s an old saying which goes “always follow the money” and in this debacle it is the teams that invest, spend and generate all of it. I believe that the FIA need them much more than they need the FIA and I’m sure that Bernie (who fully understands the “follow” principal) will set up races and TV rights for whoever pays him.

My personal view is that these protracted arguments and even the formation of a breakaway series will prove to have been entirely worth the pain IF they bring about the downfall of the derisible Mosely regime.


Wjilst I sympatise with the teams that sympathy will dry up if they wreck the sport I love. Williams are an F1 team, no matter what happens they are commited to the sport and the fans, I think the other teams need to take a leaf out of their book and consider how much damage could be done to the greatest show on earth. I believe that neither a breakaway series nor a continution of F1 minus the legendary teams will be worth watching. It’s a pitty I don’t like MotoGP that much haha.


‘Ferrari’s swift, calm but strong reaction’
‘Ferrari are the crown jewels in this tug of war’…
I take it you’re throwing your hat in with Ferrari!
Maybe, I’m missing something but I just think Ferrari are screwing up F1.
Without the caps F1 will lose a team or two a year until it dies.
Ferrari think they ‘own’ F1 – they don’t.
If Ferrari think they can run a successful series – and if the other teams think they can be trusted to run a series – get on with it.
Meanwhile, James, how about splitting the RSS in to two – one for people who like motor racing and another for people more interested in posturing and lawyers…


Max has been telling all who would listen (and those who don’t want to!) that the Manufacturer CEO’s would force their sporting teams to accept the FIA cuts/measures and that some were privately giving him their support & yet here we are all of those very European CEO’s have issued a statement against him!


Does the irony not dawn on Max that his budget cap plans seem to be having exactly the effect that he said not having a budget cap would have – ie teams leaving F1?

Right at the start he said costs are unsustainable and if they aren’t brough down teams would leave. Probably true, but due to the way he has chose to bring down costs today many more teams are closer than ever to leaving than they would have been had he done nothing!

I really hope someone backs down soon, or a compromise postion is found as it’s starting to look very bad.


James, have you an opinion on whether you’d like to see budget caps vs cost-reduced F1?


What amazes me is that throughout this whole FOTA-FIA-FOM CVC have yet to be seriously mentioned. It is suprising that FOTA haven’t made more of CVC draining so much cash out of the sport, which is causing so many of the problems the sport is currently experiencing. At the end of the day Bernie is pretty harmless, he’s only trying to make as much for his employer as he can.


On paper a breakaway manufacturer’s championship may be a good thing. In a previous post James has intimated that there could be 8 teams with 3 cars each making it a creditable grid of 24 cars. That’s for next season. However, could a situation like the DTM emerge whereby eventually we are wittled down to a grid of just 16 cars or so with the only manufacturers present being Ferrari and Mercedes? Ferrari’s number 1 driver would be Alonso and Mercedes would be Hamilton. All other drivers would have to race around their needs. Life would also be made easier for Alonso and Hamilton because over half their teammates are in one year old or two year old cars. The cars would be technologically very advanced but the races in effect would be demonstration runs. This would not be a championship for independents.
Everyone states how good Moto GP is at present but lets not forget that grid sizes in this series are even smaller than F1.
Hopefully commonsense will prevail over the next week and there will be just one world championship with some manufacturers and plenty of new teams to make up a grid of 26 cars. The consequences of two world championships do not bear thinking about….



the big question I would like to ask you if there is a breakaway series which champion will appear on the front cover of Autocourse at the end of the year? Will it be the F1 World Champion or the FOTA champion?
Personally I think too many people are putting too much faith in the manufacturers. It only takes a new cheif exec to be appointed who is not that keen on F1 for a manufacturer to pull out. The manufacturers surely have bigger concerns than F1 right now.
If there is a breakaway series how long will it be before Ferrari start complaining if they are not winning. It would appear that their strategy in F1 is to win at all costs regardless of sporting fair play. The revelation about their extra money and veto rights and the unusual steward decisions from last year cannot be ignored. Nor can Nigel Stepney’s comments concerning traction control use at the start of this century. And in a dossier from FOTA about what’s wrong with the sport will reference be made of Benetton’s illegal use of traction control in the mid – 90s. These are all inconvenient truths that are rarely discussed because of the damage it would cause to the sport.
Finally many people want full technical freedom.
Does anyone remember the 1992 World Championship when Nigel Mansell won in a Williams in what was probably the most technically advanced car ever (active suspension, traction control, etc)? Providing his car never broke down he would win. Tighter regulations more often than not leads to better racing because no single car has a significant advantage. At the end of the day most people are interested in drivers rather than cars.


Hi James,
Surely the Indycar split in America demonstrates to anyone who bothers to take note that a split would do untold damage to the sport. Fans are not interested who wins the battle of the egos between FOTA and the FIA.

As a fan I want to see the best teams and the best drivers racing each other in one series. I want to know that Jenson Button won the world champsionship because he beat Raikkonen, Alonso, Vettel, Massa, Hamilton, Webber etc. It would be a shame to think well he won the FOTA world series, but so and so won the F1 World Championship, so maybe he was the best, but then again…

The CART world series was a really strong, competitive series prior to the split. After 10 years, NASCAR had established itself as the premier form of racing, and you bascially had a unification out of necessity as both series had lost a lot of fans, and were close to going broke.

So my message to the powers that be is this: Without the fans you wouldn’t be circling the world in your private jets, or mooring your yatch in Monte Carlo. So give the fans what we want. We don’t care about your egos, we care about racing. You are all custodians of the sport, you don’t own it, so do the right thing, put your egos aside and sort it out. There’ll be no winners in a split.


I think the ACEA entering into the fray is the best thing that’s happened since Brawn showed their stuff this passed winter.
There’re alot of people in F1 that have hugely contributed to the sport over the last fifty years. Some are still in it, some have left us, and some just quit for one reason or another.
As far as people who have contributed to the sport, they are legion. Max Mosley is not among them in my opinion. Constantly changing the regulations, number of cylanders, displacement, Rpm limits, etc. have cost untold fortunes, and the manufacturers are the ones who bore the costs.
Then there are the tires. Oh, bitch’n. Grooves. Better yet let’s make’em run two different tires in the race. Contrived excitement. Better still let’s make’em run two way different tires, that’ll add even more excitement. Contrived even moreso.
Don’t let’em do anything that might be useful in everyday cars, like better mileage, active susension, enviormentally friendlier fuels, computer assisted braking.
I realize that some of these things detract from the skill requirements of the drivers, but with the drivers we now have in the sport and the ones waiting in the wings, we’ll still be able to watch the best the world has to offer, no matter what the manufactureres come up with.
I think the manufacturers are the future of the sport, and hope VW, Porsche, Peugot, and Ford and GM will eventually enter, or support existing teams wholeheartedly.
This is a sport that has the highest technology on 4 wheels, and unless it has a direct payoff to the public, it’s really of little real use.
Bernie has done alot for the sport, but he should never have been allowed to own the name, or the series for ten years, let alone 100. It’s time that he started his retirement. Let CVC try to come up with a way to save their bacon, without ruining the sport.
Personally I would prefer that the teams setup a new series and as far as I concerned they can call it ‘ZIPPY CARS AND ZIPPY DRIVERS With Real Bright Colored Outfits and Real Cool Shades and Watches’ if they want. I’m interested in the racing. I’m sick of Mosley and Eccelstone plundering the sport and selling it to the highest bidder regardless of what the fans want, not to mention what they can afford.
This appears to bethe brink, and I would like to see the continuance of Formula 1 under any name, but run bythe teams collectively, through their own organization along with their supporting backers. I don’t care who wins as long as the playing fiels is level, and everyone is giving it thier own best shot.


Completely agree with Alex on this. It would definitely be a shame to lose Ferrari. Wouldn’t bother me in the slightest to see the others go. F1 was better on almost every level before it became dominated by the manufacturers.

And as an American fan, I find it frankly stupefying that people believe a rival series will work. It was a disaster when CART and the IRL split; the best teams went to one series, the best venues went to the other. I see no reason to believe the same won’t happen here. Ferrari would beat up the other FOTA teams on a small number of ex-F1 tracks, while the smaller teams fight it out at Monza, Spa, Suzuka, and the other top tracks.

Bottom line, I can’t imagine McLaren, Brawn and Red Bull would actually jump out of F1 at this stage. McLaren and Brawn would quickly cease to exist, and I suspect they know this.


I am a relative novice to F1 and follow other sports. However, despite the increased interest generated by a supposed no-hoper in Brawn leading the field this year, the whole season will always carry a huge asterix as the year “in which the rules were unclear”. No other sport seems to suffer from such an apparent conflict of interest and the damage being done is absolutely terrible. Dedicated fans are being pushed away, so god only knows what the effect is on newcomers or potential newcomers to the sport. I was seriously interested in F1 as a child, switched off during the Schumi years and then returned recently. I watched the 07 and 08 seasons and waited with great excitement for each and every race. This season, I fell asleep after the first round of pit stops at Monaco and Turkey and the politics are driving me further away. It’s getting worse… how can the people in charge not see that.

Yes, costs need to be cut… but if the people who really make F1 what it is, e.g. Ferrari, Mclaren, et al, don’t feel that way… why is this being forced upon them. Why not focus cost cutting on the fan experience. If the price was comparable to watching a football match for example, demand from the average Joe would be significantly higher than it is now and there wouldn’t be stories of flagging attendances accompanying each race.

Max and Bernie have a very simple job to do… look after the elements that make the sport what it is – the manufacturers and the fans. After that, the rest will fall into place.


Idea for MAX

Since he is so concerned about small and individual team, who can survive only if he impose a cap of 40 million

i just that he selects 11 teams from the 15 fresh application he has got and also he has williams and force india. he can run the whole championship with new teams

Let FOTA start there break away series . and race where ever they want.

Well to be frank, i see F1 for the technological and the other advance things they do. i am not interested in a bunch of cars goings around a track every two weeks

MAX get a life dude, u totally look gay along with frank and vijay


f1 is dead or Max is dead. That is where this is heading. Max has pushed the wrong button this time and unless the teams get what they want, next years world championship will be a pathetic one engine championship, which will rival gp2, technology will be as old as the hills, and the real reason we follow and love f1 has gone. There will be no innovation, there will be no attraction nothing. F1 is a name and popular, but f1 is nothing without FOTA. F1 has been promoted by the teams and teams only, now to be shafted the way they have, is wrong. Campos, Prodrive, USf1 will all fail without these teams, Max knows it, bernie knows it and CVC knows it.

F1 is and has always been show business, the money in the sport is from direct investment of the teams which also attract the money not only to the f1 brand, but to the tracks, merchandise, fans etc etc. Now without the likes of the FOTA memeber and drivers how do you expect f1 to survive. I cannot see how both Bernie and CVC will allow the teams to walk away. There needs to be a nice carrot for them to stay. The FIA can argue they can make the rules and they are encouraged by these new teams, but what is going to keep these new teams in the sport, when tv revenue disappears, viewers leave, sponsorships disappear, these teams have nothing. This is the FIA’s fault.

I cannot understand when you have 8 of the current 10 teams in f1 saying these rules suck, we want these rules, and yet for the sake of 3 new teams, they persist with the stupid rules.

This has frustrated me and i hope F1 dies, max disappears and a new championship is formed.

James do you know if any of the tv networks have called bernie or the contracted tracks called bernie regarding this. Shorley he would be in breach of several contract if these teams are no competing next year.


I can understand the team’s demand for stability in terms of rules. But it does seem the real demand here is money. To me it seems Max is really nothing but a barrier to the real decision maker, that is Bernie.

Bernie is the one who will decide on the money right, so Max’s position has just been about rules and regulations and entry to next season.

This public feud is just to make Bernie give in to the team’s demands, or at least placate them? The teams that want to leave will do so, while the others will be given a fair deal.

Is it me or is all the threats and possibility of Ferrari + the others leaving, just smoke and mirrors.


The trouble is I remember F1 without Mercedes (until 94),Toyota (until 2001), Without BMW (87 to 2000). Even without Renault (87/88 and 98 to 2000).

So if they all want to go off again. Fine. They are not going to spend the money setting up their own series when they are all making multiple billion dollar losses.

And what of other manufacturers that have stayed away from F1 because it was prohibitively expensive (e.g. VW)? Give it a few years and the new GM or Ford will have marketing budgets particularly if USF1 shows progress.


All I hope is FOTA stick together all it will take is one of these teams to walk and it’s all over there is power in numbers.
Surely the tv,sponsors,track owners must be going absolutely crazy the money they have invested is huge yet the whole lot could go up in smoke at what point do they step in or has bernie gagged them as well.
By the way who else is on the FIA or is it just mosley anyone know?


A chain will always break at the weakest link.

So far that link looked to be somewhere within FOTA, but now there is considerable stress being applied to the FIA link (ie Max). Whether it remains there, remains to be seen but one thing is for sure, sooner rather than later, something or someone’s gonna’ cave.

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