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F1 – What's going on now?
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Jul 2009   |  9:08 pm GMT  |  69 comments

It took Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier several high profile bouts to settle their differences and it seems that we are in for a rematch of Max Mosley’s FIA vs Luca di Montezemolo’s FOTA; a heavyweight showdown, just when we all thought things had been sorted out.

There may not be a catchy title to this bout, such as the “Thriller in Manilla”, but you certainly wouldn’t call this weekend’s scrap, set for the Nurburgring, “A mere trifle in the Eiffel”.

This is serious and FOTA have responded to being informed that its eight teams are not entered in next year’s championship with the line that this could put the future of F1 in jeopardy.

It’s been an odd week in F1, with the Bernie Ecclestone/Hitler stuff and now this. Non-F1 people I speak to in the media and public consider the sport as a bit of a pantomime. But I think it’s deadly serious and it has to do with money.

I noted that CVC were ‘shocked’ by Bernie’s comments but supportive of his apology, but I cannot imagine they are very happy about today’s development.

The document offering the debt on F1 to interested parties suggested that the new Concorde Agreement had been agreed and that the teams would all sign up during 2007. Here we are two years later and it has not been signed. That has to be creating some real pressure.

Part of the ‘peace deal’ agreed on June 24th was for the FOTA teams to commit to FOM until 2012. If the FIA considers them not to be entered in the championship, then one wonders where this commitment stands and the absence of eight key teams, including Ferrari, must threaten F1’s business model.

CVC is the venture capital company who hold 75% of the equity in F1’s commercial rights holder, which is subject to a debt of over $2 billion. It is felt that pressure from them led to the ‘peace agreement’ between FOTA and the FIA a few days after the British Grand Prix.

But almost immediately that deal started to unravel. First we had FOTA’s hubris at ‘beating’ Mosley, delight that he was quitting in October, accusations that he was a ‘dictator’, suggestions that the next FIA president should be ‘independent’. Since then there has been a steady drip of insinuation about the FIA’s Alan Donnelly and his role in the approval of new teams. We have also had suggestions that the new teams were obliged to sign up for Cosworth engines, as the Northampton firm had indicated that they needed three teams to make their F1 engine programme viable.

The FIA acted last night with a warning that unanimity would be required when finalising the 2010 rules and that would mean the non-FOTA teams, including the three new teams, seeing eye to eye with the existing teams.

I’m travelling at the moment to Germany, so I’m going to have to do some digging around tomorrow to find out what has motivated this latest move. But it looks set to push the FOTA teams back towards their previously suggested plan of a breakaway. If they are not entered in next year’s F1 championship then presumably they are free agents, unless they are now caught by commercial contracts obliging them to find a solution with the FIA.

FOTA believe that the deal struck in Paris on June 24th meant that they were entered in the championship (an entry list was published with their names on it) and that they had carte blanche to agree the 2010 rules themselves, which would then be rubber stamped by the FIA.

The shock of today’s news is that this appears not to be the case. I can’t wait to find out what this turn-around is based on.

The FOTA teams walked out of technical working group meeting at the Nurburgring today and a statement this afternoon shows their exasperation,

“As endorsed by the WMSC and clearly stated in the FIA press statement of 24 June ‘the rules for 2010 onwards will be the 2009 regulations as well as further regulations agreed prior to 29 April 2009’. At no point in the Paris discussions was any requirement for unanimous agreement on regulations change expressed. To subsequently go against the will of the WMSC and the detail of the Paris agreement puts the future of Formula 1 in jeopardy.”

Off to the Eiffel mountains we go then, into another weekend of great uncertainty.

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1

this has to end the whole f1 “cvil war” this has shown how max is trying to kill a great that once was and also shows the fota group try to do something right for the fan like me and everyone else but just for sake of the sport the fota should just leave and make there own “f1” series.

2

I do wonder if there was in-season testing the teams and managers would be too busy to get involved in these arguments. Anyhow I’ve lost interest in the 2009 season and no longer get excited at Sunday lunchtime, if I even bother to watch the races. As for the future, from what I understand there were premier motorsport categories before 1950, which then fed into the official championship. So change wouldn’t be a bad thing. But we are going to Monza for the first time in September, which I’m really looking forward to and looking forward to tasting the food of Italy.

3

Could we ever return to the time when F1 was about cars, drivers, engines and racing?

Back in the 1960s, I don’t think the most fervent fan could name three team principals, but could rattle off the names of everyone who’d driven in F1 since it started.

Probably the politics went on, but we rarely heard about it; just enjoyed the racing.

4

Gotta say I just love all this! So much more entertaining than watching the cars follow each other around the track! Guys, breakaway please, so that Jacques Villeneuve can come back and win another title in the FIA World Championship while we in North America will get our FOTA Grande Epreuves back at Indianapolis and Montreal!

5

The sooner the FOTA teams together with any other interested teams get out from under the cloud of the FIA and set up an alternative series the better.

Its beyond question that a senior FIA official via his own comapny has been involved in procuring sponsorship and or funding for the Manor team.

The FIA has once again shown itself to be morally bankrupt, FOTA should distance itself from them post haste and recommense their plans for a new series. Max has broken promise after promise and shown that his word is not worth the breath its spoken with.

6

If the FIA insist that Ferrari & Red Bull have contracts to race next year & so were entered for the season unconditionally, how come now, suddenly they aren’t allowed a voting right in rules discussions as they’re not yet entered next season?! It’s ridiculous.
On the plus side, I’d guess that it’s another argument that Ferrari will use to support their case, should they race elsewhere next season.

7

So we’re back to square one. Max refuses to go because he was called a dictator. FIA again demanding that FOTA signs before negotiations can take place. With nothing guaranteed. Except this time we know how Bernie feels about dictatorships. Both of them part of the problem.

To quote again from the song, “Give me the good news”: “You can’t use force to sell a promise; Dictatorship was never honest . . .”

8

Too many egos.

Not a smidgen of common-sense, let alone a microscopic amount of respect for the fans.

I am totally sick of the way the sport is being played with by rich men as if it were some toy that they can kick around at will.

Enough is enough.

Max and Bernie are out of touch with what F1 SHOULD be … it really is time to move on and to bring in a totally new management team.

9

Now just imagine if FOTA had gone along with Mosley’s suggestion of ‘join and the we’ll work on the rules’. It’s quite clear now that there would’ve been no discussion. The FIA are an embarassment to the sport. Hopefully the CVC will show some muscle and do something to sort this out. Also, I think Bernie and Max are past their sell by date.

10

Luca struts…Bernie stumbles…and Max moonwalks…right back to where he was…(the illusion of moving forward while actually going backwards).

As much as I support FOTA, the thought of losing the F1 moniker, all the history, heritage and romance that goes with it saddened me, or rather it did until this mess blew up again….Walk away FOTA, walk away quickly and we will follow.

Once upon a time Max and Bernie were good for F1, and so was tobacco.

One toxic poison down, two to go.

btw… The smartest thing Hitler did was blow his brains out.

11

FIA – Not fit for purpose.

The whole bust-up is about Max and his ego.

On the face of it, the June agreement was a big loss for Max, and the consequent crowing (by Luca & many journalists) will not have gone down well.

However, the agreement reached was one that Max was never capable of honouring. There are 3 teams brought in under the guise of there being a budget-cap; 2 teams forced to play and choosing a budget cap. And there are the FOTA 8 which reached a different agreement, with no budget cap.

Max *knew* that these agreements were not compatible, and knew he had his opportunity to stoke a new disagreement, setting FOTA against the other 3, with Williams and FI caught in the middle. It is all deliberate, and planned for back in June.

The FIA, and Max, know they can bend & alter rules when necessary to reach compromises. When you see a situation where they refuse to do so, on some silly point of order, then you know that either Max’s ego is getting in the way again, or that he’s setting things up to make a power play somewhere.

I reckon FOTA will now not only stand by the principle that they cannot deal with FIA while Moseley is involved at all (as president, *or* on the senate) and, possibly, Donnelly too. I’d also expect them to now come out and say that explicitly and publicly. They will probably put the onus on the WMSC, either asking them to ask for his resignation or to censure him under the codes for disrepute. That is probably the only thing that will stop a breakway in this.

Bernie and CVC? We’ve already seen their colours – so I expect them to be demanding Max’s head too.

I honestly don’t expect to see F1 survive with Moseley still in FIA. He’s made it impossible.

12

“Don’t you adore how hotly contested the Biggest Fascist in Formula One title is? It’s quite the most exciting bit of the “sport”.” [ Marina Hyde, Guardian, July 9 ]

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2009/jul/09/bernie-ecclestone-adolf-hitler-formula-one

13

Im kinda tired of “the fans are sick of this” line. If fans are REALLY sick and tired of the off track politics then they should all get together and protest by either a) not going to any races or b) have a demonstration in the stands during quali and the race. Get the TV attention etc and put pressure on both the FIA and FOTA to sort it out.

Remember that all these multi millionaires can argue and spat with each other all they want, but its the people that buy the tickets , go to the races and buy merchandise that really control the sport.

If i was a newspaper editor my papers headline today would read:

“F1 to end in a FOTA finish”

14

I’m worn out with it James. Make MM and BE stop it! Any chance you could ask the drivers on Sunday whose fault they think this mess is?

15

Enough is enough.

Mosley is making a laughing stock of our sport. The fans are the biggest losers in all of this.

FOTA should go it alone.

16

It’s getting ridiculous. FIA are acting like like stupid idiots. FOTA acting like babies in response. I am getting to the point when I don’t even want to watch F1 this year, let alone next year. Might just watch Superleague Formula instead.

17

“Max, Bernie, FIA, whoever, are playing games hoping to leave it impossibly late for a breakaway series to be set up and then have what they want (whether its holidng on to position, controlling contracts, etc.).”

Yes, this is what I think they are doing !

18

Anyone else getting deja vu? I don’t like being stuck in Max, Luca and Bernie’s groundhog day…

19

I said before that Max was offering the teams nothing in his negotiations – he has always held to the position that he cannot change the rules, nor can the teams, so any agreement for a conditional entry was beyond his power to offer. He of course, set that up deliberately by publishing a set of rules that did not have consensus.

What I don’t understand is why he thinks it was acceptable to drag the whole of the WMSC into the mire, where they have passed a clear resolution that the item was resolved in a particular way. They are either incompetent – passing resolutions that they do not have the power to enforce, or Max was deliberately deceptive in allowing such an agreement to pass.

My guess is that Max decided to allow himself to be bullied into the June 24th statement with the clear intent of reneging on the deal, and his hissy fit about some name calling was his cover for “changing his mind” – if name calling was really important to him he would remember he has at least two outstanding apologies – “Loony Flavio” and “certified half-wit Jackie Stewart”.

What interests me is whether the teams now have carte blanche to walk away with no hope of legal redress for FOM. Ferrari were entered against their will, and now have been excluded against their will. How can FOM sue Ferrari for not entering when their entry was denied by the FIA after a clear statement from the WMSC that they were entered? FOM should be suing the FIA.

20

I can`t believe , this is happening for real…

I thought about it, and if F1 will fall, then in a long term, maybe in couple of years, some will say , that it happend because of 2008-2009 financial crisis. But people who love this sport will always bear in mind, that was only war of two big EGO`S.
Well, for me, this is not the argument, for putting 60 years of history to trash can.
9.7.2009 is a sad day.

21

James, I’d really appreciat explanation of discrepancies between WMSC decision, Mosley’s letter and FOTA’s accusation of what Charlie Whiting said….

22

I had a long day yesterday, getting up at 0330 and not returning home until 2130 – lovely meals in Paris. Good old Eurostar. After reading the news online I was aghast. Both Ecclestone and Mosley seemingly intent on destroying F1.

I got up this morning hoping, as you do, that it wasn’t as bad as I first thought. And I was spot on. It is considerably worse.

As MrExasperated (is that your real name?) said: it would appear that this is a concerted effort by Mosley to remove the manufacturers’ teams from the sport.

I can see no other conclusion.

And for Ecclestone, I can come to no other conclusion than that this is a concentrated effort to remove F1 from Europe.

The suggestion by Kenny that Whiting was embarrassed just makes things worse. He’ll be rememberd now, at least by me, as the man whose first thought was not for F1 and was party to its betrayal.

The FiA is the regulator. It has no other function beyond that. It does not ‘own’ F1. Indeed, if Ari V does put himself forward and is supported by the AAA and the German AC, amongst, probably, others, and then some bloke with a lived in fact and a girly name gets in courtesy of Arab countries and some African states, then I can see it being the end of the FiA’s influence on other motoring matters around the world.

American car manufacturers are suffering at the moment and the FiA is the last bulwark against protectionism. Just the time to risk all, Mosley.

Someone earlier asked if the Teams expected to dictate the rules. The answer is that they, of course, have much more right to that the FiA, the function of which is just the judge and jury, of a sort anyway. Their input should be minimal.

It is handy to have a separate organistion to stop the normal bickering, but the final arbiters should be those who pay for the sport. And as for pinning things down, look to the FiA’s own press release, on their official website, re the conclusions – nothing iffy about what was agreed – of the meeting of the 24 June. Just three weeks ago. It was, as is apparent in the press release, a conclusion. A gentlemen’s agreement as, it seems, nothing was signed.

A freind of mine was a party to a sponsorship deal with his company and McLaren. He said, after years of corporative legalities, that when Dennis agreed something you felt – and quite correctly as it turned out – that it would be honoured. He said it was like a breath of fresh air.

Bit of a fug at the FiA.

23

A simple question.

Some weeks ago, the FIA published the entry list which included Ferrari and Red Bull as definite entries, not provisional like their FOTA colleagues. Now the FIA is saying none of the FOTA teams including the two just mentioned are entered. Max, please explain…

P.S. Vote Ari !!!

24

James

Question for a future posting (I hope)…

What is the penalty if a team decide not to race? (ie, they choose not to take to the track)

I’m assuming it’s an absolutely enormous penalty against their rights money?

Thanks
Paul

25

Sick and tired of all this. Again!!
If this is what F1 has become then it can’t die soon enough. I ever wanted to watch egotistical, dumb and spoilt men behavind like 5 year olds on a playground I’d be watching PM Question Time on Wednesdays… The “F1” brand as these people like to refer to it has been turned into a sad joke in 2009.

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