There are a few interesting threads around today. The Times has an extraordinary interview with F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone where he explores the theme of ‘dictators’.
Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo recently implied that FIA president Max Mosley was a dictator and Bernie sets out here to defend the breed as people who ‘get things done’.
“Politicians are too worried about elections, ” he says. “We did a terrible thing when we supported the idea of getting rid of Saddam Hussein, he was the only one who could control that country.
Warming to his theme, Bernie tackles the sensitive subject of Hitler, “In the end he got lost so he wasn’t a very good dictator. Either he knew what was going on and insisted, or he just went along with it — either way he wasn’t a dictator.”
Meanwhile I keep hearing stories about the new teams struggling to come to terms with the fact that the F1 they will be entering next year is not the same as the F1 they have signed up to. They came in on the basis of £40 million budget cap and two tier rules which allowed their Cosworth engines to run at higher revs than the other engines and gave them some aerodynamic advantages too.
Although the deal struck between FOTA and the FIA last week will mean that F1 budgets will be dramatically reduced, it will still not be anywhere near the £40 million next year which was originally on the table. The idea is to get down in 2011 to the budget levels of the early 1990s, which was around £40 million without the engine costs, which were at least that much again.
John Booth, team principal of Manor, one of the new entrants, is quoted today in his local paper, the Yorkshire Post as saying, “”Hopefully, it should become clearer in the next couple of weeks. There does seem an intention from all concerned to get the costs under control. We have only been planning to join formula one for the last five or six months. Over the years it has not been feasible, you had to be a multi, multi-millionaire to even consider it.”
Meanwhile Manor is currently the subject of some controversy regarding the involvement of FIA chief steward Alan Donnelly in the team’s F1 entry.
According to the Guardian, Manor already has VIrgin as a 20% shareholder and Donnelly was working on finding further equity partners and sponsorship for the team in Saudi Arabia. The paper reveals details of a leaked email to illustrate the point. The email was allegedly sent on on 29 May, two weeks before the FIA announced the three successful new teams.
This is part of what looks like quite a systematic attack on Donnelly, following on from the stories about him lobbying teams in Turkey, particularly Ross Brawn’s to leave FOTA’s proposed breakaway and sign up to the FIA world championship.
It would appear that the tactic is both to undermine Donnelly and his FIA role by alleging conflicts of interest and possibly to force an enquiry into the process by which the entries for 2010 were made, with a view to getting the process re-run.
It’s all part of the ‘great game’; the battle between FOTA and Mosley.