F1 Winter Break
Todt to seek better deal for the FIA
Todt to seek better deal for the FIA
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Apr 2011   |  7:20 am GMT  |  107 comments

Although he feels that Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley have done a very good job in the past, getting Formula 1 to the point where it is today, as one of the world’s leading sports series, FIA president Jean Todt says he must focus the FIA’s efforts on what F1 needs to be in the future.

And, 15 months into his first term as president, he doesn’t rule out running for a second term of office.

On Friday I went to FIA headquarters in Paris where Todt gave a rare interview to the Financial Times. My FT colleague Roger Blitz and I spoke with Todt for almost two hours. The resulting articles are published in today’s paper.

It was a wide ranging discussion, with topics including the next Concorde Agreement, whether CVC are looking to sell, Bernie Ecclestone’s criticsm of Todt’s FIA administration as a “joke”, the 100 year agreement between the FIA and FOM and an EU request for the FIA to run an electric car championship.

What is very clear is that he plans to robustly fight for the best interests of the FIA, in the same way as he fought – often controversially – for Ferrari’s interests in his 16 years at the helm of the Scuderia. He wears a different hat now, but his modus operandi is the same.

On Bernie Ecclestone’s criticism of him
In the Daily Express newspaper last week, Ecclestone launched a stinging criticism of Todt, calling him “a poor man’s Max,” and attacking the greener engine rules for F1 from 2013 onwards,

“He has been travelling around the world doing what Max didn’t do too much – kissing the babies and shaking the hands, ” said Ecclestone. “It is probably good for the FIA but we don’t need it in Formula 1. We should write the rules with the teams. The competitors have got to race and have got a big investment. We have got a big investment. It (the FIA) should be like the police – the police don’t write the rules and say you’ve got to do 30 miles an hour. The FIA is a joke.”

Although they are perfectly civil to each other on the phone, the comments reflect the battle between the two most powerful men in the sport ahead of the latest round of negotiations over a new Concorde Agreement. Crucially both are looking to get the teams on their side.

But Todt, who claims that the he’s very pleased with the support he’s getting from the teams on the 2013 rules, doesn’t want to get into a public spat, “The manufacturers agreed (the new rules) the world council agreed unanimously and Bernie is part of the world council. There is emotion, but what is important is never to overreact. I feel confrontation, unless it is necessary to achieve the final result, you lose time.”

On the 100 year agreement

In 2001, following a demand from the EU that the FIA separate the regulatory and commercial side of F1, a deal was signed by then FIA president Max Mosley whereby the commercial rights were assigned to Ecclestone’s company for 100 years for a fee of US$360m, which was paid upfront. This money sits in the FIA Foundation in London, and runs programmes like the young driver academy and global road safety programmes.

Although the fee looks very light now in comparison to the value of TV rights deals and circuit licence deals being done, Todt says that at the time, it was “a good initiative, a wise decision in 2001 to sell the rights”, but that he has done a thorough study of the agreement, which came into force at the start of 2011 and “it cannot be changed. It is what we have.”

But interestingly, he also spells out that he will take the opportunity of the next Concorde Agreement negotiations, starting shortly, to robustly pursue a deal for the FIA, which reflects current values.

“Now it is my responsibility to make the best out of it and to secure the best future for F1,” he added. “And you know that it is a commercial agreement, called the Concorde Agreement, which is on much shorter periods and the term of the current one is end of 2012. So together with the commercial rights holder and the teams we will have to discuss the next Concorde Agreement.

“I will make sure that everybody realises that since the (100 year) agreement has been signed and now times have changed, technology has changed. 15 years ago you didn’t have all the sophisticated electronics you can enjoy today when you watch the TV. All that has a cost. Definitely we need to take that in consideration because I must make sure that the funding for the FIA is correct. Our costs are greater than they were 10 years ago. Evolution has a price.

“For me what matters are the best interests of the FIA and these, if they are protected, are the best interests of everybody. Because you cannot have the FIA F1 world championship without the strong commitment of the FIA. And that’s the best guarantee for the teams and for CVC.”

I imagine that he will also seek to leverage F1’s global media platform to push the FIA’s Road Safety agenda even harder as this seems to be the area he spends most time working on. As part of the new management team Todt has also hired a marketing director, the first in the FIA’s history, and he is charged with finding new sources of income for the federation.

On CVC’s involvement with F1
Private equity firm CVC owns a controlling interest in the commercial rights holding company in F1 and there has been some suggestion recently that they might be shaping up to sell. Ecclestone has said that the debt, of over $2 billion, will be paid down in the next two years and Reuters reported last week that CVC has been doing a study into a possible sale. However Todt says he doesn’t think that they are on the point of selling their stake in F1,

“When the agreement was made I wasn’t president of the FIA. They (CVC) are very smart people. They have left Bernie total freedom to run the business and he has done an outstanding job as a promoter, but not alone; it’s like a movie, you have the director but you must also have the actors and the actors (in F1) have been strongly participating in the show and in the success of the show.

“What is important now is to consider what everyone has contributed in the evolution of what was F1, what is F1 and what F1 has to be in the future. And to have a healthy discussion about how to share the revenues and the costs.”

Does he think they want to sell, “I don’t think so,” he said. “They are committed, they have done an excellent job, they like the F1 business. CVC is the owner, but if CVC decides to sell the FIA and myself as president have a role to play.” This refers to the “Don King” clause in the 100 year agreement, which gives the FIA the right of veto over a prospective purchaser of the commercial rights.

On running for a second term
Ecclestone’s comment about Todt travelling the world and “kissing babies” is no throwaway. The 65 year old visited 55 countries last year and this year will visit 45. He has been fulfilling a promise to visit many of the clubs around the world, who’s membership of the FIA gives it its powerbase. It is the act of a man who is not ruling out a second term and who is shoring up his own powerbase.

When it’s put to him that he said he would only run for one four year term he is quick to point out that it was reported as such but he never said that. And he readily admits that he will not achieve all that he wants to in a single term, “My frame of mind is to achieve as much as I can in my first mandate,” he said. “I’m healthy, motivated. We don’t have to decide anything for another two years.”

For news on the EU backed initiative to launch an FIA Electric car championship go to: www.thechargingpoint.com and FINANCIAL TIMES

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Politics & political politicking.

It's interesting to learn about monsieur Todt's plans but I don't see the most important issue being addressed - ticket prices in F1. Sadly, the sport's bigwigs don't care about it. Can those folks make it more affordable for us please? I mean it's fine to travel everywhere and add more national clubs & badges to the FIA's colours - not very green and eco-friendly though! - but hello... We're the ones going to races, rallies or whatever. Without us they're nothing, unless they want to run Formula 1 events just for the VIPs.


The FIA have zero influence in this area. From the charges the troll levels the tracks, there's very little choice.


Money, in the form of CVC’s debt, has been the driving force behind F1’s expansion to the East over the past decade. Bernie has struggled to convince the progressive and accountable democracy’s of the West to subsidise CVC’s massive debt and has now turned to dictators and monarchies for the obscene amount of money that the gluttonous monster he represents demands. So, who is paying the real cost? Who is really paying CVC’s debt off? Arguably those citizens of eastern countries who enjoy far fewer freedoms that those in the western countries (whose governments have turned away) are footing the bill. CVC and F1 is basically taking money from peoples who do not have a ‘voice’, who cannot speak up and say “Build a university not a F1 track” for fear of the loss of their liberty of worse – do we want a sport funded in this manner? Do we want F1 at ANY cost? What happens when those peoples win their freedoms (Bahrain example works well here), will they see F1 as a forever linked to those dictators, Kings and Princes who they overthrew? This may well be the case in the strongest test case we have – namely Bahrain. The people never wanted an F1 race, you can see this by the attendance figures and by the words and deeds of average citizens recently who have decried the circuit as one man’s vanity project.

Bernie recently said that he always foresaw F1’s Eastern colonisation project (as long as 30 years ago) which is simply his way of retrospectively justifying something that almost no-one wants. Who other than CVC wants a race held in Dubai, for example? The fans never asked for another boring desert procession and could not care less about how many lights are on the Hotel. The sponsors? Can this really be such an important market for them when we do not have a race in North America? The Teams? I cannot fathom why they would be in favour. The average man on the street in Dubai? Not judging by the stats and news articles that I have seen. Surely this just leaves CVC and the obscene amount of money they collect from Dubai‘s crown prince?

It should be noted that the television pundits do not help the situation by constantly wittering about the ‘amazing location’ like star-crossed children when the rest of us are just interested in the racing, desperately waiting for the one occasion each year where one car passes another car on this ridiculous track. Bare in mind too that 99.9% of F1 fans are never going to be able to afford to visit Dubai to experience the ‘amazing location’ as 99.9% of F1 fans are not even in the same continent as Dubai. This is where the TV pundits come unstuck also, coming across as spoilt and wholly ignorant of what F1 fans really want to see and hear. Jake (plastic) Humphrey is just using F1 as a stop gap to develop his career and seems to be more interested in the F1 teams parties than in actually HAVING AN OPINION on anything which really matters to F1 fans, for example. Brundle is running the BBC commentary team like his own personal fiefdom, blatantly deciding who stays and who goes and is beginning, in his arrogance, to let his own preferences for certain drivers and teams show (despite all of which I actually enjoy listening to Brundle – at least he has an opinion). Moreover, Jordan is kept around for the same reason nobles of old used to employ jesters.

Now we have Todt taking up the F1 official mantra of “I WANT MORE”, like F1 has a responsibility to fund all of the FIA’s programmes around the world and the salaries of all the pointless and largely corrupt representatives from voting nations. First and foremost, F1 has a responsibility to ME, the other people who post on this site and the remaining fans all across the world. Let’s use some of this disgracefully huge pot of money to guarantee races where the Fans want them such as in the UK, France, Australia, Canada and the always awesome Spa. Let’s not only guarantee them but let’s subsidise the ticket prices so actual fans can afford a seat within a mile radius of all the millionaires and celebrities who get to go for free and hang out with drivers who they could not care less about, while being plied with merchandise that real fans save up for each year between struggling with their heating bill and the bus fare to work. Let’s make a few more fans’ dreams come true every year! God knows F1 can afford it – whatever money is left, Todt and Ecclestone can burn to fuel the engines of their private jets for all I care. It’s about time the fans took their sport back. F1 is becoming a hideous, aggressive growth on the back on society that leeches vitality and liquidity from everything it touches.

Yet I love F1 for those two hours between the lights going out and the chequered flag when the drivers do what they are paid to do with astounding, mesmerizing, inhuman skill and the cars perform like thoroughbred beacons of engineering overachievement assembled by ‘backroom’ genius’. The annual development arms race is a pleasure to watch and the personalities’ back-stories add flavour and colour. As long as I can prevent myself going mad thinking ‘why doesn’t anyone else see the torturous hypocrisy that I see’ I’ll always love F1.

Yet I love F1 for the between the lights action where men perform like machines and machines take on the personalities of men; flawed yet distinct and possessed of soul, verve and vital character. How incredible the back room genius’ who breathe life into carbon fibre, steel and electronic impulse and how extraordinary are the men who routinely take those creations to the limit of human endeavour! When all is well F1 is like nothing I have ever known, I feel privileged to watch and am often moved to leap from my sofa with cheers of celebration of shouts of frustration – no other sport can prompt this in me. As long as I do not go mad wondering ‘why no-one else sees and rails against the hypocrisy of F1’s power brokers’ I’ll always love F1.


“Money, in the form of CVC’s debt, has been the driving force behind F1’s expansion to the East over the past decade.”

The expansion began before CVCs involvement. Finance is undoubtedly a motivating factor, but so too is the fact that the world is changing.

“Bernie has struggled to convince the PROGRESSIVE and ACCOUNTABLE democracy’s of the West…”

I am sure that there are many people around the world who would question such a description. Events surrounding the invasion of Iraq immediately springs to mind…

“CVC and F1 is basically taking money from peoples who do not have a ‘voice’, who cannot speak up and say “Build a university not a F1 track” for fear of the loss of their liberty of worse – do we want a sport funded in this manner?”

For hundreds of years people in western countries have been benefiting from the exploitation of the very same people. Does the treatment of these people only become an issue when a GP is no longer convenient for a few people to attend, or the admission price goes up? Remember these people when you next by an electronic product or a petroleum-based product.

“Do we want F1 at ANY cost?”

Does the cost of the lifestyle that you enjoy bother you? How were the rare-earth metals used in the device that you used to post this message extracted?

“…99.9% of F1 fans are not even in the same continent as Dubai”

In 2008, China, which is in the same continent as Dubai, had the largest F1 viewing figures for a country. Are you suggesting that the combined viewing figures in China and all other Asian countries amounted to 0.1% of total F1 viewing figures?


“First and foremost, F1 has a responsibility to ME, the other people who post on this site and the remaining fans all across the world.”

Does F1 have a responsibility to fans in, say, Singapore? Marina Bay, and many of the “new” circuits for that matter, don’t produce exciting racing, but then again I can’t recall the last time that Silverstone put on an interesting race that wasn’t artificially enhanced. A local winner may be great news for the people in attendance, but for the hundreds of millions of people watching a race around the world, of which the majority live outside of the “traditional” countries, what matters more is whether or not the race was eventful.

“ Let’s use some of this disgracefully huge pot of money to guarantee races…. Let’s not only guarantee them but let’s subsidise the ticket prices …”

These countries have already subsidised western economies, in some cases for hundreds of years, as a result of colonialism. Are you suggesting that these countries should once again be subsidising people in western countries because some people can’t afford, or aren’t prepared to pay the prices being asked for, tickets to an F1 race?

How moral is your proposal, given what you said about inhabitants of these countries not having a voice and not being able to speak up about the construction of F1 tracks in their countries for fear of their liberties?

“why doesn’t anyone else see the torturous hypocrisy that I see”

Can anyone see the inconsistency that I see?

I could go on, but will conclude by asking if any F1 teams enjoy any lucrative commercial links with any of the governments of the so-called “new” countries? If so, why haven’t these teams been on the receiving end of the sort of criticism that has been directed at Bernie?


"A large amount of your post basically amounts to “This behavior is seen all over the world, in many different contexts and throughout history so it’s ok for F1 to do it also”"

To set the record straight, that statement does not in any way reflect my view on this issue.


Problem is, this is an F1 website. A large amount of your post basically amounts to "This behavior is seen all over the world, in many different contexts and throughout history so it's ok for F1 to do it also" I disagree.


What do you think about teams that have commercial links to governments in the "new" countries? In some cases the links are substantial, yet Bernie seems to be the only one who is copping any criticism.


This is the single best comment that summed up what F1 feels like to me. I grew up in Africa. Since when I was very young, my dream was to get close to an F1 car. But when I saw the ticket prices, it felt like it wasn't worth it. Been to the Malaysian track for 3 years now. I didn't think I was getting my money's worth.

Prisoner Monkeys

"Bernie recently said that he always foresaw F1’s Eastern colonisation project (as long as 30 years ago) which is simply his way of retrospectively justifying something that almost no-one wants. Who other than CVC wants a race held in Dubai, for example? The fans never asked for another boring desert procession and could not care less about how many lights are on the Hotel."

I disagree with this. In order to be a true World Championship, Formula 1 needs to be represented all around the world. That includes the Middle East just as much as it does Europe. True, the weighting given to Middle Eastern races will always be less than what is given to European events; two Middle Eastern races is about as many as the region needs.

I think that in order to be a true World Championship, Formula 1 needs at least one race in each of the following regions: Europe, North America, South America, Russia, China, Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, the Middle East Australasia and Africa (far and away the hardest one to get up and running). And possibly Central America; if Sergio Perez does as well as his performance in Australia implies he will, expect a resurgence of the Mexican Grand Prix.

Prisoner Monkeys

I wouldn't say people are jealously guarding local races, but rather that there is a cultural imperialism running through the fans: they think that European races are somehow more meaningful to the sport than non-European races, ironically enough in a time when more nations are represented on the grid than ever before.


Exactly, but some people feel that F1 should be confined to a small region of the world, which just happens to correspond to the region of the world that they live in.


Wow! What negativity all around...

Wayne, you don't mention how long you've been a fan of F1. I've been a fan since attending my my first GP in 1968. Back then the only racing on TV was the Monaco GP and the Indy 500. I don't recall any coverage in the traditional press, and the only information on the championship was in car/racing magazines and were usually about 2 GPs behind... Every once in a while I remember those days and I'm amazed, and grateful, by the amount of coverage that we can enjoy today. So, let's not forget who made all this possible...

In fact, I'm always a little surprised when I read hateful comments about Bernie. If F1 enjoys such a huge fan base and world wide coverage, he's the one to thank. He's made the sport what it is today, and along the way made team owners multi-millionaires. By the way, James also has a nice job covering the sport!

Yes, the sport is expensive but it's a business and supply and demand is the name of the game. I'm absolutely not worried because market forces will prevail. The sport asks and gets what we see today; tomorrow, market forces will force the sport to adjust by however much is needed. Great drivers and engineers will always be looking for the next challenge.


Hear hear!

One of the few sane voices.

I am a relative newcomer to F1, but I have heard about how difficult F1 was to follow pre-1970. Especially if you weren't living anywhere near one of the countries that features the "traditional circuits".


Couldn't have said it better. Both this and your other reply.


You should not be just a fan of some sort you should be a machete wielding rebel shouting 'off with their heads'.

Really when did you develop those feelings of hurt and oppression and all that just from watching F1?

You belong to those people that will never ever be happy, no matter what is done they will stay powerless forever.


Really captures what we feel. But in the end what you are asking for is for CVC to take a cut to it's margins, and for all the "wedges" that manage to get a cut of that margin to also take a cut or take a walk. And that's just not going to happen willingly. Not unless a competitor(which doesn't exist) forces F1 to be more competitive on fees and to take a cut, or unless WE the fans find a way to force them in the same style of revolution that you mention in Bahrain. For us that revolution involves one simple and easy act - not watching (not attending). That will decrease the value of F1. That's easier said than done for most of us. And of course it could do to F1 what has happened to IRL/Cart/Indycar whatever they are called now in the US.

May I make another point Wayne. It is the internet that allows us all to follow in detail the back end politics of F1 with instant news, press releases hourly, opinions everywhere. You say that you want Light to Light pleasure - well, that's what they aim to deliver to you, isn't it? There is no hourly F1 TV program, is there? All they want to give you each weekend is 1 hour of quali, 2 hours of race, and on you go.

Your point about if the insane amounts of money invested to achieve this 3 hours of marketing is worth it is yet another conversation. And as you clearly point out, it very well may not be. After all, Spa has been there for a long time, and will continue to be there regardless if F1 cars circle it or not.


Beautifully written wayne! Couldn't agree more...


Hats off to you Wayne. Brilliant post and you convey what a lot of real F1 fans believe.


Thanks for that considered post. You make some interesting points that I'm sure will be noted within F1. One thing you don't take into account when talking about F1's expansion into new countries is that a sport needs to open new markets - India and Russia are two good examples.

I agree that some venues are there because of money alone and will never build a fan base and I also agree that F1 should stay loyal to places where the fanbase is strong, but don't try to cling to F1 as a largely European thing and deny it to potential fans in new places, that is as big a mistake as going to the wrong places.

F1 can and should succeed in India and Russia.


“Incidently I watched a programme on the BBC recently which explained how Dubai was built largely with slave labour – migrant workers, men and women who are trapped in the country and forced to work for pittance.”

And who built the majority of computers/mobile devices that people use to access this site? What was a large proportion of the wealth in western countries built on, organic growth?

I know people from some of the “new” F1 countries who view the criticisms that their countries get regarding F1 as yet another example of people in western countries being jealous of their progress and just a touch imperialistic. Whenever I hear people moaning about races in “far-flung” places, I question what role solipsism plays in such comments.

“F1’s degree of social responsibility feels like so much lip-service”

True. I remember Honda saying that time on the track during race weekends accounted for something like 3% of the company’s carbon footprint. However, if the sport were used to develop technologies that have applications for the wider world, then the environmental cost of hauling the F1 circus all over the world would be relatively small.

Incidentally, there is still a significant environmental impact associated with races at the “traditional circuits”.

Remember also that some teams enjoy lucrative financial arrangements with governments from the “new” countries, and from similar types of governments whose lands are yet to host an F1 race.

“who the heck is seeking a better deal for the fans?”

Nobody. A lot of people spend countless hours moaning about it, but none of them ever seem to do anything about it. If people really are so bothered by it all, then stop attending races, stop watching races on TV, stop buying publications and reading specialist websites (sorry James!). Additionally, write to the teams that are involved in lucrative commercial arrangements with governments in these “new” countries, expressing your outrage and indicating your decision to give up on the sport until things change to your liking. The message will soon filter through.

However, the sort of series that you seem to want is probably not viable in the long-term. Car manufacturers will ultimately go to wherever the money is, and in that respect the “traditional” countries are becoming less significant in that respect with each passing day.

“Still it is not just F1; it is obviously human beings and world sport in general. It could be incalculably, immeasurably worse – we could have FIFA in charge!”

Or the IOC!


Sorry, I should also mention that I agree about not clinging to F1 as being a soley european thing which is why I talk about Canada and Australia as races the fans want to see in my original post.

Keep up the great work with this site James, it's the only go to place for innovative, relevant, unique content! Thank you.


Hi James, you taking the time to reply is much appreciated. I agree fully, F1 absolutely needs to be open to new markets - the old move forward or loose ground adage. The problem feels like that mantra only applies as long as it serves to make incredibly rich people even richer otherwise it is ignored completely. If this were not the case we would have had a stable race in North America for the past 30 years regardless of whether they paid CVC 10 or 50 million dollars. Surely North America an indispensible market for any sponsor, manufacturer and F1 in and of itself. However, Federal and State government in North America has to justify expenditure to the people and we go back to the argument in my original post. If people feel that money is being wasted they will vote the decision maker out of office – Historically, this has not applied (rather conveniently for CVC) in the East. Incidently I watched a programme on the BBC recently which explained how Dubai was built largely with slave labour - migrant workers, men and women who are trapped in the country and forced to work for pittance. Is THIS where F1's money is coming from? These lost souls nand people who cannot say no to F1's presence?

Do not get me wrong, I love F1 as much as my fellow posters and I appreciate that I do not have all of the information at hand but I can only post what I THINK and FEEL based on how things look to me as an outsider. For all the hypocrisy, greed and gluttony; I also acknowledge that stunning things that Bernie has achieved in developing F1 into a world brand. Heck, even Max did great things for safety. However, it now feels as though F1 is forgetting itself in the desperate race to rake even more obscene amounts of money. A Worldwide brand as huge as F1 has a degree of social responsibility and taking advantage of peoples who cannot speak up for themselves (until recently perhaps) does not fit this model. I also do not believe that social responsibility is adequately covered by bringing in regulations that all but force teams to spend tens of millions of dollars developing a KERS system (while simultaneously publicly stating that costs are being reduced) as a token gesture to environmentalism. Not when we fly a thousand tonnes of freight out to ‘new world’ tracks where no-one turns up even when they try and give the tickets away just because they are free (due to a lack of democratic process) to pay the most money for the privilege. F1’s degree of social responsibility feels like so much lip-service, like an annoying uncle who has to be invited to the wedding but who is considered a bit of an inconvenience in general. So what do we do? - we talk about how great it is that he is there, give him a slice of cake and a seat in the corner while the rest of us go about our business of drinking the champagne.

All the time the FIA, the teams and CVC are battling each other (which does feel like ALL the time) they are not concentrating on me and my fellow fans without whom there is no sport. They are like negligent parents who berate each other in front of the kids without even acknowledging that they exist – as though their world view and accompany desires are somehow more important than those they have a responsibility to. While Todt is seeking a better deal for the FIA and Bernie is seeking a better deal for CVC who the heck is seeking a better deal for the fans? It certainly cannot be the circuit designer, Tilke can it? How man more redundant tracks will this man be allowed to design before someone realises that whatever backroom deal he OBVIOUSLY has with the FIA/CVC is just not worth the hassle and they simply copy Spa and Suzuka with a few personality tweaks. They could create great tracks 40 years ago why the hell not now? And it is not just the cars that have changed because Spa and Suzuka are still great tracks with the current breed of F1 car tearing around their hallowed tarmac! I absolutely shudder to think how much Tilke is paid for his efforts and am entirely suspicious about the whole arrangement.

So none of the above are seeking a better deal for you and me. If it's just a nobody like me screaming about seeking a better deal for the fans then we are all doomed!

Still it is not just F1; it is obviously human beings and world sport in general. It could be incalculably, immeasurably worse – we could have FIFA in charge!

P.S the day that Bernie’s sprinklers grace an F1 circuit will be the day that I loose all faith in humanity. Actually trying to cause accidents? Really? What is this; Death Race 2000? The first time that a driver is injured or god forbid lost due to an accident when the sprinklers were turned on Bernie should be charged with manslaughter. These brave, wondrous drivers have enough real danger to deal with without heaping it on them to up the damn ratings!

PPS: Thank you posters for staving off my impending embolism by showing me that here at least, the most informed posters on the best and most relevant F1 site on the internet, do see what I see and I am not crying into my Lewis Hamilton WDC championship T-shirt on my own! And apologies for, bizarrely, writing two almost identical paragraphs at the end of my original post so caught up was I in my fanatical zeal!


Russia's a big question really, even despite Petrov's efforts... I've got a friend who works in Sochi and is directly involved in the building process of the new facilities for the Olympics/F1 race, he's been telling me it's an utter chaos. Likely to be something similar to the Korean GP last year, also with the most expensive ticket prices on the calendar. Sochi is now a place for the nouveaux riches, extremely expensive and I'm sure you'll agree it doesn't qualify as the new Monaco or something like that.

Expansion is a good idea for the sport, only if it's done properly. One race in South America - c'mon! That part of the globe is passionate about motorsport, just look at the WRC footage of all the recent rallies and you'll see hordes of motor racing fans.

I think we shouldn't brand F1 as "a largely European thing", but given the current financial situation of the EU and its citizens, I suppose the sport's bigwigs could actually try and slash ticket prices for us a bit.

Why don't they create F1 Euro Series or something similar? Wouldn't be a bad idea. While Bernard & Co. can go (processionally & professionally) racing in the desert in front of empty grandstands or stay at home and wait while them desert people fight for their right to use Twitter, we could do our thing here. A strictly European F1 championship could go to all the nice classic tracks across Europe, make it a bit like the DTM. It would have tons of appeal for the sponsors, etc.. Also the drivers could practise a bit, maybe young and exciting fellas with little cash could get their lucky break this way (just read that Aleshin had to cancel his GP2 campaign due to lack of funding, we're talking about the WSR champion here, a real shame). Just an idea of course.

Motor racing is running out of options fast, it has to be affordable for all the parties involved: the teams/drivers, circuit owners and the spectators. We need to go back to basics.


Should being the key word to your last statement.

If the Russian or Indian GP is about as interesting as the track at Valencia then it will be much harder to drum up support, and the more support in these countries, the more likely you are to get focus and attention from and towards the likes of Tata/etc and Lada/etc.. i.e. the Russian and Indian tracks.

I agree with much of the wayne's post, but it has to be said that much of the problem isn't just having a GP in the middle of nowhere where you need to build a new circuit AND raise interest, the problem I believe is also that the tracks aren't as interesting in these new places and we have seen tilke's work.

I don't want this post just to be tilke-bashing, I've done that before 🙂 and wouldn't mind again, but not now.

The problem is that if you watch the Japanese GP or the Monaco GP etc... then it is pretty interesting and you are likely to get some people interested. But if you say 'here is F1' and you show them Bahrain, Valencia and Abh Dhabi then you are much less likely to get people interested.

If F1 is to get more interest then people need to be interested. I know as an aussie that the media in general, which means the public in general is more interested if Australia is doing well in things. Sure we watched the last Ashes series, but Australia can't help but love wathcing the Commonwealth games or more in context F1 in the last year or 2. THe boom after Webber started to hit the front was quite big. More interest after the car looked good and then afte the Nurburgring F1 was on the news after each race also mentioning how Webber did, usually it was a sentence or two..

Same thing with the events, as an Australian I like Albert Park being in Australia, sure it isn't suzuka, but it has had a fwe nice things said about it and people don't generally spend the whole time before and after questioning why the circuit is so rubbish.

If India or Russia or Korea or etc... then to keep people interested they need to have something they can feel proud of, weather that be a driver they can cheer on who is doing particularly well, or a team that can cheer for and they feel like it has a good chance and tehy aren't just wasting their time. Or a circuit that they can think.. yep, that's here in ________, pretty sweet isn't it. Isn't ______ good.

I'd feel a bit embarassed if I was living in Bahrain or wherever and the GP was country produced was despised and laughed at world wide.

While much of the problem is with going to places where they isn't support already, the problem with raising support often involves the tracks themselves.

As such if Petrov is in a good place doing well, maybe scoring podiums, and the Russian track is something exciting (it wont be as tilke is involved), then I think there is a good chance of getting a bit of Russian support. Russian companies are intersted in F1 because of a Pussian, Petrov, hence they think that Russians will be interested in how a Russian does. (if you understnad basic markets then youll get where I'm coming from here).

I don't know how India will be. I'm worried it will be a blast that then disappears and by the end of the season it will have mostly fallen off the radar. Why? Because there aren't any Indian drivers to follow, (NK isn't worth it and may not qualify for a few GP's this year, and Chandhok is a reserve and may get a run on a friday if he is lucky), FI aren't doing well (I can't really predict this, but if they don't improve compared to other teams then they may be looking at the back of the field rather than points. Also the team doesn't feel very Indian, just going by what I see and feel of the team), and track is a big ?

Track looks ok.. don't know for sure.

I guess my point is, I somewhat agree with the wayne's post aswell as James', but I can't help but think that maybe the reason why support is lagging is because sticking a GP in a country is as likely to make people intersted in F1 as putting a golf course down the road will make you interested in golf.... just not really


Yep, very true. I was lucky enough to be a guest of one of the teams last year in Valencia (on Thursday only - I'm not a VIP, them mighty VIPs get Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the paddock) and then a friend of mine got a couple of free tickets, which really saved my sorry you-know-what. I studied the ticket prices at the circuit and it turned out the privilege of watching the cars go round in circles would've cost me more than the whole trip (Lisbon-Valencia and back)/hotel/food! Just not real.

The FIA/FIA clubs also claim to represent the motorists around the world. Now I'm a motorist, but I don't feel like they represent me in any shape or size. It's a false claim they keep making. I bet all F1 fans are motorists... Are we being represented by Todt? The ship is, unfortunately, sinking, as Tom Waits once pointed out.


Just want to second that post. Brilliant piece of writing. I think you should get some merchandising for that. Can we set up a petition with that as the issue?


That is without a doubt the best single encapsulated writing about who and what F1 is...OUTSTANDING....now JA PLEASE... PLEASE get the FIA and Bernie and the powers in each team to read this...it is what the fans want


Really eloquent post, I think that most of us that read this website regularly would agree with a lot of your points.


OMFG That write up was SPECIAL! I couldn't agree more and I really appreciate the time and effort you put into it, beautifully written! Money is evil, isn't it?


Probably the single best comment I've read on this website. Couldn't agree more.


Ticket prices are so high because the track side advertising is already accounted for, and the money to Bernie is soon to be in the billions* per race.

*slight exageration...


Both the claim to sit a single term and the efforts to build the international clubs support were key moves employed by Mosley against Balestre. I expect Todt to sit for 2 or 3 terms.


I just finished reading the "No Angel" book about BE.. and I believe his head to head with Todt will (just) be another chapter.

Todt seems a very reasonable and well-headed guy.. BE is also very target-oriented.. it will be interesting to see whether we will get an entire new (just as usual) cycle of divide and conquer..

I just thought that maybe Ron Dennis could get a second chance to play with the big boys.. but then thought its out of the question.. he is no friend of BE's nor of Todt.. so no place in this game? Or is there?


The FIA this the FIA that! It's all about the FIA (just as it was in Mosley's day), I say rubbish, F1 doesn't need the FIA and it doesn't need CVC or Ecclestone.

Make no mistake, in a few years times when current rulers are no more many stones will be unturned and much will be learnt of the way F1 was ruled over the past 15 years or more much of which is know by current F1 reporters whom dare not publish................

F1 is all about the teams, Ferrari and McLaran are key and anyone who wants to be seen as being with the best will want to be amongst them. In time if Mercedes stick with it and likewise Redbull maybe they too will become true stalwarts of F1.

F1 could be almost self funding if most of the revenues made when back to the teams (as it should), the FIA should be (if they have to be) nothing but the referee's though as we all saw in Australia with Vettels illegal overtaking of Button they more often than not don't get that right!!

Time for the teams when looking at the new Concord agreement to show some confidence in themselves.

Lastly, having been a supporter of F1 since the late 60's one thing I have learnt more than anything else is; in F1 NOTHING is impossible and that includes looking again at the ridiculous 100 year agreement Todt say can't be looked at - take it to the right people at the EU and they may be surprised, that's if the teams still want to play with the FIA!


On the topic of the EU, the FIA/FOM relationship has been investigated.


"Ferrari and McLaren are key"

You are 50% correct.

Ferrari has universal support, and the other teams will go wherever Ferrari goes.

McLaren may have a few fans scattered around the world, but the team's support base primarily belongs to a certain demographic. Senna had universal appeal, but McLaren reaped minimal benefits from Senna's popularity. Ron Dennis was no doubt hoping that Hamilton would lead to a boost in McLAren's profile around the world, but it hasn't happened yet.


Isn't the strength of the Tifosi world-wide heavily linked to Ferrari success? It was like Man Utd syndrome in the Schumacher years.

At the moment the Ferrari support is still living off that high, a few more years of failure and the symbiotic relationship between Ferrari and F1 will be become more equal.

I suspect in the late eighties F1 could of easily flourished without Ferrari.


"I suspect that Ferrari supporters would continue to watch F1 even without their favourite team."

I have no doubt that some would. However, if Ferrari is competing in a rival series and both races are taking place at the same time, then I have a fair idea of which race the majority of Ferrari fans would be watching. And so do most leading figures in the F1 pit lane.


The “Schumacher effect” undoubtedly boosted the popularity of Ferrari, however it is interesting to note that the “Senna effect” never achieved similar results for McLaren. The McLaren-Honda effect boosted Honda’s reputation as an engine manufacturer, but beyond F1 enthusiasts, how many people could tell you the team that Senna won his WDCs with? How many people could tell you that M Schumacher initially experienced success with Benetton?

Ferrari has a pedigree that all of the other teams in the sport are yet to acquire. Ron Dennis was aware of this, which no doubt contributed to his response to F1 Racing magazine in 2007 when he was asked what Ferrari means to F1.

20 years ago, Senna was the driver who people with no real interest in F1 claimed to like. 10 years ago, M Schumacher was that driver. Today, Lewis Hamilton fills the role. They all knew that Schumacher drove for Ferrari, but how many of these people know what team Hamilton drives for?

EVERYBODY knows that Ferrari is the manufacturer of prestigious performance cars, but how many people, beyond automotive enthusiasts, know of McLaren’s forays into the performance car market?

“I suspect in the late eighties F1 could of easily flourished without Ferrari.”

When Enzo Ferrari passed away in 1988, there were rumours that the Ferrari team would be renamed Alfa Romeo by Fiat. The F1 world was aghast. Even back then the view was that F1 without Ferrari would not be the same.


I suspect that Ferrari supporters would continue to watch F1 even without their favourite team. F1 is too big for one team to throw its weight around. They would n't be genuine F1 fans in they walked away would they???


You under estimate the popularity of McLaren...possibly because it is not your favourite team.

You will be sadly disappointed if you think Ferrari is the pied piper of F1!

The fact that Ferrari has never dared to leave F1 shows that the team needs F1. LdM's threats are hollow and Todt know this.

LdM is not popular amongst the other teams so I doubt their presence would be missed.


"Ferrari fans would n’t be genuine F1 fans in their favourite team walked away would they???"

I am not entirely sure what this is supposed to mean.

However, ‘F1’ is a trademark that is ultimately owned by Bernie Ecclestone, and possibly some other individuals/commercial organisations.

Presumably the majority of people that follow any form of motor sport, including Ferrari fans, are fans of motor racing, rather than fans of a trademark.

If FOTA had formed a rival series to ‘F1’, as was threatened in 2009, which series would the majority of motor racing fans have had the most interest in, ‘F1’, with its budget-capped entries, or a series that would not be called ‘F1’, but which would consist of entrants from motor racing outfits such as Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Renault, Williams, etc.?

If people choose to be first and foremost a fan of Bernie’s trademark, then so be it. The majority of us would rather be fans of motor racing.


Ferrari fans would n’t be genuine F1 fans in their favourite team walked away would they???


Well, I travel extensively and visit F1 Grands Prix around the globe regularly. Wherever I go, I see many people wearing items of Ferrari clothing. I can’t say that I see too many people dressed in McLaren clothing. Whenever I see a McLaren fan at a grand prix, 9 times out of 10 the individual in question is a tourist who belongs to a specific demographic. Ferrari, on the other hand, has a universal appeal. The team may have Italian origins, however you are as likely to find a legion of home grown Ferrari fanatics at Silverstone or in Singapore as you are at Monza.

Ferrari has a widespread appeal that the other teams lack.

McLaren, like most teams, has enjoyed transient support from compatriots of certain drivers, however as soon as this driver goes elsewhere the support vanishes.

“You will be sadly disappointed if you think Ferrari is the pied piper of F1!”

The last time that the Concorde Agreement was up for renewal, the Williams team, an F1 stalwart, wasted no time following Ferrari after parting company with BMW. It is not a case of being pleased or disappointed, rather a case of acknowledging reality.

“LdM is not popular amongst the other teams...”
I am sure that bothers LdM no end!
How many individuals from the hierarchy of a particular team are popular amongst other teams? There were no eulogies from team managers when Ron Dennis was effectively ousted from the McLaren team in 2009. Some people may claim that team managers were afraid to speak for Ron at the time, but that can not explain the lack of kind words said for him since late 2009. I believe that it was Ron Dennis who came up with the term ‘Piranha Club’, and there was a reason for it!
“…so I doubt their presence would be missed.”
I am pretty sure that television networks would be looking at paying less for the rights to broadcast F1 races, and I can imagine crowds being down at both the so-called traditional circuits and the more recent additions. Can you imagine an F1 race taking place at Monza, one of the so-called “traditional circuits”, if Ferrari no longer competed in F1? After a couple of seasons, the teams would certainly feel the financial effects if Ferrari was not taking part.
The significance of Ferrari to F1 may not be amenable to everybody, but the reality is that F1 would be seriously diminished without Ferrari’s presence.


YES you are correct McLaren does have five supporters they are all around the globe...and at one time every year they attempt to get close to one another....called Silverstone...Ferrari has half the world that know who they are 🙂


Given the FIA have been a royal disaster - any change, would be a good one.

I would like to see the FIA sidelined completely, so the real attraction of F1 can shine again.

At the moment, the racing is dull and blunted... new management blood is desperately needed.


If you really think about it, it's one heck of a house of cards they put together, right? It's amazing.

Those of us who have been watching have to admire how they keep it standing through the scandals, power struggles, threats, market conditions, etc. Look to US open wheel to see how power struggles decapitate a sport and down comes the house of cards.

Bernie is one heck of a strong man too - physically at his age I mean. Can anyone else really have the aura of power and influence around him like he does?

I can't think of anyone outside of the team principle circle with at least 20 years in F1 taking his role. Could Flavio Briatore or Ron Denis take the role? Try to take a pole on that one, it would be interesting. You need someone who doesn't let power get to their head once they have the authority to make demands from heads of state. Few people like that out there.


I disagree with you on everything but I picked the most important points :

1st and most important : F1 needs Ferrari. Ferrari is the key. I don't know why you added McLaren there honestly. A very common mistake of the McLarenisti.

2nd : F1 teams spend the money they have. Virgin competes in F1 and is only 105% slower than the biggest teams with the brightest minds, the bigger resources and the most skilled drivers. So the money spent by Virgin is enough to put a decent performance. If only that money were available to most teams, they'll still compete.


It's quite irritating to see one section of F1 think that their team should be at the centre of F1. Why should this team occupy a priviledged position? In that case, Why not give Ferrari automatic pole and throw in an extra 10 championship points every time they complete a race?

Perhaps Ferrari should leave F1 and then we would soon see how unimportant they are to F1. It would certainly be far more peaceful without their regeular complaining as we saw last year by LdM and Alonso.

If we were in any doubt about Ferrari hype, look at their lack of innovation in the last few years, preferring to copy the innovation coming from McLaren and Rebull.


"preferring to copy the innovation coming from McLaren"

You deserve some sort of prize for that statement!


Assuming Ferrari is anything more than just another brand - a very common mistake of the Tifosi.

I'm just glad I can dismiss them with the knowledge that I know many Ferrari fans (much like Terry Shepherd above) who ultimately value the racing above the brands, and would never be so presumptuous to tell other F1 fans they should be lucky to be in their preferred team's hemisphere. Which, you can argue all you like, is basically what you're suggesting.

By the way, now might not be the best time to trot out that old "F1 needs Ferrari" myth.
Red Bull may "just" be a drinks company but they've made your thoroughbreds look like right donkeys!!


Jo Torrent is right that Ferrari is the key [mod]. It would be in everyone's best interests if Ferrari broke away and set up a Ferrari Championship - 24 of the best drivers in identical Ferraris. Imagine Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton, Kubica, Rosberg and Schumacher racing identical Ferraris!


Yes just imagine....

Rob Smedley: 'Fernando - Lewis, Sebastian and Robert are quicker than you. Do you understand....?'

Terry Shepherd

Can Ferrari be F1 on their own? MacLaren and Williams have been in the sport for more than 30 years now and they are deservedly part of the history. They also provided the racing while Ferrari stumbled along as an also-ran for 21 years. Although Renault are presently down to engine supply, they are worthy of consideration also, as is Cosworth.

If Ferrari stopped tomorrow, F1 would go on, regretfully of course, but it would carry on. It's bigger than one team. I like Ferrari probably as much as you, but I can see past them, to others.

In any case, I think we sometimes take too narrow a view of F1, as though those great pre-war battles never took place. Should we exclude from our thoughts those great drivers and marques who made the history of our sport? Yes, Ferrari was part of that, too and they deserve our respect and affection but that is no reason to belittle other teams and their fans.

Maybe you dismiss most of the teams as Enzo did, as 'garagistes' but how long would it continue with just Ferrari and Mercedes? Like it or not, we are stuck with them - and I'm very glad of it! I'll continue to enjoy all the teams and their drivers.


"They also provided the racing while Ferrari stumbled along as an also-ran for 21 years."

You could not explain this in three pages of diatribe.


No,I do not dismiss any competitor they all
have strengths be it big or small,but I do
stick to Enzo quote when he said, let the competition be, competition makes a better
breed,where I am p+++off is the changing of
the rules,remember the Ferrari V-12 a msgic
engine, magic sound, what ever happen to the
quote of US pres,Rosewealth if you can't stand
the heat in the kitchen get out, somehow the
big brother of (FAI)everyone to be the same
what a farce.
But wait, I always believed there is not such
thing as coincidence,we now hear a F1 of
electric cars,Renault have invested huge funds
to the point make or break in development of
Electric Cars, Mr Todt being a very proud
Franchman,coincidence?, yup and pigs will fly.


I agree with you on couple ponts, Ferrari is

heart and soul of F1,unless Mr Todt changes

his view 2012 on Ferrari will not be on F1

grid,Bernie will call it a day,with all

probability there will be a eight car grid

and Mr Todt will supplement rest of a grid

spots with electric cars. Good God.

Welcome to the excting 2013 and beyond F1.


Are those Virgin cars going backwards at 5% race speed? 🙂

Not to pick sides, but lets be honest, Dale has a point. 100 years with FIA means nothing if the teams don't show up. So the FIA may not be able to do anything about the agreement upfront, but the teams sure as heck can. The agreement is for F1. FIA gives FOM the rights for 100 years for F1, but Concorde Agreements are not that long. Teams don't show up and guess who wins? FIA - with their up-front payment. Teams break away and create a championship with another name that's not "F1" - current agreement is null and voil. Because guess what's likely in the agreement - "F1". So if they call it "1" - it's a whole new championship and whole new set of rights. And who says FIA has to oversee it? They would want to that's certain.

Teams are clearly in power here. Next round of negotiations is going to be fun, fun, fun. Bernie will have to bring his wallet, that's certain.

Ferrari is key to the Championship indeed. But look at ALMS, or LeMans or many others and see how little Ferrari can mean. It's an Audi show all the way, with recent 908 making some head wind. Many championships survive just fine without Ferrari's presence. I am a Ferrari fan, but there are many of us. Some who loved Ferrari when Gilles was there, some when Schumi, some when Lauda, etc. Many became Ferrari fans when Alonso joined them. Many stopped being Ferrari fans when Kimi left. Many more stopped when Schumi left. Brand loyalty today is not as certain as back in the day. Reality is most of us don't drive a Ferrari, many of us admire it but consider it redundant, I'm sure some would never want one. So let's put into perspective the power of a brand which sells a few thousand cars a year. These new kids now adays aren't nostalgic for the good olds days. They want what's new. The love the story of new team winning, not story of old establishment winning.

Finally - NEVER underestimate the negotiating power of a French Man like Todt. As the saying in my native language goes "Quiet waters rip the shore". He's crafty, younger, and will bring his A Game to Bernie. Bernie's cheap personal shots could also be a sign of how weak his position may be going forward. You don't think Todt has dirt on Bernie he could dish? It's simply below his character to do so, and that should speak volumes of the fact that Todt brings knowledge, respect and dignity to the position. 2 or 3 terms? Let's hope so in the very least based on what we know of him over the years.


As much as I disliked him when he ran Ferrari, I must say I like him as the FIA president. Max is a strange man and Jean is much more subdued. He has shown his willingness to just start doing things instead of Max' posturing and flaunting.

Max did good things for safety, I'll give him that.


Hi james,

Totally irrelevent, but I was wondering what your views are on off track overtaking. There has been a lot of talk on various websites this past week about the moves by Vettel and Buemi around the outside of turn 4 in Melbourne and whether or not they should have been punished. I personally am of the view that any move executed with all 4 wheels outside of the track limits is illegal and should be punished, but many others feel that as the circuit is being lengthened it's ok. I've also heard that it was agreed that it was OK to run wide at turn 4? is this true? if so, should that not have been made clear to the fans? and should there really be exceptions that can just increase the grey areas?


When Button was pushed off by Massa and missed the corner, he hadn't set out to cut it -- it just happened as part of the racing. But he did end up gaining a place and rightly expected to be told to relinquish it. Unfortunately it didn't work out quite right and he ended up with a drive through penalty -- which was unfortunate, but fair do's.

When Vettel overtook Button a while later, Vettel committed to the move at the exit of the previous corner and was travelling at a speed that he knew would result in all four of his wheels crossing the outer edge of the circuit. The belief that he could leave the circuit and re-join it with impunity gave him an unfair advantage in that it enabled him to travel at a speed that would take him past Button. I'm sure if Button had known there would be no punishment on this occasion for leaving and rejoining the circuit he would have put his foot down earlier and thus kept Vettel at bay.

There's no doubt in my mind that Vettel gained a speed advantage by treating the run-off area as part of the track.


is there no way that the FIA could add some form of kerbs/ramps on any of the tarmac run off areas like in Melbourne - so that if you go off you will be disadvantaged?


I agree that kerbs and ramps -- if they work -- can be dangerous, but then drivers are well able to keep off them. However, wouldn't it be a better solution to construct run-off areas with a surface, immediately outside the white line, with a band of tarmac that has substantially less grip than the race track? It would create a danger of spinning but, after all, they generally manage to avoid missing the Armco all round the circuit at Monte Carlo.


They did that to the chicanes in Singapore and Monza and the drivers unanimously threw a fit about how unsafe it was, only to then turn around and moan when people cut the chicanes after the barriers were reduced.
The problem with building up the edge of a highspeed runoff area with curbs to limit the occasional opportunist from going off to gain an advantage is that it does horrific things to cars that actually need to use them for safety


I think it's something that will get plenty of attention in the Friday drivers' briefing at Sepang. It needs some consistency, I'll agree with that. I've always quite liked it when people go off trying to pass - I'm thinking La Source at Spa. But what Button did on Massa was a clear cutting of the corner



Can you remember what the decision was for Abu Dhabi. I know Brundle among others pointed out you could actually get a faster lap time but 'extending' the track at certain places to keep more speed. Did the drivers just decide against it or was it made illigal? And if so, should that rule be used for all tracks or go track by track?

I think the question is purely about things like Raikkonen going off at teh start of the 09 Belgium GP or really the start of any GP at Spa where the fastest way out of the chaos is 'extending' the track.

If that is illigal then Vettel's move should be too, if it isn't then Vettel's move shouldn't.

I think it looks scruffy if there is a black rubbered up lines off the track as all the cars do it, so I'd prefer not, but in this age of hard to overtake maybe it should be allowed.

The question is just should it be allowed and hence also things like the start of certain GP's, or not. And if it is a mixture how do you work out (easily) for viewers


Who, claiming to be sane in the head, signs an agreement leasing commercial rights for 100 years for $380m, while YEARLY revenue from the commercial rights approaches $500m?!!

Who was doing the maths at the time?

The FIA shot itself in both knees there.


Todt has thus far done a good job IMO.

He's rarely in the press and the FIAs decisions are rarely questioned. That's in stark contrast to Max and that can only be a good thing.

I think the new engine rules are a good thing, F1 development of small capacity Turbo engines could easily assist with the production of better road car engines for us all. Yes I'll miss the V8's but I miss the V12's more, and given oil is a finite resource it's the right move to make. The cars should have ~750bhp (probably more) so speed wise I doubt we'll see much change.


I don't think oil is a finite resource. There are still new places being discovered with oil. Changing from V8's to 4 cylinders is just stupid. it takes away so much from the sport. Big changes like this always have hidden agenda's. I am sure F1 is gonna lose so many fans after 2012. 🙁


Good chance to get inside the mind that will be moving F1 forward over the next few years.

No surprise that Bernie and Jean have strong opinions. I wonder if there is some of the ‘George Bush” syndrome at play; the need to identify an adversary in order to demonstrate you are in a position of power and thus needed.

It’s easy for casual fans to forget that Todt and the FIA run a much larger organization and F1 is only part of the puzzle, albeit the most televised and glamorous.


"Although the fee looks very light now in comparison to the value of TV.."

It was a bargain at the time as well IMO - I could not believe the mates got away with [mod] so much value from the FIA for next to nothing and locking it up longer then Hong Kong.


I think that TODT wants the FIA to have its share of the huge cake and given that Mr. E has secured a century contract for the FIA for nothing, Mr TODT wants to make him pay indirectly.

To do so, he intends to make the teams pay the FIA the money. In order for the teams to agree to that, he intends to ally with them against the FOM. He will side with them for asking a much bigger share of the TV revenues, being open on technical rules and by being less dictatorial (which he proved) than his predecessor.

The teams will have to give the FIA some of that money which is fair. Given that the FOM won't give it directly to the FIA, the teams will have to do it in one way or another. One way is to pay big sums for key personal licences.

Anyway, we're heading towards a big war between the FIA and the FOM. The key is to know who will the FOTA side with and if Bernie is able to get Ferrari out of the FOTA. The fact that he criticized the new engine formula is maybe more of a political opinion. Right now, I think that Todt is favourite but you never know.

In any case, Bernie will loose a lot of money in the process.

I'm only speculating but it would be nice to have a new political warfare


Fully expecting Ferrari to do the dirty on the other teams as they have done in the past...courtesy of a secret deal with Bernie and no doubt santioned by FIA, provided they get their agreed cut ....of course!

Michael Grievson

I like Todt. I like that way he doesn't need to be in the limelight all the time like Max and Bernie. Bernie always comes out with derogatory comments when he's playing his games. Just like the artificial rain suggestion. He doesn't really believe its a good idea. He just wants to keep in the headlines or use it as leverage to get his own way with something.



May I ask if there was a winner of the two Senna film tickets?


Yes, they were informed by email


Todt to me has been what the sport has been crying out for many years. The ridiculous politics and posturing of his predecessor have been replaced by practicality and consistency. I could not have imagined things being this good under Todt, he actually gives a sense of respectability to the sport.

I don't accept the green issue from the FIA, because the biggest effort the sport can do in that line is to cease to exist. But it's understandable when this is thrown at him whenever he is in discussions with manufacturers and sponsors to take the sport forward. As for Ecclestone, he's always going to go into overdrive if anyone glances at his wallet.


I hope Bernie wins this one. 4 Cyl Turbos with an 11 000 RPM cap? Please, that's almost a street engine. F1 motors should be as exotic as the cars themselves, preferably something nutty like a 1.5L V16!

Michael Prestia

Can someone explain what the purpose of the FIA is in terms of Formula1? I've watched the sport for decades now and still don't understand their role? Do they enforce rules or make rules? I compare F1 to the National Hockey League and the league enforces rules and regulations not the International Ice Hockey Federation so why can't F1 makes its own rules and police itself with well appointed officials??? I see the FIA the same way I see Unions... they had a place in history but they are useless now.


Well if you read the Bower book on Bernie, the one thing that keeps coming up is Who owns F1? The $360 million would appear to be an indicator that the FIA owns it and has licenced the commercial rights exploitation to BE. So I guess that's the FIA's role. If you want the F1 world championship, you need the FIA.


I would argue that we do not need the "FIA F1 World Championship" any more than we need CVC draining vast sums out of our sport.

To remain successful, a sport needs to be run in a way that attracts and retains a large number of viewers and spectators :

What the spectators want is exciting racing on great circuits at affordable prices. Bernie is right : this almost certainly can't be achieved with four cylinder 1600cc engines as the FIA propose.

The TV viewer want's exactly the same thing, preferably on a free-to-air HD Channel.

As most enthusiasts are European, Japanese or Australian, the preferred circuits are those traditional venues with history and character.

Clearly at least one US race is vital for attracting sponsors and to build a US following.

What we certainly do not want are races in front of empty grandstands on desert circuits that on TV look indistinguishable from a Playstation game.

I strongly supported the last breakaway proposal and the only way that enthusiasts are going to see racing as they want to see it is if CVC and it's insatiable appetite for cash is taken out of the sport.

In the FIA we now have a second organisation that's determined to use F1 as a Milsch Cow to finance Road Safety campaigns and extravagant junkets for an elite group of VIPs from the National Clubs.

Both FOM and the FIA need to be extremely careful : The teams could easily set up their own independent organising body whose only responsibility ( and expense ) would be to oversee the sport.

They could take ten of the existing teams, add a few more professionally run and properly funded outfits and run a World Championship under another name.

This time it could happen : as long as Ferrari, McLaren and a majority of the other teams remain united. FOM might have excusive clauses in it's circuit agreements but I'm sure the EU would strike these down as being anti-competitive.

When the chips are down, CVC and and Todt need to remember that "F1" is simply one letter and a number, nothing more.

One thing is certain, if everyone's favourite Octogenarian is still around, he and Charlie will be organising it in some way or other.


"As most enthusiasts are European, Japanese or Australian..."

The biggest TV markets tend to be China and Brazil.


C. Sheldrake you are spot on, 10 points.

It was Luca d M who I feel was more responsible

then anyone else to vave M. Mosely goodbuy.

What are the odds from 2013 on a diferent name

for single seater racing I would say 6/4 on if

the regulation stay as they are.

Bear in mind Luca d M only need Merceedes to

join him and they control a half a grid.

The sooner the better as current F1 is dying

slowly but surely.



I found your comments very interesting. Thanks for posting them.

F1 is the pinnacle of motor sport because everyone says it is. It is the soap opera side that fascinates the TV viewing crowd and is the weakness of events such as the WSC, Le Mans and such as the cars have multiple drivers. So F1 has a head start.

Television is the key though. What makes F1 the pinnacle is the audience world wide. I’d suggest that if they had 120 minute races in a closed wheel series with attractive cars and single drivers then we could have the population changing ‘sides’. If the BBC, under their new boss, discards F1 coverage as it encourages too many viewers then one wonders where it will go. ITV can’t afford it and Sky made a pigs ear of it last time. Some teams had more people working on a car during a pit stop than Sky had viewers.


Much will depend on what Todt manages to broker between the teams and CVC. I’m not sure which side is negotiating from strength but as you say, the teams could quite easily turn their backs on both FOM and the FIA.

I think that with regards European circuits there have already been one or two comments about restricted contracts but it suits no one at the moment to push it. However, the teams were allowed considerable concessions last time and there is nothing more enticing that a little bit of success.

Unlike you I wasn’t a big supporter of the breakaway series proposal as it seemed to have been rushed in organisation and planning. However, I’m glad the threat was raised as it did, in essence, enable a new head of the FIA to be imposed. An overwhelming victory there for the teams.

Poorly planned is probably not something you will be able to suggest about the teams’ plans this time around. I would assume that their desires have been approached with the same meticulous planning as the Red Bull nose.

Bernie gives the impression of being under a bit of pressure with his constant playing up to the press of late. A few years ago he would not have bothered. Now the FIA seems to want a cut of the commercial rights as do the teams. A common interest would make a very powerful lobby.

There have been few rumours doing the rounds as to the state of the negotiations – shame on you James – and I would assume that means things have not reached crisis point yet.

Whether Bernie wants to carry on into his 80s is of no consequence. What is important is whether his value as a representative of CVC is still appreciated. If he gets nowhere with Todt and the teams then I would assume his usefulness is limited.

The biggest losers here could well be CVC as they have the biggest income for little outlay. F1 is the major source of income for the FIA but a massive amount has just been cut so they do not want the status quo to continue. They can call Bernie’s bluff to an extent. The imponderable is the teams.

Ferrari, McLaren and others are in it for the business of course, but the sport is vital to them. Red Bull will take wings if the coverage shrinks, as will other sponsors. Both McL and Ferrari can take their skills elsewhere.

Any void will be filled, that is in the nature of voids. There is no avoiding it. If F1 ceases to be patronised by Ferrari and, to a lesser extent, McL then F1 ceases to exist, regardless of its name, at least in the short term.

Change for change sake is bad for anything, let alone a sport that depends so much, perhaps entirely for its financial success, on image.

Too close to call at the moment.

Nice post, Chris.


Todt has impressed, of that there can be little doubt. Even those who were critical of him during his campaign must admit that. The sport has improved massively since his take-over. Well done.

But he talking politics now, spin by another name. The rights sale was met with absolute bewilderment by most commentators once the price came out. And I seem to remember the EU court had something to say on the matter. I wonder if Todt would have allowed the same price.

CVC has control of the F1 name. Much emphasis has been placed on this but I would suggest that, unlike the commercial rights, it is massively overpriced. There is nothing to stop the teams from leaving and going to another branch of motor sport or inventing one of their own.

The FIA, FOCA and CVC will face one another in a ring soon. This interview with Todt is nothing more than posing at the weigh-in. Muscle flexing of the crudest form. Ferrari has been bought off before and I would assume the same MO could possibly be tried again as it was so successful. Their decision on this will be critical for the health of our sport.

Perhaps much will depend on their performance this season but one wonders what the other competitive teams might think if Ferrari are again given concessions with regards to rule making and income.

Ferrari, for all their being the biggest pull in F1, needs the other teams as much as they need them. Tilt the playing field too much and there might be little attraction to the sport. McLaren might well feel it more important to invest more directly in their sports car production.

There is no given right for F1 to be the pinnacle of motor sport. All it takes is a lack of investment in other branches. Was it only his history that made Todt encourage WRC rather than WSC.

Eccs’ outbursts tend to suggest he is not entirely happy with the way things are going. We have no idea of how the negotiations are progressing but the teams seem to be keeping quiet and Todt’s bit to the press is less than confrontational. Is Eccs beginning to see the advantages of the annual heating allowance now that he is feeling the cold?

Todt gives the impression of being primarily an enthusiast for motor sport, not something that we could ever criticise Mosley for, and his loyalty is apparently beyond question if his time in Ferrari is anything to go by. He will fight the FIA’s corner and if he has to choose between CVC and the teams then this mention of renegotiation of the commercial rights seems to indicate which he might well favour.

2013 brings massive change, unfortunately at a time when F1 would appear to be in the strongest position for some time, with sensible leadership and exciting racing. Let’s enjoy it. And hope it lasts. Its fate is to be decided by three power blocks, each one struggling for supremacy. Not a situation that fill one with confidence in a reasonable outcome.


Thanks for your comments Harvey : we agree on prettty much eveything here.

We all know that, whatever name it's run under, the World's premier motor racing series has to have Ferrari and and McLaren at it's heart. As a long term enthusiast, I would add Williams to the list rather than Red Bull but that's probably not going to be the majority view !

The crucial difference between the current negotiations and the situation that existed when the last breakaway was threatened is that there's currently no sign of a split between Ferrari and the rest of the teams.

They are all engaged in a multi-billion dollar poker game and as long as FOTA holds together and the teams play their hand skillfully, it's a game that they cannot easily lose.

FOM and CVC are not in a strong position and I would argue that when the chips are down, the FIA has such a weak hand that it will be little more than a spectator. Todt must know that he's bluffing.

As many others have said, something is very wrong if Grand Prix are run at a loss

despite tickets cost $300-400 and something needs to be done about it.

Unfortunately I can smell compromise in the air and, not having a seat at the table, it seems unlikely that spectators will see any significant fall in ticket prices.


Hi James,

Just read your article on the electric car championship and it's good to see that EU and FIA are pushing for "greener" technologies.

I was wondering though what is the true environmental impact of an electric car? Issues that I can think of are the source of the electricity (nuclear, coal burning power plants vs solar, wind), the impact of mining for exotic materials to make the higher capacity batteries, and the amount of energy used to make the chassis (steel vs aluminum vs carbon fibre).

Would you be interested in writing an article on these?

Thank you!


I can do better than that - I've got a website devoted to the subject of EVs - http://www.thechargingpoint.com

Michael Grievson

A new site added to my favourites. Do you ever sleep James?


Cool site and needed.



I'm a bit confused as to why Jean Todt said:

"15 years ago you didn’t have all the sophisticated electronics you can enjoy today when you watch the TV. All that has a cost. Definitely we need to take that in consideration because I must make sure that the funding for the FIA is correct."

But surely the cost of providing all of those extra TV feeds is borne by FOM, not the FIA? The only TV-related upgrades the FIA need to do is to to the monitors in Race Control, I would have thought.

Or is it just lost-in-translation, and what he was trying to say was "...all those extra TV rights provide extra revenue [to FOM, which they could pass onto the FIA]. Definitely...", do you think? That would make sense, but it seems quite a long way away from what he was actually saying.

Or have I just missed something entirely?


I think he's talking about the internet, mobile and the feeds that are possible now which are revenue generating


Thanks for the reply, James. So he did mean "generates revenue" rather than "has a cost" then! Thanks again.


James, thank you for giving us a part of the interview you had with Jean Todt, very interesting indeed. I appreciate the fact that he does not get into a war of words with Bernie Ecclestone, which would mean that he's playing by Bernie's rules. The hyperbole from Bernie (thought typical) in my opinion is not so much an expression of disdain for Todt, but that Todt understands quite well what is going on and knows exactly what he is doing. His comment about CVC probably not wanting to sell, yet knowing full well that the FiA has veto power makes me wonder if there isn't going to be a very large power play on the horizon? Would it be possible Todt and the FIA flex their regulatory muscles and recover the commercial rights if CVC attempts to sell to an entity that is deemed,”Not suitable?"


What I got out of that interview is simply that Todt wants more money for his organization. What do FIA actually *do with their money that makes them worthwhile?


I really hope the electric racing series gets off the ground!

That way the attention of the enviromental nutters will hopefully be diverted and F1 can forget KERS etc and return to focusing on pure performance.

I miss the old 900bhp v10s running at 20,000rpm, to see (or rather hear) them in the flesh was jaw dropping, it's simply impossible to explain to someone who has never experienced them first hand how they sounded. The current v8 engines just don't compare and I shudder to think what the 4 cylinder turbos may sound like.

Wishful thinking I know...


Lets have a free engine formula and encourage a move back to V12s.

The V12s and the Matra V12 in particular had a sound that leaves even the V10s way behind.

From an engineering point of view, a V12 is the engine formation that comes closest to being in perfect dynamic balance.

Almost the exact opposite of a four cylinder unit. I think only a V4 is worse than a straight four in this respect.


You could do that, and then, unless you forced people to go back to 1970s aero, you'd not see a pass in the entire race. It'd be like Valencia, but faster and with better sound.


I don't recall there being any problem with overtaking when Colin Chapman introduced ground effect.

As modern F1 Aero has little to do with road car development ( except maybe for cars the Veyron ) you could easily make an argument to do away with it.


Mr Sheldrake 10 points again I do not know

how old you are?, I am walking towards sunset

and I fell in love with F1 when it was raw

and pure when engineers pride them self what

they have created,thus today motoring is so

much safer due to their efforts and it was mainly due to the competition,competition is

a must in everything we do, bi it in the

bedroom,kitchen or the work place,I simply ask

why restrict the engine development?.

I thank you Chris for bringing up the obvious

and remembering the pure motor racing.


Most F1 car makers had to be dragged, kicking and screaming to make their cars safer. It was only driver power that forced them to make the cars safer.


Franko, lets hope that Sunset is still a long way over the horizon for both of us !

I was a track marshall in the late 60s and early 70s : I eventually graduated to F1 and F2 events as well as the RAC Rally when it really was the Rally of Great Britain and not the minor Welsh sprint it has become.

I was lucky enough to be a guest ( well, more of an interloper, really ) in the pits at the famous 1971 Italian Grand Prix won by Peter Gethin in a ( V12 ) BRM

I have two vivid memories of that time : the first is of Ronnie Peterson in practice at Mallory Park taking Gerrards in a Bright red MARCH F2 car. I've never seen a better demonstration of car control.

The second is the glorious sound of Chris Amon's Matra V12 on the pits straight at Monza in 1971. I feel sorry for today's racegoers who can't experience that sound or get anywhere near the action due to the enormous run off areas.

These, and the cost, are the reasons I don't go to F1 races any more, although I won't miss a single race live on TV and I will be getting an essential live fix by taking a short holiday in LeMans on a certain weekend in June.

€60 Euros for the whole LeMans event including every practice session, pit and paddock access and 24 hours of hard racing is a real bargain. No wonder 250,000 will be there.

( Bernie and Co please note ).

I admire today's F1 technology, the skill of the engineers and the commitment of real racers like Lewis and Serbastian Vettel. Equally, I've no time for the tantrums and cynical manipulation practiced by drivers like Alonso.

While I always appreciated Schumacher's skill behind the wheel, I abhorred his complete lack of of understanding of the meaning of sportsmanship which was aided and actively abetted by Todt and his cohorts running Ferrari at the time. ( Who will ever forget that infamous Monaco parking incident or Todt and Brawn's shameful attempts to justify it to the media afterwards ).

F1 is a fabulous, fascinating sport but it needs to do a lot more for it's audience.

Tom from Adelaide

It's funny that whilst F1 is dominated by money, I have been able to enjoy it for so many years at a total cost of the price of one general admission to the Adelaide G.P (paid for by my parents). I can still vividly remember Senna's bright yellow helmet and the red and white of his McLaren standing out in the deluge of rain. (Anyone care to tell me what year this was? I was quite young at the time).

We as fans are a link in the income chain, being that we provide an audience for advertising, but really you can enjoy F1 in most countries with no expenditure at all.

Where I think the FIA has failed is in allowing Bernie to dilute the heritage of Formula 1 with his "Eastern" movement. Hosting an F1 race should be profitable. If it isn't then something is broken. It can be done. Quite easily in fact, just take a look at the Clipsal 500 race weekend here in Adelaide. It's a remarkable success every year.


Todt is really good for the F1 and FIA. After the chaotic dramas with Max on the helm. It was clear that Max leadership was not likeable. F1 had became so boring and only die-hard fans would put up with such boring sport.

Last year was absolutely one of the best year in F1. I think the 2011 will be exciting too. Moreover, WRC's new rules had made things very interesting as well. I'm not saying this is all because of Todt. However, I'm sure he has been taking inputs from people everywhere and make the sport more attractive.

Bernie is a disconnected man who is just afraid of change. As long as there money into his pocket, he will shut up.

As for cheaper tickets. I think Todt is on it as he wants to re-balance the $$$. I'm sure there will be a day when we can see overcrowded GP. Families and friends will come and not just die-hard fans.


>As for cheaper tickets. I think Todt is on it as he wants to re-balance the $$$.<

Never gonna happen. The organizers of each event decide this, I am sure, and its their only way to cover expenses.

And all Todt wants is more money, not "balance", so he'd never actually want to make the pot smaller.


Why should the FIA have a better deal out of F1? They haven't put any of their money into the races. The FIA already have a massive income from licences from all race drivers, track certificates, fines, etc, etc.

More to the point where would they spend this extra revenue? More jobs for the boys?



The vast majority of the comments above, as well as a lot of reporting in the press and, unfortunately, Jean Todt's comments bring the money situation of F1 to question over and again.

As you very well point out, there are contracts and rights in place and it is a real shame that so many people have better ideas. It is also a real shame that Mr Todt himself wants to bring these contracts up again. If things are different 15 years later, how different will they be 25, or 50, or 90 years later?

Do we need this discussion (publicly) every year?

The aim of making this a 100-year agreement was to provide the stability necessary to grow the sport and ensure that those responsible to drive this growth have the financial incentive to do so. After all, by definition F1 will always be a monopoly (like all other sports). Although I agree that FOM probably got a better deal han everyone else, it is what it is.

My question is, to what extent CAN revenue allocations change on the new Concorde Agreement?

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