FIA?s plans for Formula 2 shows Max Mosley wants war with Bernie Ecclestone

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Bruno Senna, iSport, GP2, 2008, 470150

A surprise announcement from today?s FIA World Motor Sports Council today revealed the FIA wishes to set up a new feeder series to Formula 1.

It will be called Formula 2, reviving the name used for a similar series until 1984, before it was replaced by Formula 3000 and, later, GP2.

But why is the FIA proposing to create yet another F1 feeder series when there are already so many? Is this a further sign of a developing was between FIA president Max Mosley and F1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone over control of the sport?

A new entrant in a crowded market

The new F2 seems to be a direct competitor to GP2, which was formed in 2005. In just three seasons it has brought seven new drivers into Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton, Heikki Kovalainen, Nico Rosberg, Timo Glock, Kazuki Nakajima, Nelson Piquet Jnr and Scott Speed.

Not only is it clearly succeeding as a route into F1 it’s very popular with fans as well, providing close and entertaining racing that regularly puts F1 to shame.

If F1 sits at the top of the single-seater motor sports pyramid, GP2 is one of several categories beneath it that form a path to the sport. Any new entrant into this arena would be challenging many established championships, many backed by major car manufacturers.

Renault has the Renault World Series, which Fernando Alonso used en route to F1 (when it was called the Nissan World Series) and which Robert Kubica won in 2005 before being pinched from Renault by BMW’s Mario Theissen. Renault also supplies engines for GP2.

At a lower level BMW runs the Formula BMW series with championships operating in several countries. The new European Formula BMW championship joined GP2 as one of F1’s regular support events at European rounds this year. Timo Glock and Sebastian Vettel are among the graduates of the German series.

Mercedes, Toyota and Volkswagen build engines Formula Three which has long been one of the best routes to F1. Formula Master was started last year plus there are various Formula Renault championships, thew new Superleague Formula, a series for old F3000 cars and more. Even A1 Grand Prix can be considered an F1 feeder championship.

So why does the FIA think this busy market for driver and team talent needs yet another entrant?

The new Formula Two

Although the FIA is supposed to be the regulatory body for world motor racing I doubt they are proposing the creation of Formula Two for the better of the sport.

I think this is a ploy to undermine the GP2 series. Like F1, GP2 is owned by CVC, who purchased it in August last year. Since the revelation of his involvement in a sadomasochistic sex orgy Mosley has accused Ecclestone of attempting to wrest control of the sport from the FIA. Earlier this week Ecclestone denied he was responsible for leaking the details of Mosley’s sordid activities to the press in an attempt to discredit the FIA President.

Rumours abound that Ecclestone may try to lure the manufacturers away from Formula 1 to a new series of his creation, potentially called GP1, according to a rumour on Pitpass. In preparation Mosley is creating Formula 2 as a counterpart to GP2.

According to the FIA F2 will allow teams to compete “within a budget of around ??200,000 a car per season.” This seems unfeasibly cheap – GP2 cars cost ??1.5m per season to run and even Formula BMW costs 50% more than the proposed F2.

A split?

So what we have here is a proposal that seems completely unrealistic and completely unnecessary.

It seems to have been designed simply to provoke a reaction from Ecclestone. But the longer the FIA goes on making moves like this, the more realistic the prospect of F1 splitting into two becomes.

That would be disastrous for Formula 1. Those who are pushing for a fight with Ecclestone should heed the lesson of the CART/IRL split that left open wheel racing in America almost mortally weakened. Anyone who would risk such a thing happening to F1 clearly is too preoccupied with their own selfish ends to be bothered about the consequences for sport.

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32 comments on “FIA?s plans for Formula 2 shows Max Mosley wants war with Bernie Ecclestone”

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  1. I don’t see what the problem is. More series = more competition = more racing = happy fans.

  2. It didn’t work out that way for CART did it?

  3. Would B.Ecclestone & CVC have to approve the new Formula 2 series’ ability to run on F1 weekends as part of the show?

  4. Scott Joslin
    25th June 2008, 21:26

    Internet – But where are these drivers from Formula Two going to go once they are ready to graduate? There is hardly plenty of seats to fill in F1 with the current amount feeder series.

    In my view this news is part of a political power game!

    Plus if Bernie is not prepared to promote the series, who is going to take it on? Did the last F2 series not die because under exposure?

  5. Donwatters – At present, yes, but if Ecclestone and Mosley end up trying to lure the manufacturers/teams to their own different visions of F1/GP1, then who knows how it will play out.

  6. I don’t think that an F1 split would be anything like what happened to CART, in fact I am all for it. I think the FiA’s vision is severely skewed and needs to be removed from the picture. There is no equivalent to NASCAR to steal the thunder of a break away series.

    I think if Bernie manages to create a break away series it will be less of a split and more of an mutiny, there will be no more F1.

    Max has his own agenda, as does Bernie, but at least we know what Bernie’s goals are, and in an indirect way, they are better for the spectator.

  7. Seems to me that the names indicate a natural progression: Formula 3 -> Formula 2 -> Formula 1. Unfortunately there’s so many parallels up the whole tree, it doesn’t necessarily work that way, but it would be wonderful if it did. I’m sure GP2, WSR, etc. would still survive, but it would be nice to have an official FIA-sponsored set of series, with the others simply being considered “alternatives” to the “one true progression”.

    I do like the idea of extremely low budgets in F2, and would hope that F3 could even be 10% or less of the typical F2 budget. How are they planning on regulating it though so that you could actually WIN F2 with $200k (assuming enough talent)? – and presumeably F3 with $20k.

    How great would it then be to see a F4, where annual budgets hovered around $2k. Of course with the low budgets, the lower series would be VERY crowded, but I only see this as a good thing.

    Imagine, with $2k + probably $2k in “operating expenses”, someone could feasibly win F4 at the “national regional”, given enough talent. Then get the sponsorship to improve your “operating expenses” budget to $5k, and now you’re competing at the “international regional” F4 level.

    Now you just need to come up with a $20k+$10k budget to compete at the F3 “international regional” level. Should be easy to do, if you’ve proven yourself by winning the extremely competitive (I would assume) F4 series.

    F2 would then be the next logical progression, and would only exist at the “international” level. F2 would also follow around the F1 series, much like GP2 does now.

    I guess you could argue we have this now, but everyone knows that FF, FV, FBMW, etc. all have budget requirements MUCH higher than $2k or even $20k/year. The lower you make the “initial entry fee”, the more likely you are to get more great drivers. This is probably why many great F1 drivers have come from karting… well at least any who came from not-so-well-off families.

  8. How are the drivers going to go to Formula 2 from a series like formula renault when they could go to GP2. I think it is irrelevant and is retaliation by Mosely. I think through this it could lead to more tension and increase chances over a breakaway series. GP2s quality of racing is good and i think here could be the indication in F1 splitting, Lets hope not. Mosely can’t just try and win power over Ecclestone by starting a feeder series in which we already have in GP2. He is just trying to show to ecclestone and to f1 a split could happen he is not going to be pushed round by him.

  9. I very much doubt that the new Formula 2 feeder will cost $200k. It just sounds like all the “cost reducing” rules set by FIA, that we all now it worked very badly… F2 is just a new war weapon.

    Just like that stupid KERS rule that, rumours say, will force the teams to develop 2 cars to see which one goes better at different types of circuit and obviously spend more money than ever. And they are too killing WRC (sorry for going off-topic).

  10. The whole thing is fantasy and it won’t happen. Racing cars cannot meet modern safety standards at the costs suggested.

    The idea that more formulae is better doesn’t make sense. As it is some drivers manage to get into or close to F1 without racing against the best drivers around. More formulae means that the talent will be spread more thinly. The racing will be worse and it will be a lot harder to assess who is really good and who happens to have a weak field to beat.

  11. Steven: You are probably correct in your comment about safety standards vs costs. Good point. But, hey, why would you want to limit the number of racing opportunities for drivers & fans? Why not just let the market decide what works and what doesn’t? If teams get involved and enough fans show up to make it economically viable…great. If not, so what?

  12. I do like the idea of having a series called Formula 2. But the way the intention has been announced is weird and after some digestion the Max vs Bernie stand off is probably the only explanation.

    Even if we forget about GP2, F2 should be positioned somewhere between F1 and F3. How that can be achieved with budgets lower than what it costs a driver in British Formula 3 to last a season ?

  13. What an idiot!I mean where are they going to race? If Bernie/Flabio have the race weekend for GP2, when is F2 going to race and where? Who wants to plan a weekend around seeing unknowns race cheap cars? Again, I say Max suffers of delusions of adequacy.

  14. will they make a season here mandatory before hitting F1 – surely the flgihts alone must come close to 200,000.

  15. Steven was right about the safety part. If Max is planning for a feeder series at such a low budget, I think, an F2 driver’s next step can’t be F1 it would rather be GP2. (if we really speak about graduation by steps and in order). May be, who knows Max is planning to bring down F1 standards (by rules like current cost cap, engine freeze, test restrictions etc.) to suit his proposed F2.

  16. Who thinks Bernie and/or CVC is not behind Maxgate?

    Has Max’s people said anything yet on possible legal sanction (commercial or criminal) if they can prove a conspiracy via a money trail or otherwise?

    If sponsors see more value in F2 than GP2 the teams will follow. Broadcasting costs to a primarily pay tv GP2 market would be lowered. FIA would get better recovery on safety costs & systems and the F2 teams will benefit fro the flow through of lower event costs for marginal losses of revenue.

    Max has been on top of the legal game so far, and you would suspect CVC/Bernie’s event rights wouldn’t allow them sufficient control to exclude F2 from raceday.

  17. Many years ago , I was a keen tennis supporter (in the days of Boris Becker / Lendl / Willander etc) , then they started , together with the Ladies’ tournaments , having so much on the go it became time consuming and difficult to keep track of and find time to watch. I ended up losing interest completely , to the extent I would not even watch a tennis match today even if I were paid handsomely to do so. And I wonder how many more millions are like myself ? Sure , personally my interest in motorsport far exceeds what it ever was for tennis , but the point is that if they start to promote something excessively , it can eventually lead to a situation where interest in it can in fact become negative ie. “that something special” is lost . I hope between F1/F2/GP2/F3000/A1 etc. that does not eventually become the case.

  18. Robert Mckay
    26th June 2008, 8:39

    I remember when they “dissolved” F3000 and were planning the replacement series a lot of people naturally assumed that the new series would be called Formula 2 and there was genuine surprised from a lot of people when GP2 was announced.

    I think there’s no doubt that this is a provocative move. It’s beginning to have the smell of the 1980’s FISA/FOCA war. Shots being fired across bows by messing with the feeder series before the real fighting breaks out.

    GP2 really like selling themselves on the fact that they are essentially the main F1 feeder series, so an officially sanctioned de facto F1 feeder series is trouble for them. And I suggest that there’s absolutely nothing to stop the FIA deciding that Formula 2 will race as support on Formula 1 weekends, and tell GP2 to sling their hook (presumably when a contract runs out or something). GP2 may need some sort of rebrand to distinguish themselves a bit more, although I think they can do this indeed – theGP2 brand is slowing getting to be a fairly strong one in it’s own right. I think there’s only a danger in saturating the market if all the series are the same.

  19. Apart from the fact that those costs seem unworkable,I can’t see how this is being interpreted as throwing a fly in Bernie’s ointment.

    There are enough series running to F3000 regs already, GP2, WSbR(3.5), Euro F3000, A1GP & “the football club” enigma………so how does one more threaten Bernie.

    BTW, the previous FIA F3000, 1996-2004, proved that it needs a commercial manager – like Briatore/Michel GP2 – & that the FIA were hopeless in running a series.For Gods sake! They never even had a series sponsor or even a engine/badging deal for F3000, or a real prize money pool.Hence, many teams defecting over to the much better run Spanish series (Dallara by Nissan, Renault, World Series) in the early 2000’s.

    The FIA is going to have a hard sell to the teams, imagine telling ART,Super Nova, Dams, iSport,Coloni, FMS, Arden etc to drop GP2 & GP2Asia to run in a another series away from the F1 umbrella.There is a waiting list of teams in Renault 3.5 Pons, Epsilon, KTR, all wanting a GP2 billet…….can’t see them rushing to FIA F2.

    Nope, I don’t get it, & I can’t see how this proposal is a shot over Bernie’s bows.

  20. can anybody explain how gp2 cars compete cuz they cant be developed..
    and i just read in the rules on the GP2 website that first 8 positions in race 1 are reversed in race2. What does this mean?
    BTW GP2 is a great series. love to see GP2 drivers and cars kick b**t of F2 cars.
    What if GP2 and F2 cars compete with each other….(probably the stupidest idea…)

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