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

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

  1. motion said on 26th June 2008, 6:59

    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.

  2. Jean said on 26th June 2008, 8:23

    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.

  3. Robert Mckay said on 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.

  4. peterg said on 26th June 2008, 8:52

    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.

  5. f1freak said on 26th June 2008, 10:01

    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…)

  6. George said on 26th June 2008, 10:39

    Joe Saward offers an interesting analysis of the situation over at grandprix.com – http://www.grandprix.com/ns/ns20510.html. These are interesting times.

  7. Sush said on 26th June 2008, 11:23

    the FISA/FOCA, FIA/FOM and the Balestres/mosley wars seems like a story arc from star wars.

  8. Given the FIA’s track record, I wouldn’t be surprised if they missed something massive out of their calculations. So far, their “cost-cutting” has made F1 more expensive, so expect F2’s $200,000 to turn into about $3-6m a season. There’s no reason why GP2 could not continue to be the prime feeder series, and a series based on cost-cutting will not have sufficient racing or technical capability to bridge between F3 and F1 properly anyway (F1 teams don’t think in terms of cost-cutting, even if feeder formulae sometimes must!)

  9. There’s a field of unused Panoz DPO1 chassis sitting quietly somewhere …

  10. Ray said on 26th June 2008, 13:00

    Max is a child. this move proves it. Long live a breakaway, where teams are free to compete without personal vendettas from the FIA, stupid costly rule changes, or separate deals for different teams.

    Max has techincal regulation changes on the agenda. That should strike fear in the heart of every team principle.

  11. Max doesn’t get it. The FIA are supposed to REGULATE sport, not create it! The extent of his personal animosity and vengeance seeking is unbounded and exceeded only by his ego and vanity.

    Just the kind of guy we need running and ruining a world wide organization. The remaining time of his term in office will be spent ‘effin over the sport and his enemies (anyone who disagrees with him) as opposed to making anything better. And I thought Nixon was bad!

  12. The point made earlier by cgmasson is an interesting one.

    Surely Max can make it so that no driver can drive for an F1 team without either having previously driven for an F1 team or having at least 1 years experience in F2.

    He’s in a monopoly position. It would suit him to abuse it.

  13. Gman said on 27th June 2008, 5:09

    Given the samll number of available seats on the F1 grid each season, and the amount of drivers groomed to setp into those precious few vacancies, it’s hard to see where many of the F2 drivers would end up. Indeed, more chances to prove him/herself for a driver would be good. But F1 dosen’t have a NASCAR-style grid with 40+ seats each week, so F2 would probably just create more drivers looking for an F1 ride.

    Unless the FIA made a great case for it, I just can’t see any case for anything of this sort.

  14. Oliver said on 27th June 2008, 9:48

    Gman- So true, drivers coming up, cant even aim to be test drivers.

  15. Chris Wait said on 27th June 2008, 12:37

    Can someone answer me a question. All of the ‘support race’ vehicles are prepared away from the pits in the paddock, but what happens to all the formula one gear/ signs/ equipment cars etc when there is, for example…a GP2 feature race or Porsche supercup race on? Are there like 100 pit garages or do Mclaren et al have to share their fuel rigs and pitboxes with isport GP2 team or similar?

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