The FIA must not let its row with Ferrari become a split that would destroy F1

Ferrari are threatening to leave F1 in 2010 - and so are many other teams

Ferrari are threatening to leave F1 in 2010 - and so are many other teams

The Ferrari board confirmed today it will pull its team out of F1 if the FIA does not back down on its controversial plans for the 2010 rules.

Toyota and Red Bull/Toro Rosso have already voiced the same objections and several F1 news sites are indicating that Mercedes, Renault and BMW are prepared to do the same.

Once again, F1 is threatened by the prospect of a split. Might it ever come to that ?ǣ or is this just the sports? governing body and the teams playing hard ball?

The FIA’s plan to introduce advantageous technical rules for budget capped teams is at the heart of the matter.

Ferrari’s statement makes reference to its displeasure at how the FIA has handled the regulations talks, which seems a thinly-veiled criticism of Max Mosley’s governance with the FIA president elections five months away.

The importance of Ferrari

It is hard to believe Mosley would seriously be happy with driving Ferrari away.

At the same meeting where the budget cap was announced the FIA confirmed it would ban in-race refuelling from 2010. The teams had lobbied hard for this because of the cost of transporting 20 refuelling rigs around the world.

Mosley stood his ground at first, insisting that refuelling was a vital part of ??The Show?. If he can?t see that, for a large number of fans, Ferrari are a much more important part of ??The Show?, then he shouldn?t be running F1.

One man who does understand how important Ferrari are is Bernie Ecclestone. He?s been conspicuously trying to build bridges between the teams and the FIA since last week when Mosley uttered those infamous ?ǣ and patently incorrect – words that F1 would not suffer without Ferrari.

Similarly, Ecclestone understands the importance of keeping the major car manufacturers in F1. Not only do they bring a substantial amount of money into Formula 1, but there are suggestions some of his deals with broadcasting companies are contingent upon teams like Ferrari appearing at the races.

Can budget capping work?

The FIA’s Tony Purnell has admitted that ??30m (the original proposed budget limit) is the minimum they calculate an F1 team can be run for. A sensible solution to get to that limit would involve the teams gradually cutting their expenditure from one year to the next.

Instead Mosley has chosen the route of maximum antagonism – demanding teams slash their budgets by 90% overnight to hit a ??40m limit (excluding marketing fees and driver salaries).

But all that pre-supposes that budget capping is feasible to begin with.

The FIA cannot demand that all F1 teams adhere to a budget cap as it cannot legally assume the right to inspect their finances. That’s why it has adopted the ‘two-tier’ solution – offering teams that voluntarily choose the budget cap massive performance advantages.

But the teams were never going to accept such an obvious manipulation of the rules without a fight.

The danger of a split

Some fans have suggested they would like to see a FOTA-led split in F1, with the car manufacturers forming their own series.

They ignore the lessons of history at their peril. Such a split destroyed the open-wheel racing scene in America. The once strong Indy Car championship has been relegated to the status of a minor national championship in America since its 1995 division.

A split in F1 would not only be a tragedy for the sport, but the whole of motor racing. There are no other major international motor racing championships that are a fraction as popular. The fans, the teams, the FIA, the money men – we would all be losers in this scenario.

Instead of petitioning for a split (which rather smacks of turkeys voting for Christmas) fans should be campaigning for an outbreak of common sense in the upper echelons of the sport.

The only sensible way to resolve this is for Luca di Montezemolo, as head of FOTA, to hammer out an agreement with Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone. I do not believe that Ecclestone and Mosley are any more likely to let Ferrari go now than they were four years ago, when they handed over $100m to keep them in the sport until 2012 (Where was Mosley’s “we don’t need Ferrari” sentiment then?)

FOTA need to get their act together and find a candidate for the October FIA election who will work with them, not against them. It is time F1 were governed responsibly without every little disagreement making international headlines and destroying the sport’s credibility.

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143 comments on The FIA must not let its row with Ferrari become a split that would destroy F1

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  1. sasbus said on 12th May 2009, 19:29

    F1 will not do without Ferrari.

    But

    It would do nicely without Mosley.

    • EGC said on 12th May 2009, 21:45

      Yep, and without Bernie…

    • Ronman said on 15th May 2009, 14:10

      It would be interesting to see if it’s possible for F1 to live without Ferrari. however it would help immensely if Mosley was replaced soon.

      I have a feeling that if Todt were to become FIA president, things would run very smoothly, we have to remember that as much as he is a Ferrari man, he is a dedicated professional, that has excelled in every job he has done so far.

      however, if Ferrari does end up splitting and splintering into FIA GT, and other series they will still be under FIA authority most possibly, and they will always clash with FIA at some point.

      In my case i would keep watching f1, because at the end it will make the most sense even without the reds…
      p.s: I’ve been a dedicated Ferrari fan since the 1995 season… (after Senna died actually)but firstly I’m an F1 fan…

  2. Hear, hear.

  3. Tim said on 12th May 2009, 19:42

    think its time to get rid of mosley and maybe even Bernie who is just stealing money from the sport

    • Chris said on 12th May 2009, 21:32

      From how i understand it Bernie took all of his money out when he sold out to CVC (he now gets paid a wage – all be it a very hansom one!!!!)

      However i do agree that CVC are stealing money and unfortantly that is not going to change as they have borrowed so much money against F1 as an asset there hands are tied. Also as a side note if CVC dont get paid so much money either due to less revenues from circuits or else then F1 could effectivly be repossed like any asset by the banks one of which is RBS and sold to the highest bidder (i actually think that this is not such a remote a suggestion as it seems) as CVC has borrowed way to much since 1999-2007 CVC bought 52 companies all of which they borrowed almost 100% of the sale price.

      And just to show these are not small companies these are only the UK companies that CVC own;
      – Acromas (the AA and Saga)
      – Debenhams
      – Gartland Whalley and Barker (Huge Devloper)
      – Hozelock
      – IG Group (Spread Betting Firm)
      – PC Cox Limited (Engineering Firm)
      – Oh and F1!!!!!

      Lets remember these are only the UK companies now all of these companies are suffering from CVC massive debt if you were CVC and had to let one go which one would you let fail – my bet would be on F1

      So in conclusion to my very long winded post (i am sorry)
      – CVC have to keep taking too much money out of F1 to pay debt (milking F1 to 120%)
      – CVC may have to sell F1 if the money crisis goes on to long.

      If only F1 was owned by the teams and not by CVC they could take a 85% stake of the Profit instead of 50% and then they could have a 100million budget of which 60million could easily come from TV revenue. But if that was the case Bernie would not be a billionare.

    • Achilles said on 13th May 2009, 6:35

      I agree with Chris here, and he has outlined it beautifully, I would add that had the teams been a little more prudent over the last decade, and the FIA acted sooner, then this particular episode would be a storm in a teacup, so it,s no good blaming individuals as they are only the figureheads. My personal thought is that F1 can live on without Ferrari, or the other manufacturers, in what form I’m not sure, but the infrastructure that brings it to the world is well sorted, and sure, the audiences may dwindle, should the big names withdraw, but the manufacturers are always on the verge of pulling out, albeit not Ferrari. New names would emerge, and providing the show was still as strong maybe the audience could be built back up. One thought would be: Find a really good Chinese driver, in a Chinese backed car, there’s half the audience already….

  4. Fernando said on 12th May 2009, 19:45

    F&*K the FIA F&*K Mosley. We definitely need some restructuring at the top of that food chain. We the fans should form a petition to oust Max and his tyranny once and for all.

  5. Fernando said on 12th May 2009, 19:48

    Here you go lets get this started!

    http://www.petitiononline.com/FIAMaxM/petition.html

    • zplol said on 12th May 2009, 22:37

      this petition is dated from 05 and dosen’t even have 200 signatures lol

    • mp4-19 said on 13th May 2009, 11:06

      its very old!!!so many unpleasant events have occured after 2005. spygate,spankgate,chichanegate,diffusergate,capgate. are these online petitions are of any worth? its just a waste of server space. i’ll bemax will continue to destroy f1 as he likes. he’ll be even more upset after his son’s death. all that anger will show on the sport. max mosley reminds me of a very well know dictator. that dictator wanted to rule the world,just like how mosley expects the teams to bow down to his demands. this budget cap thing is pure blackmailing by mosley. i’m really astonished to know that he has not even spared ferrari!! it is because of the teams like ferrari,mclaren,williams the sport is so famous.he’s shooting himself in the feet. please max get back to your senses. if he continues in the same manner,it’ll not be long before he ends up at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences hospital.

  6. Surely Teams with big budgets spend money with countless other businesses, ultimately providing work for thousands of people worldwide.

    Cap their budgets to £40 million and the cost cutting will surly result in businesses currently involved in F1 loosing out?

    Let them spend, and let the sport live!

  7. Gman said on 12th May 2009, 19:49

    I am not a Ferrari fan by any measure, but I agree with Keith and many of you that it is essential for Ferrari to be an active and healthy participant in the championship. Many aspects of the sport are so strongly connected to Ferrari that their loss as a participating constructor is perhaps the one that absolutely cannot be allowed to happen.

    I agree with Max that cost-cutting has to be accomplished, but the gradual step-down approach is indeed the best idea. It’s very difficult for teams that spend big money to stop spending it, and I’m sure a reasonable step-down approach could be worked out if some common-sense logic was applied.

    Lastly, the point about the split destroying the IndyCar series is absolutely correct. The new version is better than the two separate series, but is nowhere near the level it was before the split.

  8. Phil said on 12th May 2009, 19:58

    I would love to see Ron Dennis stand for the FIA election, the look on Moselys face alone would be priceless.

  9. Moyletra said on 12th May 2009, 20:13

    Perhaps if we had budget capping we would not have lost Jordan, Minardi, Arrows, Tyrell, Lotus, Ligier/Prost, Marcdh, Super Aguri etc?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th May 2009, 20:57

      Perhaps but in a sense I think that asks a more interesting question – why have the FIA waited so long to act?

      F1 entry numbers have been 22 or lower since 1995 (with one exception – see hre F1 season driver entries, 1980-2009). Yet the FIA persisted for years with its $48m bond for new teams, stopping them from entering. It allowed Cosworth to be priced out of F1 engine supplies only four years ago, and is now trying to bring them back.

      Low team numbers has been a problem for over a decade – Mosley has for whatever reason chosen to ignore it until now.

    • Gman said on 12th May 2009, 21:37

      I agree with you guys, and I believe the tipping point was Honda’s exit from the sport last year. Until that point, I think there were many people who always believed there would be big companies with plenty of cash lining up to enter the sport. When one of those apparently indestructible entries went under, the panic alarms started sounding….

    • Keith Collantine

      Low team numbers has been a problem for over a decade

      Why have they been a problem?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th May 2009, 19:30

      The fewer cars you have in a race the less entertaining it is – and F1′s been below its upper limit on entries (26/24 at different times) for well over a decade.

      Then you have the vulnerability issue – the fewer teams you have, the more of a concern it is if one pulls out. Hence the very real fears this winter that Honda’s pull-out would leave F1 with only 18 competitors.

    • The fewer cars you have in a race the less entertaining it is

      I think that’s misguided belief if you’ll excuse me for saying so, it doesn’t take into account the relative competitiveness of the cars or drivers, the technological prowess of the cars, the nature of the circuits, the standard of television coverage or what people actually find entertaining.

      Would say IndyCar is more entertaining than F1 because it has more competitors?

  10. James_mc said on 12th May 2009, 20:13

    Phil – that would be fantastic actually! I still like the idea of JYS, unfortunately the Fred Goodwin stuff has made him look a little foolish…. Actually I hear he’s out of a job….

    What about Brundle? Or DC? Or even the Cobbler?

  11. Internet said on 12th May 2009, 20:32

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Ferrari out of F1. Most of their fans are glory hunters anyway.

    In a few years time, someone will be on top and it will be Ferrari who?

    • Fernando said on 12th May 2009, 20:52

      I am not a Ferrari fan by any means but I do support them because I support Massa and any Brazilian driver in fact, Rubens and (swallow) Pique Jr. But I don’t think that Ferrari leaving is good for anyone. That’s like NASCAR without Chevy, it’s just not right. Even thought I don’t even watch NASCAR, I still know that Chevy plays a huge part in that sport.

  12. But it won’t be a split if all teams go away!

    It would be just a get away from the FIA and Mosley.

  13. Billy7766 said on 12th May 2009, 20:51

    I can’t say I’d miss Ferrari, or that I think they make F1. But I could say the same about Moseley

  14. steve said on 12th May 2009, 20:54

    Oh dear did the little Ferrari start losing, does it think it can stamp its little feet and get its own way…..ah wont it be able to buy its way out of incompetence….ah bless.

    F1 does not depend on Ferrari and McLaren winning.

    F1 survived the loss of BRM (who?), Cooper, Vanwall, Maseratti, Auto Union, Alfa Romeo or even the holy of holy Lotus.

    Of course they wont leave F1 its posturing, they need F1 to sell their kit cars to rich people.

    • steve said on 12th May 2009, 20:56

      Oh yes and all the other Moyletra beat me to……he make a brilliant point I think. The huge sums Ferrari spent have ruined the integrity of the sport.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th May 2009, 20:59

      The huge sums Ferrari spent have ruined the integrity of the sport.

      I think that’s nonsense – Ferrari aren’t even the biggest spenders: Toyota has $445.6m F1 budget.

      There has never previously been a constraint on what teams could spend, so why should they have limited it before hand? Unless they wanted to lose, which is hardly the ethos of Formula 1, is it?

    • Gman said on 12th May 2009, 21:39

      Indeed Keith, we could point to Toyota’s mega-contract with Ralf as perhaps the biggest waste of money in F1 history- sorry Clare ;)

    • What about the Mike Gascoigne mega contract that all ended rather hillariously.

    • Kayleigh said on 13th May 2009, 10:37

      I agree F1 does not depend on Ferrari and McLaren winning.

      But I think it does depend on them being there, half the fun at the moment is the fact they are both being beaten (despite being a Kimi fan).

      I’m not a glory supporter, I’m not even a Ferrari supporter as far as I’m concerned they are dirty cheaters (well they were when they had Ross Brawn to take the rules to their limits and win an argument when brought up on it by the FIA) but I’ve followed my driver from Sauber/McLaren and now to the red team.

      If the FIA want to keep pleasing all the casual fans out there, then allowing the majority of the big names to leave will ruin the sport.

  15. janis1207 said on 12th May 2009, 20:54

    Well, F1 has lived another life cycle, and is getting ready to start a new one. Like when Ballestre was ousted.

    Ron Dennis has moved on, Jean Todt has moved on, to say nothing of Eddie Jordan, Jackie Stewart and many others of that generation. It’s time for Bernie&Max to move on as well.
    F1 can’t really be run by people who should have been safely retired years ago. New blood is needed to keep it vigorous!

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