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

  1. HounslowBusGarage said on 12th May 2009, 20:55

    Well I wonder what the real agendae are (I think the plural is agendae!).
    Is FOTA including Ferrari deliberately playing hardball at this stage in order to put pressure on Mosley to relax the limit a bit, maybe delay it for another season. Or is the FOTA threat “You agree to retire Max, and we will sign up to race next year”?
    Or maybe it’s a real money-based threat. Toyota, Mercedes Benz and FIAT are all losing money, so maybe they are all looking for a face-saving way of exiting the sport – something like “We cannot work with the budget cap, or Max or Bernie, so wer’re leaving” rather than “We can longer afford it”.
    Is Max knocking down the FOTA objections one by one, like a good salesman. Is he going to close the price like this – “So you agree that some kind of cap is a good idea?”
    “Yes Max.”
    “But £60m is too low?”
    “Yes Max.”
    “But otherwise you’d go for it?”
    “Yes Max”
    “So what would you accept? £100m”
    “Maybe £120m we could do, Max”
    “£120 it is gentlemen! Sign here.”
    And then next season, the cap goes down to £90m.

    • LynnD said on 12th May 2009, 21:29

      ‘Agenda’ is the plural – ‘agendum’ is the singular. So each person may have an agendum or multiple agenda. :-)

      I wish Max would do the decent thing and stick with his agreement not to stand again, but he’s not very familiar with the concept of decency is he?

    • Kayleigh said on 13th May 2009, 10:39

      If it was money related then they would all be chomping at the bit to sign up.

      I wish Max would do the decent thing and stick with his agreement not to stand again, but he’s not very familiar with the concept of decency is he?

      Totally agree!

    • You say agenda and I say agendas….

    • Bas said on 13th May 2009, 12:41

      @ HounslowBusGarage LynnD

      Agenda is latin for ‘the things that must be done’

      at some point someone thought of writing ‘these’ down in a book, and then to order them by date, like a calendar. They still kept to calling it ‘the agenda’ in English, until the word had become synonymous with the book.

      Nowadays, english dictionaries will list agenda as a singular word, and agendas as its plural form. The english langauge contains an enormous vocabulary, but ‘agendum’ is no part of it and could therefore only be used when indicating that it is an unintegrated loan word. So people may have an ‘agendum’ or multiple ‘agenda’, which they may wish to write down in their agendas.
      Since the people involved in this powerbrokering game each have a different series of interests to consider, they are said each to ‘have a different/separate agenda’, nad when one person appears not to defend his proper interests, one may suspect he has ‘more than one agenda’.

      Agendae is also correct in Latin, but it means either ‘from the female (thing) that must be done/processed’, ‘for/to the female (thing) that must be done/processed’ or ‘the female(-s/ things) that must be done/processed)’. None of these is applicable since one speaks of things that must be done in general, the gender of which is irrelevant, hence the neutral form.

      writing or saying agendae is probably one of the worst expressions of pseudo-intellect, because it is incorrect in both english and latin.

    • lmao Bas that has to be the best post I’ve read today on any message board on any site. Hilarious! Normally I despise posts by grammar Nazi’s but I think a lecture in etymology falls firmly outside such realms, very interesting and very funny.

  2. S Hughes said on 12th May 2009, 20:58

    I’ve been advocating a split for a while now. I cannot see how F1 can continue while Mosley who seems to really think he is bigger than the teams and fans, is in charge. I agree with Keith that it would be tragic, but how can you drum sense into someone like Mosley? If you could, Ferrari wouldn’t be doing what they are doing now. They realise it just could be a hopeless case. Mosley needs to go because his intransigence is ruining F1. I’m not a Ferrari fan, but it isn’t just Ferrari who isn’t happy – it seems that all the teams, the drivers and the fans aren’t happy with a 2 tier system either. F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and although we are in a recession, cutting back on staff and implementing rule changes every year thus spending more money, is certainly not helping the economy or the reputation of F1. I say the idiots who voted Mosley in again after his sordid scandal should be hanging their heads in shame. There was a real opportunity there to sweep out the rubbish. Maybe just maybe a breakaway series might work if all the teams were involved. I don’t know but it can’t be worse than this circus show.

  3. steve said on 12th May 2009, 21:17

    Keith Collantine: If there is no budget cap there will be no F1 – its simple. One maybe two big corporations slugging it out with no one watching.

    Its no answer to say there has never been a budget cap before – there has never been global financing on this scale before. Why did the FIA wait so long – they were getting off on the big money like everyone else.

    • IDR said on 13th May 2009, 6:52

      If there is no budget cap there will be no F1

      Well all of us are talking about costs, when the main issue are REVENUES.

      As far as I know, the biggest part of the total revenues are managed by FOM, not by FIA.

      Max Mosley is acting as “the bad cope”. Is Bernie who should negociate with FOTA a new Concorde Agreement, he (Bernie) is representing CVC interests.

      Meanwhile, all of us (FANS) are quite busy talking about costs, technical regulations…

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th May 2009, 19:35

      Well all of us are talking about costs, when the main issue are REVENUES.

      As far as I know, the biggest part of the total revenues are managed by FOM, not by FIA.

      Good point – it’s two sides of the same coin, really, if the teams were getting more money then it stands to reason the cap could be higher. When the FIA announced the £40m it had been increased by £10m, but suddenly Ecclestone was offering the teams an extra £10m, so arguably there was no material difference.

  4. Cameron said on 12th May 2009, 21:21

    Without those old teams like Ferrari, McLaren and Williams F1 would begin falling apart. Especially if they were to break away, take other teams with them, and Launch another elite motorsport series such as GP1 or something like that. Hell, Ron Dennis and Jean Todt could run it! ;)

  5. scunnyman said on 12th May 2009, 21:22

    I would say that Formula One could stand the loss of a team like Ferrari, it would just take a few years for the sport to get used to it. Formula One is bigger than any one team, and should not be held to ransom by it.
    However at a time like this i do not think F1 should lose one of it’s biggest assets. I stopped being a Ferrari F1 team admirer the day Schumacher joined them because he had already started to ruin F1 when he was at Benneton.
    As for the fans wishing for FOTA to go it alone and make a new series, it is really just asking for the removal of the two elements causing the biggest upset to formula one in recent years (however much you may think Bernie has done for the sport in the past).For one thing, if all teams agreed to a split from F1 then it would not be a split as was the case with indy car. It would mean the same sport we have now with the same teams and more perhaps. We would just have the sport we love run, hopefully, with better rules and better management, with a fairer share of the money generated from and for the sport and the teams and the tracks and the fans.
    It would be wrong to say that a different series for all the teams would be bad. But i do think that what the fans really want is to get rid of Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone as they are seen to be the ones responsible for the downturn in the quality of F1 these days.
    All these rules changes year in and year out just undermine the soul of the sport.

    What is needed is a level headed and clear approach to running F1 for the future. Some one needs to be in charge of FIA who can be seen to run the sport in a fair way.
    In the end what if F1 without it’s fan base if they all leave because none of the fan’s teams are there to support?

  6. sean said on 12th May 2009, 21:26

    None of the manufacturer’s have said the will leave due to the huge cost’s involved in the sport.These statements are only coming from MAX.The lose of FERRARI would be the largest sporting story ever!People must realise that even if the don’t like ferrari they have the largest fan base of any team in the world.The TV companies know this and the track owners know this MAX & BERNIE wouldn’t have much fun selling their product without the largest draw card on the sideline’s.

  7. Tom said on 12th May 2009, 21:30

    yay, we’re going to have US GP 2005 all year round!!

  8. Jess said on 12th May 2009, 21:38

    I can see F1 Living with out Ferrari or many of the other big names if need be. There are others out there who will be waiting in the back to replace them. I am for a budget but not a two tier system. I think the FIA and the Teams should be talking so this issue could be resolved. I see two things that can kill F1 and that is a split and then reducing F1 to a Spec series (we have pleanty of them and notice how many are on the TV).

  9. sasbus said on 12th May 2009, 21:47

    What we have today in F1 is a complete turmoil of rules which may be applied for some but not for all. I thought that we will see green initiatives such as KERS – Surprise the Brown outfit does not even consider it and are winning. Double diffuser – Brown starts winning and FIA approves not to loose face. I have been saying since the start of the season this is by far the worst season yet. As things stand today there is no direction in F1.

  10. Hammad said on 12th May 2009, 21:54

    I wouldn’t mind a split the way things are going. It’s time the teams took things into their own hands and came up with a real racing series, where the main focus is the racing, not bickering.

  11. Hammad said on 12th May 2009, 21:58

    And btw, I seriously doubt that a petition, however many signatures on it, would make Mosley step down. I think he’s too powerful for a document like that to touch :P.

  12. HounslowBusGarage said on 12th May 2009, 22:24

    @ LynnD
    Thank you, my education is now complete!

  13. John H said on 12th May 2009, 22:39

    Mosley uttered those infamous – and patently incorrect – words that F1 would not suffer without Ferrari.

    Didn’t he say that F1 could survive without Ferrari. I don’t think he ever claimed they wouldn’t suffer?

    Either way, this could be a dangerous situation. The mad dictator is not going to back down methinks – and neither will FOTA.

  14. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th May 2009, 22:49

    I think many people who read this site are dedicated F1 fans and would still watch F1 without Ferrari. But among casual fans (and, let’s face it, there’s a lot more of them than us) it would be a huge blow to F1’s reputation.

    • scunnyman said on 12th May 2009, 22:59

      Yes Keith i do agree with you.

      Max Mosley does not seem to care about F1’s reputation though.

    • Jess said on 13th May 2009, 2:53

      Keith,

      I agree with you on the reputation damage, and lets face it, F1 has suffered in reputation in many forms.

    • I agree to an extent, but I still think a large part of what makes F1 so attractive is its history and the perspective gleaned from this.

      Despite not being a huge Ferrari fan, I think having them on the grid rather than a Prodrive for example adds a certain kudos.

  15. jason said on 12th May 2009, 23:05

    screw ferrari they are a bunch of cry babys, boooo hoooo were not as fast as brawn and boooo hooooo it’s unfair for us being ferrari we have a huge pull with stupid bernie and not to mention a hugggggggeeee money advantage over the other teams. but yet they still have had there asses whipped up and down the track so far this season by a team that was a write off for honda just 7 months ago. it’s finally nice to see the tables turned on ferrari it’s also funny to see that without unfairly the best car under them ferrari’s 2 drives have proven themselfs to be jokes and they have as much a reason as piquiet to have there driver card pulled. kimi is just a complete joke he used to be sorta fast key word “used” to be but it seems that 10 laps into a race he just gives up or the car breaks lol. Massa is just a spinning top as far as control and if not that he can’t stop making stupid mistakes. screw ferrari hooe there gone soon. GO BRAWN AND JENSON FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP LONG LIVE HONDA!!!!

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