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

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

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.

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

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  1. 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.

    1. Indeed. The whole Abu Dhabi event is shaped around Ferrari for example.

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

  3. 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).

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. HounslowBusGarage
    12th May 2009, 22:24

    @ LynnD
    Thank you, my education is now complete!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

    1. Yes Keith i do agree with you.

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

    2. Keith,

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

    3. 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.

  10. 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!!!!

    1. You need to learn to write properly.

  11. I agree with your post above Kieth, but that is assuming that everything would carry on unchanged. I don’t think Ferrari would just walk away from what made their company and sit back while F1 carried on as normal. I think that the changes to the sports fundamental principle if Ferrari (and the others) leave and some silly 2-tier system is implemented would be why us dedicated fans might start to lose interest. Just like you said, this is why I lost interest in Indy Cars (I’m in the States).
    Also, I personally like to see the big names and the small names in F1. A series full of small names would not be F1.

    1. @Jason, did you read Vettels comments about how perfectly Massa drove in front of him? I don’t think Massa and Kimi are the issue at Ferrari.

  12. This is just playing hard ball negotiations. Offering their worst to spook the competition.

  13. The comparison with IndyCar is interesting, but some would point out Indy isn’t a patch on the global business that F1 is, what with top teams investing £300m a year and a global audience of 580 million unique viewers.

    OK, so they are both leading open-wheeled series but perhaps some caution is needed comparing the two.

    If there’s a series including the current names (teams and drivers), racing cars which look the same at most of the current circuits, who cares what it’s called?

    We’ll still be as fanatical about it, casual fans will note that it’s not called F1 but they just want entertainment before the Eastenders omnibus, and Keith will have to register!

    But what if there’s still an FIA Formula 1? Would you bother to watch USGPE, Lola and a few of the GP2 teams who’ve made the step up? Even though it’s technically the ‘real’ F1? Didn’t think so.

    We’d watch Ferrari, McLaren, BMW et al in the new series.

    Shame it won’t happen though.

    1. You may be right but the damage to the F1 vs “f1a” could be on par with IRL vs ChampCar Fans. The fight and then maybee a come together again. IRL is in to it second unified status and is still a shadow of what it once was. I for one dont want to see this. I want to see F1 continue and prosper.

    2. some would point out Indy isn’t a patch on the global business that F1 is, what with top teams investing £300m a year and a global audience of 580 million unique viewers.

      And today that comparison would be correct – but wind the clock back 16 years to when IndyCar was still unified, it had Mansell, Fittipaldi and (Mario) Andretti, and F1 was nicking ideas off it (safety cars, refuelling, even considering oval races) and things looked very different.

  14. Ferrari is acting like a big Prima Dona.
    Or… have they already figured out they cant win this year so they will start designing their 2011 car now and then after taking off a year they will dominate, ala Brawn?

    Either way, I say to them don’t let the doorknob hit ya in the ass!

  15. Ferrari can’t leave….where will Alonso go!!…Maybe he can move to the new USGP team and give me something to cheer about.

  16. marvin guillen
    13th May 2009, 1:15

    Max Mosley get your ***king *ss out of the FIA.
    I`m paying cable to watch F1 and soccer. I going to miss
    my favorite team if they go.

  17. A formula 1 team can budget themselves. They won’t spend more than they can afford to. Formula 1 is supposed to be the best of the best. If you can’t afford to be there then you shouldn’t be there. Its that simple.
    A team will not spend more than they can afford. Let them adjust themselves to the economy instead of imposing things upon them.
    Rule changes and fairness is one thing, but FIA should stay out of each teams operations.

    1. Brian, the main issue is that some can afford more than others. In this case, Ferrari can afford lots more than any new team entering F1. That’s why it makes sense that a budget cap option be looked at.

      The issue here isn’t the actual regulation per se; the issue is how that regulation was created. It’s about who has the power when creating these regs – and that’s a heck of a lot more complicated to resolve.

    2. A formula 1 team can budget themselves. They won’t spend more than they can afford to.

      Of course they can – but if they can’t afford enough to be competitive, they will leave.

  18. Broer Sammy
    13th May 2009, 1:51

    FIA seems create two tier F1 and finally there will be 2 F1 Team should split. F1 Primer team with no limit budget and easy regulation and F1-B with budget limit and tight regulation. They should not race together. So the fans happy 2 F1 races – every week race.

  19. Its not about Ferrari leaving…last news says that only williams and force india are following Mosley. Even Beawn is going with FOTA. Mercedes is trying push Force India to stay togetjer with other teams with FOTa so what would be left in 2010 F1 serious….Williams.

    If teams go and make their own serious world is full of race track who would be happy to let new series racing there…include Monaco. Monaco is only race track in F1 calende3r which dont have contract with Bernie.

    So we dont need talk about F1 without Ferrari, we need talk about F1 without most of teams lol.

    maybe thats what Mosley want. He wants power more than anything else. He really dont care who is driving as long as they are under his thymb. All teams out and new small private teams in and Mosley would be happy man.

    Teams have time till end of this month to sign in to next season. Bernie, Mosley and FOTA will have meating soon.

    Maybe soon we will have new F1 series where is all teams exlude williams and then we have other where is Williams and a lot of small private teams…

    Next week will be intresting.

  20. BMW, Toyota, Red Bull/Toro Rosso have all said if the rules don’t change they will not be taking part in F1 next year. it’s not just Ferrari.

    And I believe Mercedes are “considering their future” in F1.

    Also I believe it wouldn’t take much for Renault to say bye bye.

    All because of one individual.

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