Ferrari to present case against FIA

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Ferrari has enjoyed much success since gaining its 'technical veto'
Ferrari has enjoyed much success since gaining its 'technical veto'

As revealed on Friday, Ferrari today are attempting to prosecute the FIA in the French courts for, they claim, breaking the terms of their now-infamous 2005 agreement.

The outcome of the trial could be crucial for the future of the sport, but most likely it will prove just another chapter in the latest F1 row – which has now transformed from a dispute over the rules into a conflict that asks fundamental questions about how F1 is run and governed.

The technical veto

The causes of the trial are remarkable enough to begin with. Last week Ferrari admitted to having had a ‘technical veto’ on the F1 rules since 1998 – seven years after Max Mosley was elected president of the FIA.

That the sport’s governing body was willing to grant such an unfair concession to one team is shocking even to the most cynical of fans, as it lends credence to allegations that the FIA has skewed the rules in Ferrari’s favour. By 1998 the team had gone 15 years without a championship. Since then they’ve won 14 out of 20.

Surely this revelation is just as likely to dissuade manufacturers from staying in or joining F1 as the recession is? If the playing field isn’t level there’s no point competing at any price.

Ten days to the deadline

Putting that matter aside, the somewhat ironic implication of Ferrari’s ‘technical veto’ is that they believe it can now be deployed to safeguard the interests of (several of) the teams. That is, to rebuff the FIA’s unilateral imposition of the two-tier budget cap rules.

Meanwhile Mosley is counting down the days until the teams have to submit their applications to compete in 2010. The deadline in May 29th, leaving ten days to go.

He has already issued the threat that, if Ferrari win their case today, the FIA will appeal. If the French courts cannot hear that appeal before the 29th, it could leave next year’s technical rules in disarray.

Ecclestone eager for solution

It’s not hard to read an increasing sense of desperation in Bernie Ecclestone’s words as the manufacturers and Mosley stare each other down. If he cannot avoid the FIA driving the manufacturers away his task of maintaining a sufficient level of income from F1 (to service the gigantic loan taken out by CVC to finance their purchase of it) will suddenly become extremely difficult.

Ecclestone is now adamant that the two-tier aspect of the rules will not go ahead. He told the BBC and the Daily Mail:

I think the most important thing that upset everybody, they didn’t like, was this two-tier technical system, so I think it has been agreed that we shouldn’t have that. We should have just one set of regulations.

Of course, it is not up to Ecclestone to decide F1’s regulations – that’s the FIA’s job. With fresh negotiations between all three parties scheduled for this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, the most compelling thing Ecclestone can do to improve the chances of the teams overcoming their opposition to budget capping is to offer them more money.

Now, how likely do you think that is?

Read more: Stalemate: Ferrari taking FIA to court but who is in the right? (Poll)

126 comments on “Ferrari to present case against FIA”

  1. By 1998 the team had gone 15 years without a championship. Since then they’ve won 14 out of 20 (championships).

    The whole veto thing is pretty funny but you insinuate that the veto led to Ferrari winning where as the only thing it could really bring about was/is technical stability.

    …it lends credence to allegations that the FIA has skewed the rules in Ferrari’s favour

    Out of interest which rules? I always thought the whole single lap qualifying thing was quite blatantly a ploy to stop Ferrari dominance. Also I think the rules governing driver aids and electronic devices ultimately got the better of Ferrari in the form of Tad Czapski and Renault.

    1. You are right, K.
      There`s a big jump from a veto against changing/ new rules & having preferential treatment on the track. Unfortunately, it`s a jump too many of the press (present company excluded, Keith) are ready & eager to make.
      What amuses me is that the reporters who are now putting these stories out as big news have regularly held themselves up as in-the-know experts, obviously they don`t know.
      Which begs the question how much can you rely on other issues (Max-gate, Spygate etc.) on which they have taken sides?

    2. Although the FIA introduced single lap qualifying to try to stop Schumacher’s and Ferrari’s dominance of F1 making it too dull, I always thought it was a strange way to go about things, (apart from the fact I have always preferred traditional qualifying), because if anyone would benefit from single lap qualifying it would be Schumacher.

      Before the change it was often mentioned in commentary that Michael Schumacher was the sort of driver who could put in one of his best laps on his first run, whereas some drivers such as David Coulthard preferred to put in a banker lap to start with before trying to set his ultimate lap.

    3. PJA

      Single lap qualifying required the winner of the last race to qualify first, on a dirty track, which meant they had no chance of pole.

    4. K

      I remember it the other way round, with the qualifying order being the reverse of the finishing order of the previous race.
      If you failed to finish a race you suffered for that the next race too.

    5. It was changed a few times mainly because it was ridiculous but that’s how it was to begin with, at least it’s gone now.

    6. You really think that one think has nothing to do with the other?… Eh eh…

      And there is still the ‘One Million Euros Question’ to answer – WHY ? Exactly what did Mosley won (tons of money for sure) and in witch areas was de facto Ferrari on top of the other teams, only because of their say in the regulations?

      That’s a topic for you!

    7. Win7Golf

      Do you know what a veto is? Ferrari couldn’t/can’t make new rules, and how do we know that no other team has a veto anyway?

  2. It’s disgusting enough that such a thing should exist in the first place. It’s time for Ferrari to leave F1 and never come back. They won’t be missed.

    F1 without Ferrari will still be F1, and it will be a better F1. They can go off and pollute some other racing series with their backhanders, cheating and lies.

    1. ajokay, F1 without Ferrari? You’re crazy. Ask any casual fan on the street, and ask them what comes to mind when you say F1. Chances are more than half will say Ferrari. Majority of them watch F1 BECAUSE of Ferrari. With no Ferrari, where does that leave F1?

      The sport will stay alive – maybe. But for sure, they will now have to compete for the affections of the fans against either a FOTA-led breakaway or a Le Mans Series with Ferrari in it…

    2. No, I’m still not getting it…I really can’t believe half of F1 fans watch F1 for Ferrari.

      F1 without Ferrari will work just fine. So F1 loses a load of Italian fans, and a few other glory hunters around the globe, oh well, they’ll follow their beloved red machines to whatever other racing series they go to.

      I would still watch F1 without Ferrari in it, I know many many other people who would.

      I’m sure plenty of people who loved Tyrrell still watch F1, or Jordan, etc.

      As a fan of F1 in general, I don’t really mind which teams are in it, as long as there are lots of them and it is still worthwhile watching. I’d still watch F1 without Ferrari easily, no problem, and so would many many others, like yourself, I’m sure.

    3. ajokay, just go to a race and look at the crowd. all you’ll see anywhere is red. with yellow and horses of course (cause almost all teams are red now).

    4. ajokay

      The biggest F1 fan base is for Ferrari, possibly the majority of fans. Many (but not all) watch F1 because of Ferrari which is something that benefits all areas of F1 including other teams with regards to revenue gained from sponsorship and advertising. F1 also trades on it’s history and Ferrari’s participation validates this by invoking it’s place at the sports inception.

      Ferrari, McLaren and others, all have been guilty of cheating, a veto on the technical regulations by itself is not really that much of an advantage if any and now Ferrari’s veto is being used in favour of at least 4 other teams.

      You might like to consider this:

      If Ferrari have a veto who gave it to them, who allowed them to have it and should they be allowed to run F1?

      If the other teams were offered a veto how many would turn it down?

      Do any other teams have a veto?

    5. F1 without Ferrari simply isn’t F1. Even Bernie Ecclestone says Ferrari is F1 and F1 is Ferrari.

      I am not a Ferrari fan, but who wouldn’t want to own one!? Ferrari = motor racing, thrills, excitement, glamorous girls, controversy = F1. :-)

  3. Its been really upsetting since knowing that Ferrari (the most dominant F1 team for the last decade) had owned a veto power on techs regulations.
    It just means tech regulations churned out by the FiA year-in year-out would have had to settle & fit in with the Scuderia team prior to its release!
    What an awful shame!

    1. If you look back, even across the Schumacher years there were times when the rule changes did not favour Ferrari. Changes to qualifying, points & various technical regulations were actually brought in to try to bring their domination to an end.
      Historically, Enzo Ferrari knew the importance of his team to the sport. Why do you think he used to threaten (& sometimes actually carry it through) not to attend races & why do you think the CA includes the clause that all teams must attend?
      Ferrari`s importance to the sport has been known for many, many years & the sport has recognised it in different ways.
      The F1 that everyone gets nostalgic over was no different in that respect to the F1 today.
      So why all the current outrage as though it`s something new?

  4. They just had veto Keith, not an exemption from the rules. So I don’t think that could be a reason for their winnings, sure they would have advantage, but they just set the field, not the winner.

    1. Arun, they set the field to suit themselves, it is a technical advantage non of the others enjoyed, were this any other team would it be acceptable?

  5. One question: How fair has all these championship years been?!!!!!!

  6. Finally, an answer to the hefty punishment ‘ALWAYS’ handed down to the Mac’s and little wonder they ‘ALWAYS’ escape the FiA’s wrath!

  7. I think F1 needs two people out:
    1. Ferrari
    2. Max Mosley

  8. Since then they’ve won 14 out of 20.

    Shouldn’t this be 8 out of 10? Or am I missing something?

    Before 1998 = 15 year of nothing, 1998 is 11 years ago?

    1. Counting both Drivers and Constructors Championships.

  9. With news of Ferrari’s technical veto I wonder what other secret deals have been done in F1?

    1. A great many, I`d think PJA, & in no way all with Ferrari!

  10. We finally know the “real cheats” in F1, not Mclaren and Hamilton, but Ferrari, Mosely and FIA.

    1. Did u forget the spy saga?

    2. Bernification
      19th May 2009, 23:54

      No Madurai, but did you forget Renault did the same, for longer, with more info, used Mac IP. and escaped without a fine? And Toyota did the same- no fine.

  11. People seem to forget its not only Ferrari leaving its 5 teams, that said they will quit, and 2 that will follow. What type of f1 championship will it be when we have brawn, lola, williams, usgp and force india. I will be a Joke. They will all run the same engine which is crap, and none of them apart from Williams is a world wide brand. People forget that f1 is a brand, that is advertised by the teams, the bigger the team the better the advertisment. Inturn more poeple watch f1 which attract the big dollars. Without these teams, goes the drivers, sponsers and the viewers. Spain will turn off, Germany, italy, half of the uk will disappear. When schumi retired ratings dropped 25%. What will happen when 3/4 of the grid disappears. F1 will be dead. BBC will sue bernie and all the tracks wont bother hosting a gp as no body will turn up. Countries host GP for people to visit, and advertising, inturn getting a return on tax dolalrs. If people turn off and dont travel no county will host a gp. Thats the risk the FIA is taking. Bernie knows this and he will end it before it blows up. I have no doubt every contract bernie has would mention Ferrari, Mclaren, and several other clauses relating to the teams. BBC contract would have Hamiltons name on it. As for the technical veto. Ferrari never wrote the rules. There reason for success was because of a team and one driver, schumi. The FIA changed the rules to restrict ferrari and they still adapted. It was the failure of other teams that made Ferrari’s success. As soon as Schumi moved to Ferrari in 96 he was winning races and in contention for the title. Alesi, Berger had nothin compared to Schumi. This veto was offered to them, not demanded.

    1. All merchandising will fall through the floor too. i collect models from minichamps and hotwheels and i cant see them bothering to make any if the demand falls. i agree with you entirely.

  12. @Keith .Winning because of veto is completely false.Even if your statement that FIA tweaked the rules for ferrari is true the rules would still be the same for all the others.Tweaking as u said doesnot mean that Ferrai were exempted from certain regulations .All the teams were given the same regulations.It is Just that ferrari did a superb job than others .You cannot take the victories from them just by interpreting the actual statements.

    1. @ Madurai.

      But Keith is not saying that Ferrari won because of their technical veto. His argument, and mine, is that the FIA gave Ferrari a huge concession, what other concessions would they be willing to give? And you can’t deny that a great many controversial decisions involving stewards have gone in Ferrari’s favour.

      I would miss Ferrari if they left Formula 1, although mainly because I enjoy watching them lose. There’s nothing better than a bunch of arrogant, preening primadonnas throwing their toys out of the pram because they don’t get what they want.

  13. I believe the May 29th date is a bit of red herring. According to Mosley in Autosport,

    “I think that we will probably get anywhere between three and six teams by the deadline, depending,”

    “After that they become a late entry and if there is a space they can take it, and if there isn’t space they cannot.”

    So there seems to be no reason why Ferrari and the other teams cannot join the party later.

    1. Ahh but I read a good point about that earlier somewhere – there are spaces for thirteen teams – assuming Williams, Brawn and Force India apply thats three spaces taken, and then add a number of new applicants, that wouldnt leave enough spaces for all the boycotting teams, so some maybe wouldnt be allowed to enter. I assume, and it is very much an assumption, that if say six or seven teams in total applied on the first deadline – all of them would be allowed in, as it is the original deadline. A later deadline would be set for any further entrants, to fill up the remaining slots. There are seven boycotting teams, or six who have been vocal about it – I am not too sure on Mclaren’s stance – for all of them to enter at a later date should something be agreed, would there have to be sufficient space left, or would they get priority over a new entrant, even if the new one applied at the original deadline?

      If all of that makes sense – I’m not always the best at explaining things sometimes!

    2. What i mean is in a nutshell, yes they would probably be allowed at a later date, but only if there is space – so if a whole bunch of new teams sign up, then the boycotting lot may or may not be able to race a team – depending on how many slots get filled up with the first wave of applicants. What if there is only say four or five slots remaining.

    3. As long as there is space and they pay an, as yet, undisclosed late entry fee to be paid to the FIA:

      See Article 13.1 of the Sporting Regs

      While you`re there you might want to look at what exactly the new budget cap rules are. They start from page 45 of the .pdf.

  14. I echo phil c, its not just Ferrari threatening this its the majority of the grid – Ferrari are just using their bargaining power (which is much stronger than any other of the teams) to try and get something agreed on behalf of themselves and all the others.

    Journeyer said how if you asked any casual fan on the street to name something connected with F1 more than half would say Ferrari – I tend to agree with this. Whilst they may not necessarily only watch because of Ferrari the connection is most definitely there – I defy anyone to find a casual fan that wouldnt mention Ferrari if they were asked to name say two or three things which came to mind when F1 was mentioned.

    If Ferrari left, there would be a knock on effect no doubt. Monza by many accounts is one of the more financially stable races on the calendar. Should Ferrari leave can you see them maintaining the crowds which the currently do? If Ferrari were to go I could see Monza following shortly after. They simply wouldnt get the crowds needed to keep the race a success. And to lose Monza would be huge. And Monza wouldnt be alone –

    Without these teams, goes the drivers, sponsers and the viewers. Spain will turn off, Germany, italy, half of the uk will disappear. When schumi retired ratings dropped 25%. What will happen when 3/4 of the grid disappears.

    Spain’s interest rocketed with Alonso’s success, to the point where they could justify hosting two races – I couldnt see that continuing should all the teams who are refusing to enter for next year actually go through with it. Germany are already struggling – it would be the final nail in the coffin for them.

    Should the teams threatening to actually pull out (which I dont know how sure is the case, we shall see)crowd levels would drop at the circuits considerably, as would tv audiences – and Part of the appeal for a lot of people is the history of a team, the connection a person may have had with that team over many years. I dont doubt that the racing will still be good, but GP2 racing is good, and without the prestige of some of the teams currently there, I fear it may be seen more along the lines of GP2 and A1GP etc. It would be like starting from scratch in a way, which will be very difficult to keep such high levels of interest.

    I dont particularly have a problem with Ferrari having a veto on the rules, its not like the are writing them they are just being included on the final decision process, something which after so many years in the sport is almost earned. I do however think that Mclaren and Williams should receive something similar, maybe on a sliding scale, for their length of time in the sport – but thats a whole different topic.

    All that said though, I do think something will be agreed by everyone eventually, even if it turns very ugly in the process. Bernie has been quoted as saying the two tier thing isnt likely to happen – he can see the need to appease the teams somehow, although as it is Bernie we cant predict exactly how this will be managed. Could be any number of random plucked from the air solutions!

    1. Clare
      Deep throat said follow the money and eventually Nixon went So who gets what if Max gets his way? FOG will cut the teams payments, perhaps to £10m each but who will get the rest.
      TGIT in 2 days

  15. Sorry! Page 43 not 45.

  16. Keith, this is no longer about matters of F1 detail, this has now become serious.

    Ferrari has been driven to a Court of Law by capricious negotiations to establish their rights under an improper agreement between a competitor and a regulatory authority. That regulatory authority has already threatened appeal if they lose on first instance. Where do the Courts stand on being asked to adjudicate such a contract?

    What is the elephant in the room supposed to think of akll this?. CVC Capital Partners legally bought an interest in the commercial rights of FIA formula One. They are entitled to take their returns which are being put at hazard. Where will they seek redress if their rights become worthless?

  17. Madurai, It’s not false at all. Ferrari could pick and choose which rules suited them. For instance, last season if a rule would have ended up decreasing tyre ware, they could veto it as the Mclaren was harder on it’s tyres than Ferarri. It gives them a very big, very unfair advantage.

    How many big teams have fallen by the wayside over the years? Lotus (IMO the greatest of them all), Brabham, Tyrell, etc, but F1 is still here. If Ferrari go, they go. Let them go if they’re going to throw their toys out of the pram.

    1. Actually, not true, Steve.
      Ferrari were at a disadvantage with the tyre compounds which Bridgestone said could not be made softer for safety reasons. Harder tyres favoured McLaren not Ferrari.

    2. Steve, many big teams have indeed gone, but none them had been around in the sport for sixty years, or were/are quite so synonymous with the sport in the same way Ferrari are.

      Ferrari are not the only team ‘throwing their toys out of the pram’ either – almost all of them are, its just Ferrari are using their influence to represent eveybody. Ferrari have a lot more strength in the argument than someone like Red Bull or Toyota who have only been around a few years – they simply dont have the same impact as Ferrari do. Thats why Ferrari are standing up and complaining the loudest – they know they have more sway than some of the other teams who are of the same view.

      My worry is not just Ferrari pulling out, although in my opinion that would be an awful thing to happen, its with many teams doing it at at once. it would be a disaster for the sport if we were to start next year without seven of this years teams. Whether or not there is a bunch to replace them it just wouldnt be the same.

  18. Many British fans would miss Ferrari but still stick with Formula 1; elsewhere in the world, I’m not sure that would be the case, especially if several other major teams left at the same time. The Ferrari brand really is that big.

    Leaving that aside, I’m flabbergasted by an article I’ve just read on the Autosport website, where Max Mosley claims Ferrari don’t have a case, firstly because they didn’t exercise their veto when the plans were first aired in March – and secondly because they chose to join FOTA!

    Genuine Mosley quote from this article: “Essentially they walked away by forming FOTA. They were always supposed to be loyal to the FIA, work with us and cooperate.”

    We knew and accepted that signing Ferrari up in principle to the new (still unsigned) Concorde Agreement in 2005 was a political move to ensure the breakaway series couldn’t really threaten Formula 1, but I’m stunned that the head of the FIA would make such a blatant public statement, and that he genuinely believes he has a right to Ferrari’s permanent loyalty.

  19. persempre, It was hypothetical. I don’t know if it happened or not, but I was just giving an example of how it could have helped Ferrari :)

    1. Many a time I have read in this site that FIA tried to stopped the dominance of ferrari

    2. :) I wasn`t having a go at you, Steve.

      The tyre issue definitely happened. Keith covered it here
      It`s unfortunate that it has to be Ferrari taking the forefront in this issue because it lays the whole thing open to the usual problems of pro or anti-Ferrari. In the UK, at least, mainly the latter. This is about the rights of all participating teams & it`s a great shame it`s descending to the usual fans yelling at each other over the wall level.

      This would be a good Forum topic if my password would actually work there. Any help, Keith?

  20. You have some good points Clare. I would still watch F1 if Ferrari weren’t there, but I wonder if ALMS and Le Mans with Ferrari would get more TV coverage?
    I have a suspicion that the ‘climb down’ over the two tier proposal is the first phase in Max’s strategy to get the teams to agree to something before the 29th. This is the normal Max bargaining tool anyway. This week we will see him utterly against whatever FOTA say on Friday, but next week they will agree with whatever he says before the 29th. Its the same old story.
    The variable timescale for entries next year is interesting. Does this mean that Max and Bernie might actually have to go hunting for teams to fill the grid? Would they consider lowering the fees to entice the stragglers?
    I also wonder what happens if Ferrari win the court case and Max appeals. Would they pull out of Monaco at the last minute? As I am sure Enzo would have…..

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