Ferrari to present case against FIA

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)

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126 comments on Ferrari to present case against FIA

  1. CJD said on 19th May 2009, 13:34

    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?

  2. Steve said on 19th May 2009, 13:43

    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.

    • persempre said on 19th May 2009, 13:47

      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.

    • Clare msj said on 19th May 2009, 14:11

      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.

  3. SiY said on 19th May 2009, 14:02

    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.

  4. Steve said on 19th May 2009, 14:03

    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 :)

    • Madurai said on 19th May 2009, 14:07

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

    • persempre said on 19th May 2009, 14:13

      :) 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?

  5. DGR-F1 said on 19th May 2009, 14:33

    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…..

  6. scunnyman said on 19th May 2009, 14:39

    I’m no ferrari fan by far, but FOTA need their help in form of the veto. We should leave the armuments about whether or not Ferrari should have it or not. I believe they should not, but they do have it.
    Without a court being involved, then Max Mosley could and probably would force the teams with Bernie’s backing back in line.

    Anyway going on past form where the courts are used in disputes with FIA Ferrari may win at first and the FIA win on appeal. So this saga could drag on for quite a while yet.

    Right as far as the veto is concerned when all this is over and done with are we going to find out in a few years time that FIA has bought off a different team and given them benefits that other teams don’t have.

    I personally feel that the help that Ferrari have had since 1998 does mean they have had an advantage, and it DOES call into question the validity of their championship wins and other penalties that have gone Ferrari’s way.

    As for Bernie giving the teams more money to stave off the revolt and a possible breakaway. He may well give in a bit to the teams because he is no fool and realises that a weakened championship with lesser teams will probably mean he loses a lot of money, so best to lose some of his money than a hell of a lot.

  7. Chaz said on 19th May 2009, 14:52

    Whether Ferrai have a legal case or not against the FIA is in some ways irrelevant to me. Ferrari just strike me as spoilt brats. If they don’t get their own way, they bully and threaten until they do. Ferrari need to be brought down several pegs or leave the sport. It is inconceivable that one team can have an over riding veto over every other team for any reason.

    Therefore I’m going to play devils advocate and stick my neck out in support of Max, yes that Max with all his faults and foibles. If Max brings the necessary changes and reforms to better the support and competition then good on him. You have to play hard ball and perhaps his methods rancour and confuse many, including me, but I think Max is the best of the worst people for this hard nose job in order to bring about much needed cost cutting.

    A huge question still remains. Why did FIA give Ferrari this veto and can it really be justified that Ferrari get such a much larger slice of the F1 money pie. This is appaulling. We need transparency…

    • scunnyman said on 19th May 2009, 15:35

      i agree that Ferrari are spoilt brats and need teaching a lesson.
      But i feel the time for that is after we have gotten this sage sorted.
      The trouble is that the Ferrari of 14-15 yrs plus ago is a totally different animal to what we see now. That old ferrari team i respected, but not the new one. Is there a chance the team could go back to how it once was is debatable. And even if they could, would anybody trust them. I think the worst thing that ever happened to Ferrari’s prestige was the likes of Jean Todt and Michael Schumacher and Ross Brawn joining them, because since that time they have really been seen as spoiled brats.

      This FOTA and FIA problem is bigger than that though and needs resolving before it tears formula one apart.

      I can live without ferrari no problem but i would not want to watch a crap version of F1, that is why i stopped watching indy car.

    • HounslowBusGarage said on 19th May 2009, 22:23

      FIA gave Ferrari the veto reluctantly in exchange for Ferrari’s support of the Concord agreement. They hoped that they would be able to say to the other teams “look Ferrari have signed up, you should do too” or words to that effect. Not sure that it worked so well for the FIA as their agreement with Ferrari is coming around to bite them in the bum.
      One of the most interesting things in reading the posts here, is the similarity between this argument and the argument over MP’s allowances in the UK Parliament. Words like ‘transparency’ and ‘reform’ recur frequently.
      I think this ine of the most exciting periods in F1’s history; we have a real possibility that one of the founder teams – the only surviving founder – will disappear. It’s like The Premiership without Manchester United; NFL without the Dallas Cowboys. Could the Premiership or NFL continue? Of course they could!
      And I still think that Toyota and Renault (possibly Red Bull/Torro Rosso as well) are looking for a face-saving reason to quit F1. They do not want to admit they can’t afford it, that would be bad for mainstream business and egos, so they would like to blame their withdrawl on Max.
      Max is a **** – don’t get me wrong – after all, he caused this problem all those years ago by agreeing to the Ferrari veto in an attempt to intimidate the rest of the teams, and now it’s biting him hard.
      These are exciting times – long live the revolution. Ha!

  8. F1Yankee said on 19th May 2009, 16:11

    ferrari without f1 would fare much better than f1 without ferrari. this is fact.

    walk down your average filth-strewn cobblestone street and ask a peasant to name 2 f1 teams. the answer will invariably be, “ferrari and….”

    • ajokay said on 19th May 2009, 17:18

      But the peasants in the filth-strewn cobblestone street don’t care about F1, the F1 fans care about F1, and they’re far more likely to give a balenced answer.

  9. Win7Golf said on 19th May 2009, 16:14

    Just to agree with Keith and to say that I’m feeling cheated all these years, being forced to watch that odious man (MS) won all those things… with custom rules… no less… It’s funny that when I said anything about FIA being kind of “RED”, people laugh at me, calling it a conspiracy theory… After all it was not a theory. It was the cold hard naked shameful truth… And even those who stand by Ferrari can’t prevent to stop and wonder… If this ‘technical veto’ didn’t exist… will their last championship win, still by the one in 1979 ??? Very SAD news for FORMULA ONE FANS…!

  10. Alex said on 19th May 2009, 16:40

    Been reading the site for a looong time, but its my first post.

    As Alonso said in an interview this week, The ingredient to make F1 work is the great team’s that have endured the most time in the sport, and as you know Ferrari have been there since the beginning. So saying F1 will be better without Ferrari is just crap.

    • Chaz said on 19th May 2009, 16:44

      This statement would of course have nothing to do with his much speculated move to Ferrari would it…

  11. Antifia said on 19th May 2009, 16:52

    Let’s suppose there will be two formulas next year:
    – F1 with Mclaren, Brawn, Force India, Williams, USGP, Lola and someone else. Run 2/3 of the year in the new Herman Tilke circuits of the far and middle east. Max and Bernie on top.
    – Formula Whatever with Ferrari, Renault, Toyota, Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Audi (?), Porsche (?), Pegeout (?) and so on. Racing in the old stile venues of Europe and America (North and South) like Monza, Spa, Mugelo, Brands Hatch, Silverstone, Sebring, Watckins Glen, Montreal, A-Ring (the old one), Monaco, Imola (pre-emasculation format), Zandvoord,the old Nurburgring, Interlagos….No Max, no Bernie.

    Which one would you watch?

    • persempre said on 19th May 2009, 16:59

      Did you notice the quick change of headline one blog had this morning? It started life as “Max & Bernie must go” & suddenly changed to “Ferrai must play fair or go” (complete with typo).
      Pandering to the masses or is his press accreditation under review? :)

    • Win7Golf said on 19th May 2009, 17:04

      Hey man, do you really believe that, or are you just making it up for fun?…

      It’s completely unrealistic with the economic crisis, to have two competitions ALMOST alike…

    • IDR said on 19th May 2009, 17:13

      Which one would you watch?

      Non of them because TV rights will be on court with Bernie and the new formula representatives, litigating for a long time.

    • IDR said on 19th May 2009, 17:19

      Did you notice the quick change of headline one blog had this morning? It started life as “Max & Bernie must go” & suddenly changed to “Ferrai must play fair or go” (complete with typo).

      Oficially, Ed Gorman has said he is not in charge of the Heads The Times put in his articles…

    • ajokay said on 19th May 2009, 17:20

      Yes… because of course Formula Whatever will race on the old nurburgring and pre-emasculation format Imola.

    • scunnyman said on 19th May 2009, 17:37

      errrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmmmmmm let’s see now i wonder which one i’d choose. Maybe the one that sounds like proper formula one.

      And proper formula one is anything without the Max and bernie dog and pony show.

    • Bartholomew said on 19th May 2009, 18:25

      The second one of course. The debate should be cars AND tracks.
      In a beautiful track it doesnt matter what tech details the cars have, and if the budget is 40 or 100

    • HounslowBusGarage said on 19th May 2009, 22:34

      This is not a realistic alternative.
      Formula Whatever will not attract Audi, Porsche (they are part of the same parent company and both are heavily involved in other racing classes), or even Peugeot. It’s not attractive for a new Manufacturer to compete against the existing teams.
      There is though another argument. There may be racing teams in other formulae who are thinking “We’d like to get involved with F1, but we could not compete with the likes of Ferrari, Toyota, Renault . . .”
      And so, if these manufacturer teams disappeared, might we see Dyson, WSR and half a dozen others decide to step up to F1?

    • DGR-F1 said on 20th May 2009, 8:42

      Well, Red Bull already races/sponsors teams in WRC, WTCC, DTM, NASCAR and many other series around the world, so I am sure it could back out of F1 quite easily if it wanted to.
      I see no reason why McLaren, Brawn and Williams couldn’t switch to racing in other series, and even running two or three teams around the world. Or joining with other engine manufacturers to develop LMP cars.
      Force India could downgrade and compete in GP2 Asia, and get much better coverage I’m sure. The remaining Manufacturers of Renault and Toyota could side step into WTCC or similar, which will be much cheaper for them, and BMW and Mercedes already have interests in other racing series. Not forgetting Renault building GP2 cars and Ferrari building A1GP cars.
      So you see, if they really wanted to leave F1, the actual teams could find a way to survive, and not have to deal much with Max or Bernie in the future….

  12. Lynn said on 19th May 2009, 17:06

    persempre, yes I saw it, and I guess thousands did as well. That’s why I don’t take seriously what these so call F1 journo’s say.

    • persempre said on 19th May 2009, 17:27

      Thank you, IDR.
      Maybe it`s just that Ferrari sells more papers/gets more hits than M & B then?

      @ Lynn.
      Very wise.

  13. persempre said on 19th May 2009, 17:32

    Judgement apparently expected 2pm (Paris time) tomorrow.
    Unless it get leaked before, of course ;)

  14. mp4-19 said on 19th May 2009, 17:44

    tell me how many of you will quit watching F1 if ferrari quits? not even one i suppose. no team is bigger that the sport & certainly it includes ferrari. these matters shouldn’t have come into the public domain in the first place. i agree(for the 1st time) with max mosley when he says f1 will do well without ferrari. we’ve lost so many great f1 teams in the past & we the fans are still enthusiastic about the sport. ferrari or no ferrari the sport will continue.

    • persempre said on 19th May 2009, 18:24

      I think you misjudge the strength of feeling over this, mp4-19.
      I wouldn`t want to see the kind of series that the FIA are currently pushing for. I would stop watching.
      F1 is not the only motorsport series &, if the FIA win, it will definitely not be the pinnacle of motorsport that we have known.
      I think that applies to many people whatever team they may or may not follow.

  15. I might be mistaken, but there is no trial today. They are discussing the merits of an injunction which would put a halt on any changes until a court action can decide on the issues of the actual case.

    I would suspect the court would grant the injunction as the issues will be very complex and not readily fathomable.

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