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”

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  1. 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.

  2. 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…

    1. 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.

    2. HounslowBusGarage
      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!

  3. 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….”

    1. 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.

  4. 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…!

  5. 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.

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

  6. 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?

    1. 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? :)

    2. 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…

    3. 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.

    4. 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…

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

    6. 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.

    7. Bartholomew
      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

    8. HounslowBusGarage
      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?

    9. 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….

  7. 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.

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

      @ Lynn.
      Very wise.

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

  9. 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.

    1. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. @Antifia
    +1 to Formula Whatever !! :D (Formula Antifia won’t be a bad name either)

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

    If veto gave them all the technical/non-technical/etc/etc advantage, shouldn’t this stat be 20 out of 20 :O

    Stop hating Ferrari (temporarily) and wait for the Judgment Day.

  12. @mp4-19…I would leave, but it wouldn’t be just because Ferrari left. It would be because the changes to the sport that would force Ferrari to leave, would also force me to leave. The other teams that left F1 in the past did it only because they couldn’t afford it.

    Ferrari’s threat to leave (and Toyota, Red Bull, etc) is over massive changes to the sports fundamentals being administered within 1-year.

    Also, one of the reasons I love F1 is that the technology and the engineering is incredible and very advanced. Example, the paddle shifter that you can now get on many street cars…came from F1. I don’t see how F1 will be able to follow it’s natural evolution as the most technically advanced sport in the world with massive budget caps. I’m all for reduced spending and even a little bit more ‘fair’ spending, but the teams need more freedom. If you can’t afford, leave, like so many of the teams mentioned in this thread have done in the past.

  13. @Antifia

    Formula whatever for me! Sounds great…Audi, Porsche, BMW, Ferrari, Toyota, Peugeot, Renault….Sounds like better racing than Force India vs. Lola.

  14. I’ve got a question for someone, anyone?

    Now max mosley has been quoted as saying that if the teams want to breakaway and for their own series they can and that the FIA will sanction it and regulate if they want. Which to me means that if the teams don’t want the FIA to govern it they don’t have to.

    Now my question is…. If they don’t need the FIA for a breakaway series then they shouldn’t need them for Formula One, so why do they need the FIA to govern F1? Does having the FIA in charge make F1 better? And if not then is there a way that Formula One can extract themselves from the FIA. I know that F1 is Bernie Ecclestone, but even he must admit his close friend Max is ruining F1.

    1. Max also said beware Big Bad Bernie will be lurking behind the table of every promoter that teams want to deal with. He also said something to the effect that cruel television companies would take advantage of innocent teams. He also said that the teams would have to prepare their own safety code which would be checked by his crew. He also said previously:-

      “The FIA is a private organisation with no mandate to control all motorsport, domiciled in Europe but not governed by European law and I will take my teddy to Monaco if you dare question that”

      He seems to have said a lot other than “I resign”

    2. I would have thought the teams are contractually tied into the television deals in some way, so I’m wondering exactly how easy is it for them to form a breakaway series…

  15. Hey Keith, have you noticed that Joe Saward has an article on his blog about Innovation in British motorsport. The same story you linked 8 days ago.
    You reckon he’s being a bit slow to find these stories or that you are just more on the ball?

  16. Paint me as cynical, but are most of us aware what veto power actually is? It means that Ferrari had indisputable power in REJECTING any measure, rule, technicality, procedure, amendment, et al., that it wanted to. I don’t know if any other team had this power, but I’ll assume that they did not.

    Think about the UN Security Council. The five most powerful nations in the world (US, FR, GB, RU, CN), coincidentally the first five to gain access to nuclear weapons, can block ANY legislature with just a one nay vote. That’s what Ferrari could do. Could it write the FIA sporting or technical regulations? No. But it could reject anything it desired.

    Regardless of WHAT this meant, it was powerful.

  17. “Of course, it is not up to Ecclestone to decide F1’s regulations – that’s the FIA’s job.”

    With all due respect, Keith, I think you’ve missed the point of this whole exercise in resistance. It’s not the FIA’s job to decide F1’s regulations. It’s the FIA’s job to police the rules. It has been overstepping it’s bounds for years now, and the teams have finally said “Enough. We will decide the technical regulations, and while we’re at it, we want more money.”

    I believe Pitpass were the first to point this out. I can’t copy and paste from their page, but it was Ecclestone who pointed out that because of an EC ruling, the FIA cannot interfere with the commercial side of the business, and randomly changing the regs does that. Again, the FIA cannot legally change the rules and regs, and this is probably what the essence of Ferrari’s argument will be. I believe this is just the opening salvo in FOTA changing the face of F1.

    Well worth clicking through and reading the article:

    1. It’s a good read Arnet,and here it is.

      Friday’s announcement that Ferrari is seeking an injunction against the FIA to prevent it from introducing a two-tier structure to F1 puts a new light on comments made to Pitpass’ Chris Sylt late last year by Bernie Ecclestone. At that time, Ecclestone bluntly told Sylt that since F1’s regulations affect the commercial side of the sport, the FIA should not be writing them. FOTA, the association of F1 teams, may well have cottoned on just in time.

      “The sporting regulations basically are what generate the income and we run the commercial business. The FIA should just be the police looking at the rules,” said Ecclestone and the teams agree.

      “The international federation should simply be the referee. We should write the rules, not have them imposed by Max without speaking to anyone,” said Flavio Briatore, Renault F1 team principal, on Thursday and it looks like he has the law on his side.

      The reason for this is a European Commission ruling in 2001 that said the FIA must “have no influence over the commercial exploitation of the Formula One Championship.” Ecclestone’s comments echo this is as he told Sylt that “when we had this problem with the European Commission, they made it very clear that the FIA purely regulate the sport. Even to the extent that the teams and us should be writing the technical and sporting regulations.”

      But even before the EC ruling, Mosley acknowledged the FIA could not dictate on areas which interfere with the teams’ businesses.

      In 2000, at a UK government Select Committee meeting covering tobacco sponsorship of F1 teams, Mosley said “the difficulty is that we are dealing with commercial entities whom I have to persuade. If I could just say that is it and dictate, but I cannot. We can on the rules, on things like safety, but we cannot on things which would interfere with their commercial affairs.”

      ‘So how can the FIA make the cost-cutting regulations?’, you may well ask. Well the answer, according to Ecclestone, is: “They can’t really. The teams allow them.” He explains that the FIA has been writing the regulations because the teams haven’t opposed it. However, by suggesting the budget cap, Mosley looks to have tipped the balance and the teams are no longer playing ball.

      Pitpass understands that on 10 May FOTA Vice Chairman John Howett was reminded of Ecclestone’s comments that the FIA should not, under European law, be writing F1’s regulations. So even if Ferrari’s injunction fails, the FIA could face further action from the teams and this time its very powers of lawmaking could be at stake.

  18. In truth Max must have something up his sleeve. Just figure that as soon as he got talking about the budget cap Lola, Lightspeed and others dive in. I ask since when are Lola interested in F1 and why now and not before?

    I suspect that Max is interested in diluting the power the major manufactures have on F1. Haven’t anyone asked the question – If we want a low-cost series why not have an F40Cap then all interested parties can join.

    It seems that there are many talk about Ferrari dominance as of recent. In truth Mc Laren have had several runs and if F1 was BORING with Schumacher, why is nobody talking about the BORING F1 when Prost and Senna used to race against each other while the others watched. Incidentally the FIA did nothing then.

    1. My friend,

      First, McLaren, not like Ferrari, had two great drivers and gave them equal opportunities to win, so with a better car, they race each other.

      In the dark Schumacher times, we had ONE Ferrari and a mule painted like a Ferrari, backing up his boss, Schumacher. Like that, even I could be World Champion a few times… and if the mule started to kick… it got fired and then came another – Ervine, Barrichello (still waiting for the book about his time in Ferrari), Massa, none of them had any chance at all… Even when he broke his leg and returned on the last races to ‘help’ Ervine against Hakkinnen, we could see he didn’t really want to help – he couldn’t win, so f**k it, he didn’t care about the team… and the result was a Championship for McLaren…

      You can’t compare these two situations – the duels Prost/Senna were vibrating, thrilling! The races were shows!

      The dark Schumacher era – now that was BORING… just seeing the cars going around and around, knowing before the races started, who was going the win…

      Only I and others, that really love F1, even hating that man, never missed a race!

  19. As usual, Alianora la Canta provides the best analysis of the current situation. She covers all possible outcomes of Ferrari’s case.

    ‘Ferrari has applied to the French civil court to block the 2010 regulations because the FIA has broken Appendix 5 of the Sporting Regulations in applying the budget cap unilaterally. All regulation changes, according to the Sporting Regulations, must go via the Technical Working Group or the Sporting Working Group, according to which of the two primary rulebooks is being modified. Since the budget cap affects both Technical and Sporting Regulations, both the TWG and the SWG would have had to agree before the WMSC were permitted to decide on the matter.

    The FIA took the budget cap idea straight to the WMSC without going through the TWG or SWG. As a result, it is in clear breach of Appendix 5 of the Sporting Regulations. No penalty is specified for the offence, which means that Article 16 applies. Unfortunately none of the penalties in that Article (drive-through penalty, stop-and-go penalty, 25s time penalty, ten-place grid penalty) can sensibly be applied to a governing body. As a result, some other form of redress is necessary. Either the FIA has to be forced to comply with the contract or the teams (current and any who apply for a 2010 entry) have to be compensated for the wasted time and resources.”

    Read on here:

    1. This is not what I’ve read in “La gazzetta dello sport”. It seems Ferrari, has not applied because FIA has broken Appendix 5 of sporting regulations. He has claim his rights according to what was agreed with FIA in the Concorde Agreement signed in 2005.

    2. Clearly, the FIA needs to be given a stop and go penalty.

      That is, Max needs to stop fiddling with the regulations and go quietly into retirement.

  20. Hey, Formula Whatever seems to have some converts – amem! Let me, however, address the objections of those who couldn’t find their faith yet. In order to avoid battles with the TVs, they could give the first year for free (not having Bernie around to take all the money will provide plenty of chance to recoup the investment in the following years). When it comes to court battles, the teams could all move temporarily to Italy or Brazil – the legal processes in these countries are so bizantine that would be a century before anything would be stoped because of them. And if you need more encoragement, think of it: Planetf1 and F1Magazine would continue to be hooked to F1 (or so I pray)! And so would Jack Stweard – so we could have a proper proper measure of danger in the sport again(bring back the Woodcut!). For the Mclaren fans, there are no worries either. How long do you think it would take them to swap formulas? It will be a sad thing to race against the likes of Force India!, Thai Power!, Super Aguri!, Team Shazan! (and Lola, Brawn and USGP….)

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