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. HallDoor said on 19th May 2009, 18:20

    +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.

  2. mfDB said on 19th May 2009, 18:39

    @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.

  3. mfDB said on 19th May 2009, 18:42


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

  4. scunnyman said on 19th May 2009, 19:15

    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.

    • CJD said on 19th May 2009, 19:31

      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”

    • Chaz said on 19th May 2009, 20:54

      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…

  5. scunnyman said on 19th May 2009, 19:22

    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?

  6. Paul said on 19th May 2009, 19:29

    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.

  7. “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:

    • Alex Bkk said on 19th May 2009, 20:54

      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.

  8. sasbus said on 19th May 2009, 19:37

    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.

    • Win7Golf said on 20th May 2009, 1:04

      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!

  9. 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:

    • IDR said on 19th May 2009, 21:49

      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.

    • Ilanin said on 19th May 2009, 22:24

      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.

  10. Antifia said on 19th May 2009, 20:32

    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….)

  11. sunny stivala said on 19th May 2009, 20:54

    How sure is Keith Collantine that the FIA are supposed to write the rules?did he checked with the EU?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 19th May 2009, 21:08

      This goes back to the row between Mosley and the EU in the late ’90s/early ’00s – the upshot of which was that the FIA cannot run the commercial side of F1, which is FOM’s remit, and vice-versa.

      Of course that doesn’t mean that ‘informal’ arrangements don’t work around that – there are plenty of people who believe Ecclestone and Mosley work hand-in-hand…

  12. Sean said on 19th May 2009, 21:22

    I am rooting for Ferrari in this spat with the FIA but it surprises me that people are not naming rulings and “rule clarifications” which clearly helped Ferrari – commensurate with Keith’s comments about Ferrari’s veto over the rules.

    Off the top of my head, and since 1998:

    – The banning of McLaren’s “brake-steer” system
    – The banning of the use of Beryllium alloys in engines
    – The banning of Michelin’s “assymetric groove” tyres
    – The allowance of “manufacturing tolerances” up to 10mm on aero devices (post Bargeboardgate, 1999)
    – The banning of Michelin’s 2003 tyre
    – The banning of mass dampers in 2006

    I’m sure there are more, and then there were all kinds of uses of drive-through and other penalties which added up to a pretty clear pattern.

    Extra “prize” money (not for winning but for being) aside, it beggars belief that there was a Ferrari technical veto at all and it casts an extremely long shadow over the last 11 years in F1.

    • IDR said on 19th May 2009, 21:56

      A veto right does not allows Ferrari (or any other that should have it) to interpret rules in his favor. A veto only gives the right holder the capacity to say no to a new proposal for changing technical regulations.

      All examples you have comented where banned because there were against the regulations at that time.

      Is not the same thing.

    • John H said on 20th May 2009, 0:07


      All examples you have comented where banned because there were against the regulations at that time.

      I’m sorry, but that’s not the case. For example the mass damper was initially deemed legal to use by the FIA, until of course it was then turned into a ‘moveable aerodynamic device’ somehow because Renault were too quick for the Ferrari.

      Anyone who claims a mass damper is part of the aerodynamics is either mad or a liar (or both).

    • Bernification said on 20th May 2009, 0:23

      If the veto is not worth so much, why were Ferrari given it?

  13. Paul said on 19th May 2009, 22:01

    It’s pretty close, dude. It’s an incredible power to give to any team, and it can significantly weigh the odds in their technical favor.

    • IDR said on 19th May 2009, 23:40

      Yes, it’s a big power, but is not the same, quite a lot different.

      If you have a veto right that could mean you can say no if somebody try to implement the capital punishment, but having this right, does not allow you to kill every person you may want to.

  14. HounslowBusGarage said on 19th May 2009, 22:46

    @ Cahaz at 8.54 pm.
    The teams are not tied to the TV networks. It’s Bernie’s organisation that has the liabilty with the TV networks.
    I am informed by someone who works for him that Bernie is ‘feeling the pressure’ at the moment because he is exposed in every contract if he cannot provide a race with ‘n’ contestants. As I understand it, ‘n’ varies from TV contract to TV contract and it has nothing to do with the FIA minimum of twelve contestants to constitute a points earning event.
    Maybe ‘n’ is twenty, maybe 16 in another contract, but Mr Ecclestone is aware that he may struggle to satisfy every contract in the event of a Manufacturer secession.

  15. John H said on 19th May 2009, 23:59

    Sorry I can’t think of anything too constructive to say, but this is just one big mess.

    FIA and Mosley have mismanaged F1 for far too long and things are so ridiculous I almost want the sport to implode just so we can all start again without the FIA.

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