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. 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…

  2. 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

      @IDR

      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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Leaf said on 20th May 2009, 0:11

    Its really funny that Bernie is doing the Curly Shuffle trying to placate all parties involved in order to keep the manufacturers interested and thus the money train keeps rolling. After Maxgate Bernie seemed to want to ease Max towards the door. Now that Mosley’s issues have died down he has stated that he always thought that Max is the guy who should be in charge. (of FIA) Wonder what his thoughts about Maxie are right now?
    The teams do rightly need a stronger voice in the rules-making. I do believe if the teams get a stronger voice that maybe, just maybe, the political BS will go away and stay away. I want racing. I don’t want this drama every year! And it is something different EVERY year. Its getting to be like professional wrestling. This whole thing is a big cluster @#%!.

  7. Dane said on 20th May 2009, 0:14

    Meh, Schumacher would still have beaten everyone regardless of any magical veto. Look at where Ferrari is now in the championship. Even Kimi hasnt won in over 1yr.
    As far as Ferrari vs FIA, my money is w/ Ferrari

  8. Bernification said on 20th May 2009, 0:34

    Maybe, just maybe, and I hope this doesn’t sound too radical, the teams could start and run their own series, without the pervert and the poison dwarf.

    If the teams need more cash to finance themselves, why not get rid of the greedy little fool who takes more money than all of them= 50% more money to share.

    Get rid of the sadistic one, and you eliminate all of the cloak and dagger political B.S. and allegations of FIA(T) assistance.

    I’m quite sure now, more so than any time in the past, the teams see that they need each other and it’s in everyones interests to actually co-operate.
    Well lets hope Ferrari now seem to think it’s in their best interest. This could have all happened years ago when RD. threatened the same. Ho hum.

  9. Bernification said on 20th May 2009, 0:37

    If the teams need more cash to finance themselves, why not get rid of the greedy little fool who takes more money than all of them= 50% more money to share.

    What I was trying to say is, would a budget cut be so immediately necessary if the teams got a 100% increase in revenue from tv rights? (Bernie does take 50%, right?).

  10. Patrickl said on 20th May 2009, 0:48

    Why do people insist that having the power of veto doesn’t mean being able to write the regulations.

    To a certain extent it does. Every new rule could be formulated exactly as Ferrari desires it. Otherwise they could veto it.

    That could even mean they might have dictated rule changes under threat of vetoing the regulations if their changes weren’t accepted.

    • Maybe every new rule could be queried to death by Ferrari to the point where they “molded” the new rules but how realistic is that? Have you seen how many technical regulations there are?

      Take ’99 when some bright spark at Illmor(?) proposed KERS. The FIA banned it not Ferrari. Ok it wasn’t in Ferrari’s interest to veto the rule but they weren’t the ones who banned it’s use. If Ferrari had thought of using KERS do you think they could have vetoed the banning of it? I don’t know.

      What about ’09? The rules are hardly tailor made to suit Ferrari now are they. Why didn’t they veto the ruling on two tier diffusers?

    • Patrickl said on 21st May 2009, 23:47

      Why didn’t they veto the ruling on two tier diffusers?

      because they weren’t clever enough to see it in the rules …

  11. 14 out of 20? if that is not domination i don’t know what is..with veto ferrari could design something and if the rules don’t favour their design they could juts veto it until they get what they want..that’s how they got their car to perform so that it could win all the time..patrickl put it in perspective correctly..

    so basically ferrari did cheat since 1998 at least, it was clear, their trophies were bought (bernie) or fixed (veto)..so schumacher is not that great after all..and they brought the sport into disrepute since 1998..no action? don’t dream it..

    sometimes f1 would be better off without ferrari..

  12. Andrew said on 20th May 2009, 3:26

    Maybe the FIA could take the new set of restrictions applied to budget-capped teams and apply them to all the teams. That would satisfy me :D

    • scunnyman said on 20th May 2009, 4:49

      It’s all well and good having the new restrictions apply to all teams for 2010, and i agree i would like that too.
      But the problem is the amount of money the budget should be and how it could ever be policed properly and what penalties would be brought if a team over spent.

  13. Alex Bkk said on 20th May 2009, 4:24

    So,the EU forbids the FIA from writing the rules…but as long as I can remember the FIA have done just that. So who then is supposed to be writing the rules? What gets me is why the teams have gone along with this arrangement for so long. Money?And who is the money man in F1? Bernie of course.

    Patrick said.

    Every new rule could be formulated exactly as Ferrari desires it. Otherwise they could veto it.

    Ok Ferrari has a “special veto” re: tech rules. But the way that I read it is that no team has to agree to rules written by the FIA, as the FIA is not the legal rules writing body of F1. Money?

    Bernei said.

    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.”

    Keith said.

    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…

    Me thinks Keith has nailed it!

    What a lovely mess…

    • I think this goes a long way in explaining Ron Dennis’s untenable position in F1. My guess is he wanted things to run by the book, but he just couldn’t get the support, leading Max to label him dim. Ironic, then that t=now that he’s gone, Max, sweater thread is unwinding.

  14. Alex Bkk said on 20th May 2009, 4:26

    Apologies for the posting errors…been up 30 hours….uggg!

  15. Luc said on 20th May 2009, 7:52

    Against Mosley with this petition: http://www.mosleygohome.0fees.net

    I hope Ferrari will win today in Paris

  16. Bigbadderboom said on 20th May 2009, 13:15

    Ferraris case has been dismissed by french court, just heard on Radio!!!

  17. luky said on 20th May 2009, 13:17

    ferrari claims were rejected by the court.

    not expected. fota need to review their fight and time surely is short. one week.

    possibly they should start their own series…

  18. ****NEWS FLASH*****

    Ferraris appeal has been rejected by the court of appeal! Good News in my opinion.

  19. scunnyman said on 20th May 2009, 13:38

    Well i think if the news that Ferrari’s court case has been rejected is true then it is a bad day for F1 in my opinion.
    I am no Ferrari fan, but the FIA need to be shown they cannot push everyone around, and i mean Mosley.
    The teams now have to stand defiant even more so in my opinion.
    They cannot let this set back split them up.
    This is a very important issue, and one way or another could damage the sport for many many years to come.

    • persempre said on 20th May 2009, 13:43

      Agreed, scunnyman. As I`ve said elsewhere on here, now it`s time to see what other team(s) have the guts to stand up & take the flak & or which is the latest to have accepted an offer too good to refuse from M & B. Anyone want to place bets on the latter?
      Looks more & more like I`ll be watching other series, doesn`t it?

  20. Ferrari’s attempt to overrule FIA budget decision unsuccessful ……..as Nelson from the Simpsons would say ‘haa haa’

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