F1 heads meet again as deadline looms

Toyota's change of management could be the death knell for its F1 team

Toyota's change of management could be the death knell for its F1 team

Today sees yet another meeting on the future of F1 as the teams and the FIA scramble to reach an accord before the FIA’s Friday deadline.

Williams’ decision to submit an entry for next year’s championship appears to signal a split in the F1 teams’ association. But are some teams preparing to take the opposite route and quit the sport entirely?

As the deadline draws closer there have been suggestions that some teams may choose to quit the sport entirely if they don’t get their way. Which ones are most likely to?

BMW

BMW’s dissatisfaction with another FIA-run series, the World Touring Car Championship, has driven them to breaking point. BMW had won four consecutive titles in the series with Andy Priaulx, but believe FIA rules changes have left them unable to compete.

Mario Theissen said:

The decisions taken were not communicated cleanly – that means competitors did not know what the situation was, and under which circumstances and conditions the other competitors were racing. This only became clear when there was a protest.

This was in reference to BMW being unaware what boost pressure rivals Seat were allowed to use. But it’s not difficult to see BMW’s grievances about differing technical regulations mirrored in the FIA’s controversial proposed two-tier system.

Simply put, BMW’s exasperation with the FIA’s governance may not be confined to the WTCC. Having compromised their 2008 F1 programme to develop their 2009 machine, but finding it uncompetitive partly thanks to the FIA’s handling of the diffuser rules, it’s not hard to imagine how they might be frustrated by the FIA.

It has spoken of competing in another touring car championship. Defecting to the DTM would put it up against its two major domestic rivals, Audi and Mercedes, which could serve as an alternative not just to the WTCC – but F1 as well.

Toyota

Toyota’s future in F1 was in doubt before the season began, especially so after the withdrawal of arch-rival Honda in December.

Over the winter team boss John Howett set the team a target of winning a race this year, coming off the back of seven seasons that yielded just eight podium finishes:

We have to win, I think that?s clear. This organisation really only exists to win so we have to realise that we need to really make a change and deliver some outstanding performance this year.

Toyota might have already delivered on that had it not been for the odd strategy in Bahrain. But since that race the team have bombed, finishing qualifying at Monaco with the two slowest times.

Next month Akio Toyoda, grandson of company founder Kiichiro Toyoda, will take over as chief executive of the company from Katsuaki Watanabe. Drastic changes are expected: in February the company projected a $3.5bn (??2.2bn/??2.5bn) loss for the last financial year – earlier this month it confirmed a figure of $4.4bn (??2.8bn/??3.1bn).

What chances, then, the future of what has been F1’s biggest-spending team for several years, which under Howett is arguing for the right to spend more than ??40m per season?

Perhaps Williams’ decision to sign up to the 2010 rules gives us an inkling of what the future holds for Toyota’s F1 team. Williams’ Toyota engine contract is up for renewal this year. If Toyota are indeed on their way out of the sport, Williams will need a new engine deal, and the FIA’s customer Cosworth engines could be just the ticket.

Renault

Given their slump in form post-2006, and inability to capitalise on the new regulations to re-discover their form this year, it’s hardly a surprise that Fernando Alonso is being touted as a Ferrari driver in 2010.

Renault has received a ??6bn (??5.5bn) bail out from Nicolas Sarkozy’s government – would it be politically wise to spend a chunk of that money on running an F1 team?

It has also lost primary sponsor ING, the Dutch bank which was also forced to turn to its government for help.

Read more: ING quits F1 ?ǣ will Renault follow?

Ferrari

Have made a lot of threats about leaving F1, but where would their marketing presence be without it?

Would they get anything like the same kind of exotic appeal racing a diesel at Le Mans, or running an effective one-make series in the form of A1 Grand Prix?

In the wider economy some analysts are optimistically talking about ‘green shoots’ of recovery. But as has often been well observed in the past, motor sport tends to feel the full brunt of a recession long after it hits the headlines. The shockwaves travel through sponsors and manufacturers and eventually hit the teams in the form of slashed budgets.

Is that going to happen now? Can the teams, Mosley and Ecclestone reach a new deal that keeps the remaining manufacturers in the sport while enticing new teams in to replace those that will depart?

Which F1 teams do you think will still be competing in 2010? Cast your vote and have your say below:

Update: Sorry about the broken poll before – this has now been fixed!

Which teams will still be in F1 next year?

  • Ferrari (68%)
  • McLaren (83%)
  • BMW (39%)
  • Renault (44%)
  • Toyota (24%)
  • Williams (90%)
  • Red Bull (76%)
  • Toro Rosso (61%)
  • Brawn GP (93%)
  • Force India (83%)

Total Voters: 250

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130 comments on F1 heads meet again as deadline looms

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  1. epi said on 27th May 2009, 10:23

    I think the poll is rigged :), it says maximum number of choices is 1?

  2. ajokay said on 27th May 2009, 10:26

    Clicked vote, error message:

    “Maximum number of choices allowed: 1.”

    Well… ok, Williams it is then.

  3. Dougie said on 27th May 2009, 10:34

    Yep, it only allows you to make one choice.

    The obvious answer therefore is Williams ;-)

    For the record, in order of likelyness, I rate Toyota, Renault & then BMW to pull out before anyone else. In fact I don’t see anyone else pulling out, and I for one won’t miss the 3 manufacturers… well maybe Renault & Flav a little.

    Cosworth is going to have a bumber year next year. Ferrari & Mercedes probably supplying 3 teams each (maybe 4 for Mercedes). If I was Mercedes I would return to engine/gearbox/kers (or combinations of) supplier only, ditch the partnership with McLaren… and get the badge on all the supplied teams.

    • Tom Watson said on 27th May 2009, 17:08

      Aren’t mercedes major share holders in mclaren, like 40% and mclaren are much more than just an f1 team

    • Tom Watson said on 27th May 2009, 17:22

      Aren’t mercedes major share holders in mclaren, like 40% and mclaren have other divisions. So would it not be more beneficial to continue it’s partnership with mclaren in motorsport and the roadcar aspects as well as engine supplier to multiple teams?

    • Dougie said on 27th May 2009, 18:44

      Yeah, you’re probably true. I guess I just want the teams to operate independently of the manufacturers, who would just supply the engines.

  4. Dougie said on 27th May 2009, 10:35

    ps. I don’t expect them all to pull out next year (though they might) but I expect the 3 I mentioned to pull out before anyone else does.

  5. rayan said on 27th May 2009, 10:44

    i voted 4 force india.but i really worry abt ferrari.if they quit,i will not watch f1,hope many do the same

  6. PJA said on 27th May 2009, 10:54

    I think Williams, Brawn, Force India and McLaren will definitely be in F1 next year. Ferrari and Red Bull may miss the deadline but will most likely still be in also. Toro Rosso will probably also be in but possibly under different ownership. While Toyota, Renault and BMW may use the current argument as an excuse to quit F1.

  7. CRM said on 27th May 2009, 10:56

    The combination of not challenging for the title and the recession will be the end of Toyota and BMW in F1 I think (for next few seasons at least). Theres no way they can justify an unsuccesful F1 operation with road car sales plummeting and the companies themselves struggling.

    Hopefully Renault and Ferrari will both stay.

  8. schumi the greatest said on 27th May 2009, 11:43

    I dont think ferrari will pull out their threats are just a way to try and get their own way again!

    I think toyota are pretty much gone already, before the season started i remember trulli saying they had 2 win in the 1st 6 races or it would be the end of the team. Well 6 races in they havent won a race although this has been their most competetive year to date.

    BMW have ended up with alot of egg on their face, they were the ones who opposed to the delay in kers and they dont even use it now because their car is poor. i dont know much about the fall out with the wtcc thing but i think they definitley are considering their future.

    Renault always seem to be on about pulling out, wasnt that the reason alonso signed a deal with mclaren staright after hed won his 1st tittle??

    the global recession and the consequent pathetic arguing with the fia has given them an excuse to pull out.

    When i 1st heard about this row and teams threatening to pull out i was worried about how it would affect the sport i love so much and whether id ever have the same enthusiasm to watch it without the big names but, before jaguar bought stewart in 99 the only full manafacturer team was ferrari. f1 was great before and it will be the same again, it will bring back the privateers who only want to be there to race, not use it as an expensive pr exercise.

    Aslong as other teams can come in and replace the manafacturers il be happy, f1 is probably in the best shape ive ever seen it in terms of talented drivers.

    Long live f1

  9. StrFerrari4Ever said on 27th May 2009, 11:50

    It seems as if the big guns Ferrari , Toyota , Renault & BMW could miss the FIA’S deadline date but they will soon realise the importance of F1 to them and possibly buy a small team and bring in their personel etc.
    Regarding Red Bull & Toro Rosso I really dont know what Mr Mateschitz will do I hope they do stay on and people suggesting that Toro Rosso will be bought is pretty absurd because on their website on an article they said they wouldn’t sell up despite Red Bull wanting a buyer they said they are in a healthy condition and have no reason to quit or be bought out.
    That sounds very reassuring for me as an STR fan.
    Regarding the other teams particularly the British teams Mclaren , Williams , Brawn & you could say Force India as it was former Jordan and is British based they will stay on In my honest opinion.

  10. m0tion said on 27th May 2009, 11:50

    I heard Windsor saying that the Cosworth needs to run out to 20,000 rpm to be usable and they can’t be reengineered in time. That means a 2 speed regulatory environment is absolutely on the table anyway because I don’t think the manufacturers besides maybe Renault could turn the crew back up again quickly due to major mods they have made through last year on the engines. I am a supporter of 2 speed because I can’t see it happening any other way. If some one could explain how any new entrant could get in and financed without it I would listen. And staying with or supporting the current grid encumbancy with Toyota in doubt and Torro Rosso on the edge of their seats looks an impossible option too.

  11. Prisoner Monkeys said on 27th May 2009, 11:55

    I suspect that if anyone withdraws, it will be over sponsorship or a lack of results. In fact, I’d say all ten teams have prepared entries for 2010; all that remains is to submit them.

    If anybody is going to go, it’s Renault. Yes, Alonso had some results last year, but they came under some pretty exceptional circumstances, like Massa’s fuel rig tearing in Singapore. They simply can’t get any results, and Briatore’s poor management style means Alonso is the ony one who has any chance at anything.

  12. Striay said on 27th May 2009, 12:15

    The poll should allow more than 1 choice. Also Williams should not be included because they have already entered the 2010 championship, so ive heard. I know they could bail out due to financial problems like Honda but, we are talking about the rule changes here arent we? (correct me if im wrong)!

  13. Ronman said on 27th May 2009, 12:16

    Same grievance as the first comments, i think all will stay and Toyota might take the highway.

    however BMW’s lack of performance this year has nothing to do with how the FIA handled Diffuser gate. more like how they completely misunderstood the regulations to start with. i think they put too much effort into Kers and sacrificed the effort needed on design. or something along those lines….

    Toyota will probably go, cause 8 years billions of dollars and 0 wins is aching for someone to fall on his sword in the land of the rising sun.

    Renault can leave, they have other series they already handle be it formula renault or world series, their absence from formula one will not make the Twingo handle any worse.

    Ferrari on the other hand will loose possibly as much as F1 in terms of appeal in case they do leave. it’s hard to distinguish one without the other. to what series would F1 lean to when marketing the new gearbox on the 599? or the suspension setting on the next F car? they need F1, just like F1 needs them.

    eventually i can see that both FIA and the teams will compromise to keep Bernie and the fans happy. fans, even casual ones will drop both the team’s and F1 if both cease to exist, and if they spilt that’s what they would be doing.

    however if Max, and that’s my biggest take on MadMax, wants F1 to be cheaper, and more accessible, he should come up with a trick to force Ecclestone to lower his fees and charge circuit attendance much much much less than he does today. because a sport with half empty grandstands is not truly worth saving, for TV viewers, they can just switch to the next channel. or is Bernie planning some sort of future like we saw in the movie death race?

    • persempre said on 27th May 2009, 21:50

      This is the same Max & FIA who made each entry pay a 48 million dollar bond, isn`t it?
      That`s why the small teams couldn`t play & that was precisely the reason the bond was brought in – to keep them out.

  14. S Hughes said on 27th May 2009, 12:24

    It sounds like something out of ‘The Godfather’ – the heads of the Five Families meeting. I just think Mosley should resign. They can’t do anything with his attitude and intransigence. I also think they should stick together and am very disappointed with Williams.

    On a different note, what a boring championship! It’s kind of over already. Contrast that to the last 2 years, particularly last year, when it was all decided on the final corner of the final lap of the final race. And it infuriates me when people pontificate about Button being “the most complete driver in F1”. Does that mean that Rubens Barrichello is the second most complete driver as he lies second? NO, it means that the Brawn car is head and shoulders above the rest of the field and any driver on the grid in one of those cars would be first or second. What a farce of a season. At least last year, the McLaren and the Ferrari were more evenly matched with each car shining at different circuits throughout the year. If Button wins this year, it will be the most undeserved in F1 history. Rant over!

    • ajokay said on 27th May 2009, 14:04

      If Hamilton was in the Brawn and winning the championship, would you think he was the most complete driver in F1? I bet you would.

    • Rabi said on 27th May 2009, 15:14

      that’s not what he’s saying.

      and i completely agree with him on both counts

    • leo said on 27th May 2009, 15:18

      To Hughes the rant,just a tad over the top there,Hughes.
      Seems to me,no one gave a dame while BUTTON Was doing badly.
      Now that he has great ride,you think it’s Bogus!!!
      Give some though to 10 boring years we had w/ Ferrari.
      That was so much fun,iam still getting over it
      Just to mention (boring)I Recall a remark from Ron.
      Well,they need to catch up to us……..leo

    • S Hughes said on 27th May 2009, 15:28

      If Hamilton was in the Brawn and winning the championship, would you think he was the most complete driver in F1? I bet you would.

      If Lewis and Heikki in the Brawn were 1 and 2 in most races in a season, I would have the honesty to admit it is a huge amount down to the car. Especially as there are excellent drivers like Kimi, Massa and Alonso coming nowhere near.

    • Alex Bkk said on 27th May 2009, 15:40

      Dougie, yes that was meant for you, but it seems your a big fan of everyone;)

    • Dougie said on 27th May 2009, 16:08

      If Lewis and Heikki in the Brawn were 1 and 2 in most races in a season, I would have the honesty to admit it is a huge amount down to the car. Especially as there are excellent drivers like Kimi, Massa and Alonso coming nowhere near.

      I think anyone and everyone who knows Formula 1 knows that it is a “huge amount down to the car”. Hence why “great” drivers like Alonso, Kimi & Lewis are nowhere and now its Jensons turn at the front. However this is now Buttons chance to show just how he belongs in that group, and I for one have always believed in him and his performances this year confirm that. To knock what are great performances in the car (and I agree Martin Brundle overstepped the mark) is in my view acting blind to the reality.

      Ross Brawn at the start of the season openly admitted he did not know Button as he hadn’t worked with him much, but the team were telling him that Jenson was one to watch… and Ross now concurs with that view and even makes references to Schumacher when talking about him… these are all people who know what makes a good driver great.

      I’m not saying who is better than who, but Jenson has shown this year (and in previous years in my view) that he is a top drawer driver waiting for the right car. Here it is and his performances in it are outstanding!

    • Dougie said on 27th May 2009, 16:19

      Dougie, yes that was meant for you, but it seems your a big fan of everyone;)

      LOL!! Not quite, there are some exceptions :-D

    • Scott Joslin said on 27th May 2009, 19:27

      Deal with it, this stuff happens throughout F1 all the time. Are you going discredit almost every champion ever that drove a car with an advantage over their rivals, Schumacher, Senna, Prost all had the best car with clear advantages over their rivals when they won some of their championships – are you going to take strips off them too? Brawn did a better job than everyone else and Jenson is driving superbly is delivering the maximum that car and achieve, that’s all he can do.

      If you want car equallity too then follow nascar or GP2 – This is always going to happen.

  15. Richard said on 27th May 2009, 12:26

    Williams’ decision to submit an entry for next year’s championship appears to signal a split in the F1 teams’ association.

    I dont think thats quite right. Williams like force india and brawn are racing teams, that is all, unlike ferrari bmw etc who have the retail cars, i think williams will race in F1 as long as they can afford it, the FIA know that FOTA know it and i dont think its big news.

  16. Dougie said on 27th May 2009, 12:42

    what a boring championship! It’s kind of over already.

    Really!?! There are still 110 points up for grabs and Jenson is only 16 points ahead. I guess that would explain why you are not racing in F1 if you give up that easily.

    it means that the Brawn car is head and shoulders above the rest of the field

    Rubbish! Force India is consistently closer to Brawn than any backmarker has been closer to the field leaders at any time in the history of the sport.

    people pontificate about Button being “the most complete driver in F1”. Does that mean that Rubens Barrichello is the second most complete driver as he lies second? NO

    I don’t believe anyone is saying Button is THE most complete driver in F1 currently… Alonso I believe still has that mantle… however, Jenson is showing a maturity of driving that people probably didn’t believe he had, and has raised his game beyond all expectations. Last year people were saying Jenson is rubbish and Rubens was consistently beating him… now those same people are saying its the car and Rubens is being secretly given a supporting role… RUBBISH!!… in equal Ferraris Rubens beat Schumi on occasion… in equal Brawns Jenson is giving Rubens a hiding.

    Should Jenson go on to take the title, he deserves it at least equally as much as any previous champion, more so than some I would say. Name me one champion who didn’t have one of the fastest cars on the grid?

    • S Hughes said on 27th May 2009, 12:55

      I don’t believe anyone is saying Button is THE most complete driver in F1 currently

      Actually, Martin Brundle (of all people) has said that in his recent blog. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/8067217.stm

      It isn’t ONE of the fastest cars on the grid, it is THE fastest car on the grid. So how much do you rate Rubens? Is he really the second best driver on the grid? Ergo, is Jenson really the best driver on the grid? Last year, Rubens beat Jenson in a poor car, 11 points to 3. Surely the mark of a truly great driver is one who gets the most out of even a poor car, and doesn’t give up and shrug his shoulders while collecting his millions, which is what Jenson did last year. He’s just lucky lucky lucky.

    • James G said on 27th May 2009, 18:44

      @ S Hughes

      You wrote: ‘Surely the mark of a truly great driver is one who gets the most out of even a poor car.’

      No, the mark of a great driver is someone who turns it on when he needs to turn it on and you can’t deny that he’s done that. Look at his qualifying times in Bahrain and Monaco for evidence of that.

  17. Journeyer said on 27th May 2009, 12:53

    Rubbish! Force India is consistently closer to Brawn than any backmarker has been closer to the field leaders at any time in the history of the sport.

    That may be true, but do they have anything to show for it? Zero points say no.

    The point is, Brawn may only be slightly ahead, but they are CONSTANTLY ahead. If they weren’t head and shoulders ahead of the rest, they wouldn’t have won 5 of the first 6 races.

    • Dougie said on 27th May 2009, 13:11

      Journeyer (and SHughes),

      On more than one occasion Red Bull have had the faster car, but their strategy let them down on all occasions bar China. Ferrari were faster in Monace but didn’t make the most of it.

      What do you want here?? Brawn to mess up like everyone else, or should we be chastising the other teams to pull their acts together. Personally, I am applauding Brawn for showing them how it should be done, and was applauding Red Bull in the first few races as well because I saw potential but unfortunately they’ve dropped the ball a bit.

    • S Hughes said on 27th May 2009, 14:00

      Dougie, at least here you are giving (justified) plaudits to the car and the team and not the driver!

    • Dougie said on 27th May 2009, 15:04

      Dougie, at least here you are giving (justified) plaudits to the car and the team and not the driver!

      I though I had always said the winner is the best combination of team and driver!?! Here I am appluading the teams contribution, at other times I am applauding Jensons contribution.

      If Ross & Nick are looking to sign Jenson for the “rest of his career”, and Ross (a man who has steered Schumacher through his career) has been very emotional and vocal in his surprise and praise of Jenson… then I think enough said.

    • S Hughes said on 27th May 2009, 15:32

      Dougie

      has been very emotional and vocal in his surprise and praise of Jenson

      That says it all really. Ross is as “surprised” as the rest of us because it just don’t add up from his performances to date. And what about Rubens in second place? You haven’t addressed that yet.

    • Dougie said on 27th May 2009, 16:13

      And what about Rubens in second place? You haven’t addressed that yet.

      I have addressed why Rubens is second to Jenson (as Rubens has been throughout their time together) and also why the consistency of the Brawn team have allowed them to remain ahead of the sometimes faster cars around them.

  18. Antifia said on 27th May 2009, 13:04

    Come on Dougie. We have seen it all before (Williams 92 & 93, Ferrari 02 & 04). Brawn is in two states when compared to the rest: In some tracks they are ahead enough and in others they blow up the field. Don’t expect it to become any more competitive throughout the year (well, perhaps in the last races, when everything is already decided). When it comes to Barrichello being a rival, that won’t happen either. Believe what you want, but they have been racing in the same team for a few years with very similar results. Now, suddenly Button learned how to drive better or Rubens got rusty. Or, as I believe, Brawn decided that Rubens is the #2. Either way, no competition will come from that corner either.

    • S Hughes said on 27th May 2009, 13:10

      Egggsactly!

    • John H said on 27th May 2009, 14:04

      Or, as I believe, Brawn decided that Rubens is the #2

      I know it’s your belief, but the facts really don’t add up with that one – perhaps Jenson is just a quicker driver who manages his tyres better..? I think there’s quite a lot of evidence to suggest this IMO.

  19. Journeyer said on 27th May 2009, 13:12

    Williams has been suspended from FOTA.

    What on earth is FOTA thinking…!?

  20. graigchq said on 27th May 2009, 13:13

    I think that McLaren, Ferrari, Brawn, Renault and Williams will all be there in 2010, and surprisingly, i think Force India will stay put too. To be in a small team in the current situation does give them a hope for the future.

    Lets say a budget cap is introduced, then the smaller teams all of a sudden have a very even playing field uopn which to fight.

    That said, i thoroughly sympathise with Ferrari’s position, as Formula 1 IS supposed ot be the pinnacle of motor racing, and £40m means huge cutbacks for the biggest teams, and most importantly forced job losses which nobody wants at all.

    Its a really interesting argument this, one which i am following and hope to see a resolution for very soon. I’d like to see all the teams compete next year, along with two or three newer ones, Lola, iSport for example. The extra competition is needed, as is fresh ideas and new ways of thinking around the problems they face. Taking away refuelling will definitely spice thigns up a bit, its just a shame that in this day and age, the most exciting racing comes from the lower ranks of motorsport: touring cars, GT1, LMP1 etc etc

    i suppose this is testiment to how close the pack really is, when less then 2s a lap seperates 1st from 20th, and the entire race is conducted with the leading few cars arriving at the finish line seconds apart. How can this change? Obviously the FIA is trying, but new rules and arguments don’t directly translate into better more exciting racing in my view.

    ON a side note, I’d like to see less talk of monaco being such a historic race, cos lets face it, its a procession EVERY year, SO much money is spent on it, yet since 1992 (think Mansell, Senna) we’ve known that you need to be CONSIDERABLY faster in order to overtake there, why do they still spend so much time on such a predictable and boring race? Where are the wider, faster tracks like Istanbul (probably my fave tilkedrome) where there are multiple racing lines drivers can take to try and gain an advantage over their competitors?

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