Is the FIA to blame for teams leaving?

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Ferrari believe FIA politics caused Toyota to quit
Ferrari believe FIA politics caused Toyota to quit

As the F1 world waits to learn whether Renault will join Toyota in quitting the sport, the finger-pointing for the manufacturers’ exodus has already begun.

The FIA reacted to Toyota’s decision by claiming it could have been avoided if Max Mosley’s budget cap had been introduced.

Meanwhile Ferrari blamed “those who managed Formula 1 over the past few years” – Max Mosley & co. in other words – for driving major car manufacturers out of the sport. So who’s right?

Defeated FIA president candidate Ari Vatanen chimed in with Ferrari when he gave this interview to CNN following Toyota’s departure:

The FIA’s view is that Mosley saw it all coming and tried to stop it with his budget cap regulations.

In all probablity, neither version of events is entirely accurate. Mosley was correct when he pointed out the manufacturers’ allegiance to F1 would prove to be fickle. But that didn’t stop him cosying up to them in the first place.

Plenty of opportunities to cut costs were missed and several teams that might have been kept going were driven out of the sport. In 2005 all the teams bar Ferrari were united on the need to cut testing, but Mosley did nothing.

That reminds us how quick Ferrari have been to turn on the FIA now the two do not have compatible aims. Rather like their harsh criticism of Williams earlier this year, there’s something decidedly odd about Ferrari’s now-infamous “Agatha Christie” press release:

It could be seen as a parody of ??Ten Little Indians,?? the detective novel by Agatha Christie, first published in England back in 1939, but the reality is much more serious. Formula 1 continues to lose major players: in the past twelve months, Honda, BMW, Bridgestone and, only this morning, Toyota, have announced they are leaving the sport. […]

The reality is that this gradual defection from the F1 fold has more to do with a war waged against the major car manufacturers by those who managed Formula 1 over the past few years, than the result of any economic crisis.

In Christie?s work of fiction, the guilty party was only uncovered when all the other characters died, one after the other. Do we want to wait for this to happen or do we want to pen a different ending to the book on Formula 1?

Back when Ferrari and the FIA enjoyed a more harmonious relationship, the man in charge of the Scuderia was Jean Todt. But don’t expect the two to start getting along again just because he’s now president of the FIA.

Ferrari and the FIA are still dead set against each other and more battles could lie ahead.

Who do you think is to blame for the manufacturers quitting F1? Was the economic downturn always going to drive Honda, BMW and Toyota away? Have your say in the comments.

F1 teams quitting

72 comments on “Is the FIA to blame for teams leaving?”

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  1. YES! I totally agree with Ari Vantanen’s recent comments saying that the manufacturers are disallusioned with F1 governence. If F1 was a beacon of good news it would equal good avenues for marketing and promotion. Even in tough times large companies look for positive promotion. F1 has had nothing but conflict, crisis, and court cases for the last two years. Large companies can’t afford that and they are voting with their feet.

  2. What will be the next “lets get Ferrari” topic? This is the pinnacle of motor sport. If you can’t play with the big boys go home as most manufacturers will. F1 has always had teams come and go but saying Ferrari did whatever whenever in not the answer. Any team that has been in the sport as long as them will have changed opinions and direction. Why not have a topic “is there anyone more passionate about F1 than Ferrari?”
    I can’t understand why the comments about Ferrari have been made because of the use of an Agatha Christie novel, however is you look closely at the analogy it is pretty much spot on. Who do we blame when the sport no longer exists? I can understand that most UK fans are at the present only concerned about the British GP and how the sport can’t survive without it. Can anyone see the non British point of pay up ( cheapest contract with CVC by far), sort out the circuit and lets race on what has been one of the key reces of the season?

    1. Can anyone see the non British point of pay up ( cheapest contract with CVC by far), sort out the circuit and lets race on what has been one of the key reces of the season?

      Exactly what I want Rampante! Silverstone have the best deal they are going to get so they should just sign and get on with it. Nothing more can be done.
      With regards to the topic at hand though I think probably it is just because BMW, Toyota and Renault weren’t winning. BMW went awry and I thought they had a fairly regid programme, Toyota were quite useless they could be quick but too inconsistent which meant that it never amounted to anything. A good kick in the right direction could have helped them and Renault have been through a major scandal, have now lost Alonso and are simply a midfield team (they probably will come back at some point but will be starting afresh).
      However, the political instability and tensions will not have convinced any to stay in the sport. To what depths this played a role well I have no clue.
      I would like to add though that it does seem Ferrari and the FIA are quite seperate at the minute which forgetting the implications, gives me a smile as plenty assumed Ferrari would get everything there own way. I love Ferrari but I did not enjoy the way it was just assumed they were the controllers of the FIA now Todt is in power :P

      1. Actually, Monaco has the best deal – they don’t pay a cent…

        1. U said best deal they are going to get:p. Silverstone won’t get anything more than what’s on offer.

          1. I* sorry about that

    2. Mark Hitchcock
      6th November 2009, 23:01

      Can anyone see the non British point of pay up ( cheapest contract with CVC by far), sort out the circuit and lets race on what has been one of the key reces of the season?

      Isn’t the Monaco contract the cheapest (and most profitable) by far?

      How can Silverstone lose millions each year and improve the facilities to Bernie’s standards? Answer: They can’t.

      Bernie is treating Silverstone the same as he treats the government funded circuits and although lots of people on here seem to think that’s the right way for him to go about this…it isn’t! How can he, or we, expect Silverstone to accept his deal when there is nothing in it for them except losses?
      They are a business just as CVC are and getting into a contract where you are guaranteed to lose money no matter what you do makes no sense what so ever! Bernie knows this, Silverstone knows this, we know this. I don’t know how anyone can defend him on this. It’s an incredibly obvious ploy to get rid of Silverstone from the calendar.

      Back on topic, no I don’t think the FIA are really to blame for the teams leaving. They had a role sure, but the main reason is that Honda, Toyota, Renault etc. are losing lots of money in the “economic downturn” and they have been performing badly in F1 so the big-shots in the companies don’t see the sense in wasting millions of dollars on F1 when it could go somewhere more useful.

    3. Well if Silverstone did have the best deal I am sure they would have signed by now considering Monaco don’t pay any fees so I would say that is the best deal.

      But it doesn’t matter how good a deal Silverstone has been offered compared with other circuits, if the numbers don’t add up and it doesn’t make financial sense they shouldn’t sign it, other Grand Prix can only survive because of big government grants which personally I don’t agree with, and I think it shows that the problem is more with the deals Ecclestone offers to the circuits not the circuits themselves.

  3. Much as I don’t want to say it as a Max Mosley hater, I don’t really think the FIA are too much to blame. Virtually every single car company on the planet has been ravaged by the recession, It’s hardly shocking that they should wish to cut costs, and motorsport is the obvious target.

    1. The problem with this line of argument is that Toyota was one of the loudest voices AGAINST the budget cap – so how could that be to blame for them leaving?

      The issue is that the manufacturers are a fickle bunch. They are run by committees made up of very clever, very dull men and women, many of whom dislike motorsport (and it seems in many cases decent cars). If their team soaks up hundreds of millions of dollars/pounds/dong/whatever annually and still doesn’t win whay keep going?

      That explains Toyota going, but BMW? I think they are going due to the failure of the FIA to properly manage the KERS situation and the ‘cheapening’ of the sport by allowing three virtually non-name teams in. BMW have their image to protect after all.

      1. I’m not really blaming Toyota, I think it’s quite reasonable that they should wish to stop wasting money on their F1 team off the back of the worst recession in 80 years, and after posting losses of about $8 billion recently.

        I do however have a problem with the way they have quit. They have shown contempt to their own employees by not warning them they were planning to withdraw, and the fact they have gone back on their word (and their contracts) hardly gives us an image of a trustworthy company.

        1. They have shown contempt to their own employees by not warning them they were planning to withdraw

          But Toyota are paying it’s employees until the end of February, which will hopefully give a lot of them a chance to find suitable emplyment in the meantime.
          Correct me if I’m wrong, but BMW are not providing such a cushion to its employees – indeed, Robert Kubica only found out through the news headlines!

          Of course, in an ideal world all withdrawing teams would do so in the honourable way of Honda, but in the real world of business that’s too much to wish for.

    2. Agree 100%. Toyota is the notable exception, but they are out because they suck. The team was given a clear ultimatum by Toyota management. Win or we quit.

      BMW gave FIA a clear ultimatum, budget cap or we quit. No budget cap and indeed BMW is out. I guess their poor performance this year didn’t help either, but still.

      Renault, Honda and Williams also told the FIA that a budget cap is a must.

      Only Ferrari and Toyota were against the budget cap when it was supposed to be introduced for 2009.

      Oddly enough the budget cap was first set too high and then too low, but it didn’t matter since Ferrari was never going to accept it anyway.

      BTW Ferrari says that there is a plot to purposefully drive out the manufacturers. Vatanen says that the poor image of F1 caused by mismanagement is a factor in teams quitting. That’s not even close to the same thing.

  4. Are they to blame?

    Well they’re certainly NOT an innocent party!

  5. Sorry to double post, but I read this in the Times the other day and it gives an interesting explanation why Japanese companies like Toyota, Honda and Bridgestone are so quick to quit when the going gets tough:

    Toyota’s decision to leave Formula One is a trophy cull for troubled times — a tearful sacrifice of something shiny and expensive-looking to persuade Japan that its biggest company was not taking recession lightly.

    Toyoda has inherited a giant with extraordinary strengths but equally impressive challenges. He may have to sack thousands in a country that has an ideological contempt for capitalism. Toyota, like its local rivals, has left motor sport because it realised that Japan is in no mood to watch their companies enjoying themselves.

  6. that video from CNN with Ari was utterly superfluous, no wonder he isn’t FIA president, that was rubbish.

    Max got his wish, he isn’t that much of a forward thinker, but he got Toyota to leave.

    While we can bang drums all day long about our beloved F1 but the real tragedy is Toyota’s will in creating their F1 team from the ground up to beat Honda… “hey look, we made our own factory instead of buying one out” … the great game of one up manship that crumbles when you let down the fans, but most of all, the workers.

    They came to cologne for work and promises, they left with just a paycheck.

    Thats the real story, we’ve lost a team but what about all those boys and girls losing there jobs, not just clever clogs engies, but catering staff, logistics, even the cleaner.

    Remember them, including Samantha in catering.

  7. hindsight is a wonderful thing……

  8. I really feel for alot of the teams that 2009 was the year many of them had hoped would bring about change, with so much hope pinned on new car design and KERS technology. The KERS program, in my mind, played a massive part in the huge amount of ill feeling we have seen this season.
    If 2009 was about saving costs for the teams, then the disastrous waste of untold millions on KERS certainly cancelled out any cost saving. One could argue that Honda were not duped by the prospects of KERS and all the talk of ‘closer racing’, and left early. For BMW Sauber, KERS pretty much killed off their season before it had begun. The sorry state of affairs compounded by the fact that most teams had ditched KERS long before Abu Dhabi saw its first paying F1 fan.
    Factor in this summer’s FOTA vs FIA ‘war’ if you will, this years scandal of scandals, and some quite disgusting comments by Max Mosley concerning Ferrari and their importance to the sport.
    All the time, with car sales worldwide dropping like a stone, and with billions of dollars invested, teams were yet again being spoken to like unruly school children in an assembly hall. It was as if, on Flavio Briatore’s yacht at Monaco harbour, the worldwide credit crunch was just an illusion, and everything was just fine. Well, in the mind of Max Mosley atleast.
    For anybody with eyes, and who has a ‘real’ job to go to that maybe gone next week, everything was not fine.
    All the scandals, Ferrari/McLaren in 2007, Singapore 2008, have all tarnished F1’s once envied image in a negative way. With the backdrop of a recession not scene in nearly a century, it made the decision to pull out all the more easier.
    The FIA and Ecclestone must realise one important fact. F1 is only the pinnacle of motorsport only as look as it is percieved to be, without distrust and corruption, but with intergrity. As soon as you lose the respect of the masses, you are in trouble.
    As for the car companies, there are plenty other series that they can go to and make a mark. You must ask yourself, what businessman is going to take all that hassle for so little reward?

    1. So you do feel the teams that left were disallusioned by the governence of the sport?

  9. Who’s to blame? The recession, for the need to cut costs and make symbolic gestures (like Ned’s link suggests)? Of course. The lack of results? Well, it’s no coincidence that the three teams who have left have been, with individual exceptions, woeful under-performers in their last year(s) of F1.

    But the FIA must take some of the blame. They were only too happy for the big names to come in and make it a flashy, expensive sport that could boast of spending millions on cutting-edge technology, and when that became unsustainable they did their best to paint them as the bad boys, shifting their fair share of the blame as usual. On top of this, with the FIA becoming ever more dictatorial and meddling in F1, it’s no wonder many chose to up and leave.

    One thing gives me hope; not only has the balance shifted away from pure manufacturer teams like BMW and Toyota to ones like McLaren, who have more of a symbiotic relationship, and the special case of Ferrari, but of the independents it will be figures such as Dietrich Mateschitz and Vijay Mallya (and the other special case of Brawn GP, who will become more like McLaren as McLaren become more like Ferrari) who will lead the way and not obstructionists like Frank Williams. If the FIA thinks it’s going to have an easy ride with the manufacturers going, one look at the teams who threatened to break away and realise not all of their supposed buddies were on their side.

  10. I think as said above, the reason Honda and toyota (and bridgestone) quit, is because the Japanese mentality.
    We europeans can’t understand that very well.

    That’s why I hope Renault will stay.
    As F1 is a great way of marketing and Renault shouldn’t leave after the scandal, they have much to prove now.
    They should take that challenge!

  11. I think the recession and FIA to blame, Both play equal parts.

  12. Unless the Toyota chairman, Mr Toyoda, was lying, which is extremely unlikely, the reason Toyota have left F1 is the need to cut costs. BMW said the same thing and left for the same reason.

    Assuming the FIA are not to responsible for the world recession, it is absolutely ludicrous to blame them for these companies leaving.

    As to Mosley, surely the whole battle in the summer was him trying to cut costs and the Toyota F1 team and Ferrari resisting. If anyone is to blame it is di Montezemolo for not recognising the need to cut back.

  13. In a word…YES.

  14. Toyota have a global advertising budget of 3 billion dollars, if they cut adverts by 10% they could have been in F1 at no cost. Would the car sales have fallen because of this? BMW also spent 8 time on advertising than F1. It is more of wanting to be in it rather than out.

  15. The resaon is simple.They spent millions of dollars on F1 but came up with empty hands for eight years.It shud have created a bad image from comman man’s perspective “Toyota with the motto of innovation cant build a race winning F1 car which is full of technologies”.It is simple .When u boast of innovation u need to prove it some way.Toyota failed miserably.

  16. Mike "the bike" Schumacher
    6th November 2009, 22:28

    Its both of their faults. The teams for not agreeing to budget caping and mosely for caving in on the pressure not to inforce it.
    The teams say they are going to reduce spending to 1990s levels say around 30-60 million, but Ferrari have signed Alonso for 22.5 million.
    The only things that have truly saved money is the testing ban and the reduction of engines.

    1. The driver’s salaries were not supposed to be part of the budget cap and I don’t believe they are part of the teams’ cost cutting agreement. If we are talking driver salaries, then Ferrari are to blame for hiking those up to the insane level, when they took on a certain M Schumacher in 1996 for many times more than any other driver was getting paid, and then continued the pattern with Raikkonen and now Alonso.

  17. I blame it all on team management. Yes there is a base cost to run a F1 team, but none of those teams needed to spend the insane amount of money they did. When Toyota came into the sport the sky was the limit for their budget. Whatever it costs to win it will be available, as oppossed to starting low and maximizing your limited budget, but knowing more funds could be available if absolutely necessary.

    No one forced these teams to spend the amount of money they did

  18. Absolutely the FIA is to blame…they allowed Max Mosley to run the sport into the ground. Constant rule changes, stupid ideas to improve overtaking, can you say narrow track and grooved tires, scandals, vendettas against anyone who stood up to him, can you say Ron Dennis, incredible arrogance, and a deviate personality much like his father. Made Jean Marie Balestre not look so bad.

  19. I blame Max, the FIA and Bernie for a lot of the things that are wrong with F1 but this is not one of them. I agree with Steph90, this is about them not winning. As rampante pointed out, their global advertising budgets are far in excess of their F1 budgets, but losing all the time is not good advertising. Honda, Toyota and BMW thought that throwing the most money at their F1 team would make them winners and be good advertising for their brands, but it didn’t and it wasn’t. Would any of these really have pulled out if they had been reigning WCC? I don’t think so. The recession has provided a convenient excuse for them to withdraw without having to say ‘actually, it is because we weren’t good enough’.

    1. this is about them not winning.

      In every competition there is only ONE winner.

      If you think not winning is the reason for living, there not will be any medium-long term stability for any motor racing series (or any other competition)

      The point should be just the opposite, what should I have to do for being attractive for not winners to stay in a competition.

      When you fail on this, everybody will go out.

      1. I don’t think winning is the reason for living, and the majority of racing teams don’t either – they exist to ‘go racing’ and if they don’t succeed one year they will come back and try again the next year (if they can afford it). Take McLaren and Ferrari in the early 90s, or Williams in recent years. The point was that I believe the manufacturers entered F1 to advertise their brands, and the lack of success these three manufacturers demonstrated (one race win between them) meant that the venture was a failure for them.

      2. In a competition, there are multiple winners

  20. You say Ferrari and the FIA enjoyed a more harmonious relationship then but it wasn’t all honey. The FIA had introduced single lap qualifying and the new points system specifically undermine them.

    Anyone with a bit of sense knows a budget cap in F1 is in all reality unenforceable. I think the FIA is largely to blame. Honda, Toyota, BMW and Renault are guilty of mismanagement to some extent in one way or another but that’s not to say they wouldn’t have stayed had the series not been run in a different way.

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