Is the FIA to blame for teams leaving?

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

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

  1. Mike "the bike" Schumacher said on 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.

    • Sharon said on 6th November 2009, 23:18

      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.

  2. Brakius said on 6th November 2009, 22:33

    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

  3. 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.

  4. Sharon said on 6th November 2009, 23:12

    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’.

    • 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.

      • Sharon said on 7th November 2009, 9:51

        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.

      • Patrickl said on 7th November 2009, 13:05

        In a competition, there are multiple winners

  5. 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.

  6. Maciek said on 6th November 2009, 23:43

    Haven’t we all forgotten to invite a certain someone to this party? More than anyone else, hasn’t it been Bernie Ecclestone who has guided F1 into its descent from motorsport into a bloated, over-priced, artificial, and passionless ‘sunday showcase’? For everything that we can throw at Max Mosely, he did try to lower the costs – too drastically, and too despotically, but it was the right idea.

    And the astronomical finances go hand in hand with the technology. I keep saying it, this sport is a victim of its own advances. We’ll see if the refuelling ban will bring back some genuine racing, but as impressive and fascinating as all the technology in those cars is in theory, in practice it translates not into racing cars but into very fast, very sleek, and very fragile lap-time machines. They’re made to go fast, but not to race. No one seems to agree, but if I were making the rules I would tear much of those electronics out of there, and impose materials that withstand light impact better. And I would limit communications between team and driver. I don’t think that racing drivers should have to be told lap in and lap out exactly how they’re doing, to go faster, to go slower… just freakin’ drive man! Racing needs to be put back into the hands of drivers. With all the imperfections that that implies. Anyhoo that’s what I would do if I were in charge. (That’s my periodic and totally unrealistic anti-technology rant)

    I’m convinced that if the sport were just plain more about racing, and just plain more affordable the current crises that ail it would not be around. And as for partitioning blame between the teams and the FIA – well, you need political will for compromises on both sides, and that certainly wasn’t happening when Max Mosely was there, let’s hope that Jean Todt will turn out to steer things in the right direction.

    • Martin said on 7th November 2009, 3:45

      Your analysis is very good. It isnt just Max and the FIA but Bernie and company that have lead to the downfall.
      Someone previous said that BMW and Toyota as well as Honda came into the sport and talk of innovating but couldnt develop a winning car. So after a few years they pack it in. we have seen this of Honda before and for Toyota to do it was no surprise either. When BMW did it I was surprised as I thought they were a company that would prove they could then withdraw to be just an engine supplier. But in reality they are taking the Honda planet green path and have gone home to lick there wounds.
      The removal of refeuling is going to add a new twist to the sport as tey can still come in and perform a tire change but no feul, I like this as it will really seperate the racers from the wanna be’s.
      Todt has his work cut out for him and I hope he gets it right, but I dont hold alot of hope. If Max is allowed to have any influence on the way it is run then the sport is on its way to irrelevence.
      If Todt can get the situation under control and break this rediculous contract with FOM and get racing back to the tracks that made it great then we have a chance for a great new beginning.

  7. Prisoner Monkeys said on 6th November 2009, 23:53

    The FIA is not to blame – it’s the manufacturers themselves. I find it pretty telling that teams like Williams have been in the sport for thirty years, while teams like BMW have only lasted three. It’s because Williams is a racing team, and wholly concerned with race. BMW were more interested in developing KERS.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 7th November 2009, 0:28

      To be fair, before BMW’s four years as an independent team they did spend six years as en engine supplier… to Williams.

      • Prisoner Monkeys said on 7th November 2009, 2:43

        I don’t think tht really counts – Williams were independent. BMW Sauber were an independent team that had been purchased by and reconfigured as a works outfit. Thi whole thing forms the basis of that guest article I sent you … but at 2,000 words, it might be a little long.

    • Martin said on 7th November 2009, 3:56

      Wrong, the FIA is to blame. The constant changing of the rules and the constant attacking certain teams is what lead this to happen. Look at all the time and energy that was spent going after first Mclaren, then Renault. Why would any mfg stay in this enviroment of constant headhunting of any team that dared to oppose any position that the FIA had. The situation you bring out is that a team like Williams is run by 2 or 3 people and they answer to themselves. The want to race and that is what they do. McLaren is the same to a lesser extent. Ferrari is a Mfg who has stayed with it for the entire modern era of the sport thru the good and the bad. BMW, Honda and Toyota are different. The difference is that the BOD of all these teams that quit are part of the time for the racing and then they arent.
      None of the teams were interested in kers until it was forced upon them and when the FIA said it would look at dropping it teams like BMW said no way as they had spent millions developing it.(I would have took the same approach).
      Now the mfg’s arent saints by any stretch but they all want to race in a stable enviroment and that isnt happening right now with the FIA>

      • Prisoner Monkeys said on 7th November 2009, 5:13

        Manufacturers do not exist for the purpose of racing cars. They exist to sell cars. They are the ones responsible for driving costs up. They are the ones who are more interested in brand recognition and marketing opportunities than racing. If the breakaway series had gone ahead, the manufacturers would have run it right into the ground. The President and Vice-President of FOTA represent manufacturers. The meetings they held were conducted on manufacturer territory – they met at Enstone during the British Grand Prix, but the headquarters of Red Bull and Force India are both closer.

        Worse, the manufacturers cause trouble. The sport’s biggest embarrassments and controversies – the Singapore incident, the espionage affair – can be laid at the feet of manufacturer or manufacturer-backed teams. Even Ferrari aren’t absolved; I don’t think there’s been a more polarising team in the sport, what with all the perceived bias towards them. Formula One needs racing teams, not people who are more interested in developing some new toys for their line of road cars. If they want that, go to Le Mans.

        We need less manufacturers, and more racing teams. If it were down to me, I’d sell Toyota to someone like Aguri Suzuki. Renault would be in the hands of Henri Pescarolo or ART Grand Prix. And Toro Rosso – not strictly a manufacturer, but a glorified GP2 team – would be returned to Minardi. Formula One should first and foremost be about racing. Keep the manufacturers on as engine suppliers or whatever, but we don’t need entire teams who have to wait for ther budget to be approved by a boardroom half a world away – and populated by anonymous business-types who have never been to a race in their life – before they can start developing the next season’s car.

        • Most manufacturers participate in some form of motorsport for historical as well as commercial reasons. The truth is that manufacturers are an integral part of motorsport as a whole including F1, and thus it has always been. Renault have a huge role in FIA licensed events from GP2, to World Series, to Formula Renault. BMW participate in WTCC, DTM, Formula BMW. Honda compete in IRL and Moto GP, Toyota in Nascar. You can’t question their racing pedigree or their commitment to motorsport, Ferrari least of all. How many other teams have gone 21 years without winning a championship and remained in the sport? Answer this and then you start to understand Ferrari’s commitment.

          The reason BMW left was because they were not interested in developing the basic out-dated KERS that the FIA prescribed. They like others thought that F1 should be the technological pinnacle of motorsport not a glorified GP2. Yes Toyota were fundamentally unsuccessful but the same is not true of the others. In their short time on the grid BMW had done reasonably well with some good race performances and strong championship placings. Honda had won a race and finished second in the constructors and may well have won a championship had they stayed in the sport. Renault won four championships.

          Maybe if the FIA and FOG gave the teams a greater share of the massive profits it might help them to cut costs. But I don’t think say Toyota were really that interested in cutting costs, they were more interested in participating in a championship that was regarded as a technological pinnacle, one that had a positive image and a world wide appeal, this can no-longer be said of F1. You can’t blame the manufacturers for scandals caused by corrupt individuals. Skulduggery is rife in F1 just look at the current situation with Force India or the FIA presidential elections. You can’t say it’s confined to manufacturers.

          Currently teams barely design their own cars the rules are so prescriptive and constrictive. Take the manufacturers out of F1 (there are only two left) and you end up with what amounts to little more than GP2 if that. If that was the case I would go and watch the Le Mans series.

  8. gabal said on 7th November 2009, 0:17

    The real answer is complicated and the easiest thing is to point finger and say that is the one and only cause. The nature of big manufacturers is to pull out when things get tough, it has happend before and the sport survived it quite all right. One phase of F1 is over, another is starting…

  9. Jhunt123 said on 7th November 2009, 1:44

    Glad Ari didn’t get the gig he’s totally not on the same skill level as the other players. He just make himself look foolish and like a sore loser, probably should get a strategist or PR person.

  10. USF1fan said on 7th November 2009, 1:59

    While the economy plays a part in this, you have to place blame with the FIA. Costs are coming down in the next 3 years, and as mentioned before, advertising budgets are much larger than motorsport budgets. With the scandals and poor governance, the manufacturers don’t want to bother wasting time. The key, though, is that Honda, BMW, and Toyota all say they are not cutting the motorsport programs in other formula–just F1. Why, when F1 has the most exposure, technology, and recognition? It can only be about the governance.

  11. Mahir C said on 7th November 2009, 2:24

    I dont understand, people are endlessly bashing manufactures here, saying how much you prefer independent teams etc. why so grim when they finally leave? If FIA caused them to leave, kudos to them right?

  12. sumedh said on 7th November 2009, 2:36

    Its a bit of both. But I assume that the economic crisis is more at blame than FIA.

    Agreed, Advertising budget is ten times that of the Formula 1 teams. But, advertising brings in certain amount of returns. Whereas a Formula 1 team brings in nothing (Number of wins by BMW, Toyota, Honda = 2 over 11 years of competing together), thus undoing the advertising group’s efforts.

    FIA is also to blame. If only FIA had ensured a race in USA, Canada and France – big markets for manufacturers – these teams might have stayed.
    Money spent in F1 is only the tangible loss, the intangible loss caused to the brand by not winning is significantly higher.

  13. paxdog57 said on 7th November 2009, 2:53

    F1 and car manufacturers have to react to the major forces in play that is effecting the world. In particular, peak oil and climate change. The world is looking for answers to these questions and the car manufacturers and F1 was doing “business as usual”. I thought it was interesting the link to former F1 designer, Gordon Murray and his new electric car. He was looking not only at ecological and economical transportation but also how the manufacturing process was carbon responsive. Racing should be a testing bed for new technologies so the companies can promote their leading edge approaches.

  14. wong chin kong said on 7th November 2009, 2:59

    Why blame the FIA? The FIA did not force the team to participate the F1 at gun point. It is just that the teams are unable to survive the gruelling conditions in what is in F1 today. As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, only the tough gets going.

  15. David said on 7th November 2009, 5:47

    I’m afraid to say that most of the reasons for teams quitting is teams theirselves. FIA may probably have done something wrong in the past, but most of the proposals to cut costs were issued by FIA, and refused by teams. I con’t remember a single proposal made by the teams.
    Ferrari has been probably the hardest there: they are opposing to test ban, and during the long Shumacher era they were contrary to all initiatives. I think FIA was too soft there, and accepted Ferrari dominance without any attempt to make formula 1 more spectacular by competition perspective.
    At the end I would say there are two ways to promote Formula 1: one is trying to make it as more uncertain as possible, with easy technical rules, cost limitation, high number of teams involved; the other is make it a “brand” with high cost, big constructors involved only, marketing aspects at the top. FIA and teams had chosen this second option and teams are paying the price.
    Regarding scandals and justice trials…well, it’s not FIA that started cheating, or stealing drawings.

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