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. Jonathan said on 7th November 2009, 9:12

    You’d have to be incredibly myopic to pin the blame on anything inside F1 for the current exodus. The enormous recession in the car industry has forced the manufacturer’s hand.

    “It’s the economy, stupid.”

  2. Pingguest said on 7th November 2009, 10:48

    The FIA are not only to blame for the manufactures leaving the sport, they are also to blame for the entrance of the manufactures and therefore also to blame for the cost explosion. In the early 1990s the ultimate manufactures’ championship, the Group C, was killed of to get all the manufactures to enter Formula 1. Bernie Ecclestone made big profits and now Formula 1 is left behind.

  3. Antoine said on 7th November 2009, 10:53

    For one I’m sad to see the major manufacturers bow out but I think it has been inevitable. Collapsing global sales PLUS a gloomy forecast has placed Toyota, BMW and Renault under greater scrutiny at a board level. If Toyota and BMW had achieved greater success however I think they could have bought more time, but looking at it as investment (especially in Toyota’s case) the withdrawal makes sense. F1’s image has taken a complete battering which hasn’t helped and I can’t see how the racing
    has improved in recent years under Mosley;s reign. Cut costs? Stop changing the rules. Did we need expensive KERS technology??

  4. pitt layne said on 7th November 2009, 11:06

    The losing three had no right to absorbing an existing team. Until their powerplant can demonstrate consistent wins no brand should be allowed to buy in. The remaining three are the only ones who have shown consistent competitiveness. For fiscal protection, that should be a new rule. Ultimately, Bernie needs to get stuffed. How can one man have a lifetime lease of this series? Setting up another Formula is totally viable in this climate. By lowering the circus fee to the venue, we’d see the heritage tracks return and make a profit. As a result, the Brands would line up to participate and demonstrate. Perhaps a stock block formula would encourage the showroom competition. Every brand has at least 3.5 liters of something sitting around. If a ringmaster has no circus what does he then become?

  5. rampante said on 7th November 2009, 11:25

    Would like to point out that while Ferrari are a manufacturer in a strict legal sense they are a racing team as they always have been. They operate as an autonomous division of the Fiat group and currently produce more cars now than ever in their history. That figure is 3500 cars per year, what Toyota produce in less than an hour and BMW before lunch every day. Manufacturers wanted to use F1 to sell cars and you need success to do that. Ferrari will always sell cars the same way Bentley do, when did they last win a proper race in a real Bentley? They are still seen as one of the great sporting marques.

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

      Bentley won the 2003 Le Mans.

      I never understood how companies like Toyota and Honda sell cars though F1. Who buys a car because the brand is in F1?

      Mercedes and BMW have some spin offs from their F1 program into their road cars to sort of make it look relevant, but even then I doubt it really helps them sell cars.

      I’d say that Honda and Renault had more marketing success with selling engines to McLaren and Williams in the 90’s than they did having their own team.

    • They operate as an autonomous division of the Fiat group and currently produce more cars now than ever in their history. That figure is 3500 cars per year, what Toyota produce in less than an hour and BMW before lunch every day.

      ‘Exclusivity’ is the name of the game for the likes of Bentley and Ferrari. Limit the supply, have long waiting lists, charge extortion prices and then regardless of what happens out on the track the money will come flooding in.

      I bet Toyota and the likes wished they could do just the same.

  6. broxibear said on 7th November 2009, 14:19

    I never understood how companies like Toyota and Honda sell cars though F1. Who buys a car because the brand is in F1?

    They use the technology they develop in F1 in their road cars.
    If your company is connected with the high cutting edge technology of F1 even buyers of a Honda civic will feel they’re getting so F1 technology in their car.

  7. rampante said on 7th November 2009, 14:25

    Bentley won the 2003 Le Mans.

    Was that a proper Bentley?

  8. Ferrari are probably feeling a little bit lonely right now, and may feel that once again that the ‘garagiste’ are taking over the asylum.

    Toyota said themselves that the reason for departing was due to the economic downturn. If it had to do with anything that happened in the sport recently, then ,like Ferrari, I’m sure that Toyota would have been big enough to come out and tell it as it is, or at least as they think it is.

    I wonder just how much longer Mercedes and Renault will stick around before it becomes obvious to them that F1 ‘Isn’t where it’s at’ if you want to sell lots of road cars.

  9. Alpha said on 8th November 2009, 2:57

    can we blame Ferrari for winning too many championship in the past decade? haha

  10. They are both to blame. The FIA for conceding a veto to Ferrari, and Ferrari for using that veto to purely suite its own needs only are just one of too many reasons.

    The past few years have had me reflecting considerably what I think of as the moral and ethical demise of Ferrari who have shown themselves to be unprofessional, greedy and petulant etc. They may have a tremendous F1 history and following but I believe manufacturers are not and should not be the rulers of F1. Brawn, Red Bull, Force India prove my point exactly.

    I have lost all respect faith and trust in Ferrari and have great difficulty believing the legitimacy of all their accolades past present and future. The veto and desperately uneven distribution of F1 money, not to mention some woefully unprofessional press releases are again just three of many reasons why. I’m gob smacked that more are not verbal about Ferrari’s disgusting antics. Seems money can buy everything. Shame on you. And to think I used to be an ardent blinded or blinkered Ferrari fan (yes, shame on me too), who like many current fans just refuse to see and smell what’s right in front of their noses…

  11. Dennis said on 8th November 2009, 20:25

    I think it all has to do with the teams quitting. First there’s an economic crisis going on so car manufacturers need to save some money and quitting formula 1 is a huge save. Second Ferrari is definetly right about the FIA as well. The way they have been running things in the past few years is simply inconsistent and awfull (however the party that benefitted most from that is Ferrari). But I do think the ecomonic crisis is probably the main factor.

  12. If a manufacturer is not successful for several years then they will probably not want to stick around running at the back of the grid even with a budget cap.

    But also if a manufacturer achieves its aims this can be a grounds for them to quit the sport, the thinking being that they have done what they set out to do and so there is no reason to continue. One of the reasons I remember being put forward for why Alonso signed with McLaren when he was winning Championships with Renault was because Renault’s long term future in the sport was not guaranteed.

    Also we have seen manufacturers quit as engine suppliers while they have been at the top, such as Honda with McLaren (granted 1992 wasn’t a great season for them), or Renault with Williams in 1997.

    The recession has also played a part in manufacturers leaving, even if they could justify the cost of their F1 program in terms of advertising and R&D, there would be pressure to cut spending on something such as motorsport especially F1 with it’s glamorous and multi-million pound image.

    The FIA isn’t blameless either, it wasn’t that long ago that Mosley favoured the manufactures over the privateers, and I don’t think the way the sport has been run in recent times have helped matters either.

    Then there is Ecclestone, if the reason a manufacturer is in F1 is to sell cars, not having a Grand Prix in one of their biggest markets, North America and specifically the US, won’t help when deciding the future of their F1 team.

  13. GooddayBruce said on 9th November 2009, 13:35

    Mosley was correct in saying that costs were too high and also correct in saying that manufacturers would not stay loyal to the sport.

    However, as always with Mosley he says whatever he has to to get what he really wants. FOTA had created a strong union between the teams and was lead by the factory outfits. the were threatening Max and Bernie’s control so they tried to split them . This didn’t work and so now they have tried to eliminate them one by one. Pulling the rug out from under FOTA’s feet.

    Classic Max, and absolutely nothing to do with anything other than consolidating his position. Happily, this time it didn’t work!

  14. Angus said on 9th November 2009, 19:29

    Honda, BMW, Toyota, Mercedes and Renault/Nissan are all Global car Manufacturers and invest in F1 for Brand exposure, their Major market is the USA but there is no US Grand Prix.
    We have endured a year of politics in F1 and not much promotion of what is important to global brand manufacturers, no wonder they are leaving, they can get better exposure by investing in other forms of motor sport.

  15. I’ve always had this hunch on the real reason why manufacturer teams pull out of F1. I think they didn’t really pull out on budget problems, I mean these manufacturers are huge.
    I think that the reason they pulled out is because they’re not sure of their F1 team’s results or competitiveness, and that they prefer to wait-and-see on future developments. Maybe they’ll come back to F1?
    Once again, its just a hunch…

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