Ferrari has made several such criticisms in the past months but this is the most vociferous yet. It claims Lotus and Virgin “will limp into the start of the championship”, calls Stefan GP the “Serbian vultures” and leaves no-one in any doubt where Ferrari believe the blame lies:
This is the legacy of the holy war waged by the former FIA president.
Last week the team marked the 112nd anniversary of founder Enzo Ferrari’s birthday. It published a short interview with his son Piero Ferrari which was light on reminiscences about Enzo but heavy on the politics:
Q: What would he have thought about a Championship where the test sessions are concentrated in four weeks and obstructed by lots of rain?
A: He would have been completely against it. That’s for sure. […]
I completely agree with Luca di Montezemolo when he says that there should be the possibility to start a third car, which can be managed by smaller teams, or maybe even do it like we did in the 1970s, considering the stable rules, private teams often used cars from the bigger teams from the previous year. I really think that it’s absolutely possible thinking about introducing a third car, which could guarantee more suspense and lower costs.
It is clear the Ferrari and the FIA have different interpretations of what caused manufacturers to leave F1 and what the solution should be.
The FIA believes high costs drove the car manufacturers out and the remedy is to change the rules so teams with smaller budgets can compete.
Ferrari believes Mosley’s governance of F1 drove the likes of Toyota and BMW away (and Renault in all but name) and the solution is to allow teams to run more cars.
The problem with Ferrari’s ‘three car teams’ solution is it will stifle variety, make it easer for a single team to dominate the championship and make it harder for existing small teams like Williams and Force India to compete.
Allow teams to enter more than two cars and it’s not hard to see F1 gradually degenerating into a DTM equivalent with just two car makers supplying the entire field.
That scenario would be far worse for F1 than having a couple of uncertain entries at the back of the grid. And it would bring the added problem of races being spoiled by team orders which the DTM has struggled with in recent years (more on that here: Why three-car teams isn’t a great idea).
But what is most surprising is that Ferrari are happy for their point to be put across in this fashion. The hectoring style and grandiose language in the statement verges on comical at times. Perhaps something has been lost in translation.
The wording may be odd but the meaning is clear. The question now is whether Jean Todt will heed the words of his former team.
Here’s the original statement in full:
Maranello, 22nd February – Only less than three weeks to go until the ultimate form of motor sport, the Formula One World Championship, gets underway, while celebrating its sixtieth birthday this year. For many of the teams, this coming week is a crucial one, as the bell rings to signal the final lap, with the last test session getting underway in Barcelona. It is one last chance to run the cars on track, to push reliability to the limit and to try and find some performance. That’s the situation for many teams but not for all of them. Of the thirteen teams who signed up, or were induced to sign up, for this year’s Championship, to date only eleven of them have heeded the call, turning up on track, some later than others, and while some have managed just a few hundred kilometres, others have done more, but at a much reduced pace. As for the twelfth team, Campos Meta, its shareholder and management structure has been transformed, according to rumours which have reached the Horse Whisperer through the paddock telegraph, with a sudden cash injection from a munificent white knight, well used to this sort of last minute rescue deal. However, the beneficiaries of this generosity might find the knight in question expects them to fulfil the role of loyal vassal. All this means, it is hard to imagine the Dallara designed car showing its face at the Catalunya Circuit, with Sakhir a more likely venue to witness the return of the Senna name to a Formula One session.
The thirteenth team, USF1, appears to have gone into hiding in Charlotte, North Carolina, to the dismay of those like the Argentinian, Lopez, who thought he had found his way into the Formula One paddock, (albeit with help from chairwoman Kirchner, according to the rumours) and now has to start all over again. Amazingly, they still have the impudence to claim that everything is hunky-dory under the starry stripy sky.
Next, we have the Serbian vultures. Firstly, they launched themselves into a quixotic legal battle with the FIA, then they picked the bones of Toyota on its death bed. Having got some people on board, around whom there was still a whiff of past scandals, they are now hovering around waiting to replace whoever is first to drop out of the game, possibly with backing from that very same knight in shining armour whom we mentioned earlier.
This is the legacy of the holy war waged by the former FIA president. The cause in question was to allow smaller teams to get into Formula One. This is the outcome: two teams will limp into the start of the championship, a third is being pushed into the ring by an invisible hand – you can be sure it is not the hand of Adam Smith – and, as for the fourth, well, you would do better to call on Missing Persons to locate it. In the meantime, we have lost two constructors along the way, in the shape of BMW and Toyota, while at Renault, there’s not much left other than the name. Was it all worth it?
Do you think he should? Is replacing car manufacturers with the likes of Virgin Racing really such a bad thing for F1? Have your say in the comments.
Read more: Why three-car teams isn’t a great idea