Teams need FOTA with “crisis around the corner”

2014 F1 season

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F1 teams will come to regret the absence of the Formula One Teams’ Association, which was disbanded at the end of last month, according to its former secretary general.

Oliver Weingarten told Isportconnecttv in an interview: “I think there is a genuine need for the teams to work together in this environment because they are very easily picked off and communicating collectively is in their benefit.”

“There is no doubt a crisis around the corner whether it is on a commercial side, whether it’s on the track or whether it’s in the governance area.”

FOTA continued for two seasons following the departure of two top teams in December 2011. “I had a significantly reduced budget which had been forecast due to the resignation of Ferrari, Red Bull and the sister team to Red Bull [Toro Rosso] and the engine customer from Ferrari [Sauber],” said Weingarten. “But the positives were until March 2014 we managed to continue with FOTA.”

2011 FOTA Fans Forum MonzaWeingarten was three months into his tenure as FOTA secretary general when the departures happened. “When I joined they were in the middle of heated debate and discussion about cost control.”

“And I think there was a lot of procrastination on behalf of my former chairman [Martin Whitmarsh] that may have antagonised some of the other members. I couldn’t do anything about that – as I say I joined, that was all going on and that very quickly came to a head – and thereafter the teams resigned and went off and did their commercial bilaterals with the commercial rights holder.”

“There’s no point in denying that Red Bull and Ferrari leaving FOTA didn’t significantly impact upon it,” he added. “And people in the paddock may have perceived that FOTA wasn’t as relevant as it was when it was originally set up.”

“But actually FOTA continued to conduct a number of activities not just on behalf of its members but on behalf of all the teams including those who had recently resigned.

“Whether that was auditing the Resource Restriction Agreement submissions, conducting a carbon emissions sustainability report across Formula One, doing fan forums and events, and a large amount of fan engagement in which teams who resigned still participated, and even the circuits agreements for all the teams to go testing was conducted by FOTA. And actually more recently the Pirelli agreement addendum and tyre blanket branding was done by FOTA once again.”

Weingarten said it was “an achievement in itself” to sustain FOTA for a further two years after Red Bull and Ferrari left.

“People in the paddock used to say to me ‘I’m surprised you’re still around’. But actually I had a former chairman, Martin Whitmarsh, who used to be at McLaren, who was a very strong ally of FOTA. And he managed to persuade a lot of the teams, along with myself, that actually there were good reasons for the team to work together.

“They needed a forum around which they could coalesce, in which they could discuss issues without the commercial rights holder or the FIA being present. And also if FOTA wasn’t around – and there’s a big question mark now – who will do the fan engagement? Who will be the single point of contact to deal with the promoters to help them in respect of sales of their tickets or getting show cars to promote their grands prix? Who will look, on behalf of the teams, at the costs being imposed upon them annually across the world at each grand prix?

“So I think the teams recognised that there’s definitely a role for FOTA and that’s why the remaining teams stayed in it.”

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16 comments on Teams need FOTA with “crisis around the corner”

  1. Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 21st March 2014, 11:35

    I believe this fuel-flow debacle would not have happened had Ferrari and Red Bull not been so self-centered.

    It’s just a shame that these pinnacles of their field are so easily (and continuously) bribed by a vile leprechaun with deep pockets.

    • HiPn0tIc (@hipn0tic) said on 21st March 2014, 11:50

      Of course it would. Motor sport for me is to be the fastest in a GP not saving anything to achieve you’re goals. This fuel law is one more absurd law from FIA, motor sport and the F1 is dying like this, this is not true competitions is a distorted “competition”…take for example WRC…

      • Hamilfan (@hamilfan) said on 21st March 2014, 12:01

        @hipn0ti They should have thought about this when they sat down to do the formula . I think the problem is Bernie . He wants unpredictability and hence wants to make absurd things and put them at all at once to so called ‘spice up’ the racing .

        Since they have dissolved FOTA , the teams don’t have any power against Bernie to protest his whims.
        @optimaximal vile leprechaun ? He is the mighty Emperor . Join the dark side or perish ;-)

      • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 21st March 2014, 12:52

        @HiPn0tIc what? Are you saying that it wasn’t a distorted competition *before* the fuel-flow argument?

        The problem was Red Bull & Ferrari torpedoed FOTA for their own machinations – one to get more money and retain a vaunted’ veto over the sport, the other to gain/sustain a performance advantage.

        If they had put that to one side, ignored the CRH and stayed united, they could have pushed through for a better formula that maintained the fuel-flow spec* but bashed the rules out properly, something that never works whilst they’re bickering. Also, were FOTA together, you wouldn’t see the Mercedes or Ferrari teams hammering on about supporting the FIAs decision because it benefits their engines more.

        * – it’s a good rule, as a more efficient engine is a better engine. FACT.

        • HiPn0tIc (@hipn0tic) said on 21st March 2014, 21:45

          @optimaximal No, i’m saying that even with Ferrari and RBR dominating under these rules, for me this is absurd, like Kers rule, like tyre rules, like pirelli beeing the only tyre suplier, like the “tyre” gate, like so many rules.
          Yes seeing from that angle yes, but motorsport it’s not engine and i’m sorry motorsport it’s not enviroment friendly…
          The car’s and the engines, for me, are expected to be louder and to be the quickest, not the quickest under spending fuel rules, not that, quickest.

          If they’ve got toghether, yes they would have better chances, but the authorithy here is FIA, take for example Ferrari, if they from one momment to another “decide” to drope out from F1, i’m certain that FIA loses more than anyone else for example.
          Making rules to try and make a manufacturer to enther the circus and to try and end to an era for me that’s monopolizing the situation…(regardless who’s manufacturer or team)

      • JoeP said on 22nd March 2014, 2:20

        @HiPn0tIc w – do you NOT realize that the teams are intimately involved in the process that leads to the implementation of new rules?

        While it’s true that there’s no longer a Concorde Agreement and the teams have successfully been disunited (kinda the point of this article), they STILL contributed to this new version of Formula One. It’s not a mandate from “on high” by FIA, and certainly not b/c they (FIA) or anyone else wants to destroy your particular rose-colored F1 world…

  2. OneBHK (@onebhk) said on 21st March 2014, 11:43

    is this FOTA is at COTA

  3. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 21st March 2014, 11:47

    And I think there was a lot of procrastination on behalf of my former chairman [Martin Whitmarsh] that may have antagonised some of the other members.

    Possibly another reason why MW has disappeared off the face of the planet?

    • OOliver said on 21st March 2014, 13:36

      FOTA was one of Withmarsh’s failings. He made positive noises about it, but abandoned the association to go do a separate deal with Bernie.
      Regarding, “Procrastination”, of what you is making fine speeches yet doing nothing afterwards.

  4. maxthecat said on 21st March 2014, 11:49

    Whitmarsh was the driving force behind FOTA, his demise was bound to lead to this. Thing is, you can’t have a FOTA group with Ferrari in it, they get more money and a bigger share of the rights and a lot of teams resent them for it.

  5. HoHum (@hohum) said on 21st March 2014, 14:36

    United we stand, divided we fall.

  6. TMF (@tmf42) said on 21st March 2014, 17:18

    The FOTA should have continued as the F1 team union to negotiate the terms of the concord agreement – adding budget control to their agenda was it’s ultimate error, you can’t tell the guys at Ferrari how they spend their money but you could make sure that everyone gets their fair share to be competitive.

    • JoeP said on 22nd March 2014, 2:22

      What Concorde Agreement?

      Unless the EU Competition Committee is requested (And agrees) to hear a case, FOM/FOG has succeeded in dispensing w/ semi-unified pseudo-transparent bloc-negotiated governance/administration of F1 in conjunction w/ all of the teams and the FIA.

  7. rsp123 (@rsp123) said on 21st March 2014, 20:39

    How silly will F1 look when the only teams that are both financially and competitively viable (in any sense) are Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren?

    And if some deal is worked out so that a few minnow teams can tag along at the back, the claim to be a serious “sport” will look no less risible.

    I think Red Bull and Ferrari are somewhat cowardly – they would rather F1 be reduced to a complete sham than risk losing their positions.

    So a crisis is perhaps the best thing for F1. Things cannot stay the same. A bullet-proof cost-reduction program is essential.

    • JoeP said on 22nd March 2014, 2:23

      Bernie and CVC don’t care, as long as the remaining teams run 3 cars each, and they can continue extracting the remaining wealth from the sport before leaving it picked dry like a carcass.

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