This week in F1 has mostly been about the FIA’s diarrhoea of the press release. Rather than looking for a compromise, they have instead gone on the attack, launching press release after press release and slamming the door shut on Fota’s suggestions (oh, and saying goodbye to Lola — good work, Max!)
This week the ACEA, the European Car Manufacturers’ Association, came out to say that the “current governance of the sport can’t continue”. The FIA’s retort was predictably arrogant and bitter. One thing that particularly interested me was this irrelevant paragraph at the end:
The FIA understands that Porsche did not support ACEA’s Formula One resolution and has instructed the ACEA secretariat to make this clear in response to any press enquiries.
Grasping at straws, this was the one thing the FIA found to attack the ACEA with (and how typical it is of Max to go on the attack with a straw man like this rather than methodically argue their case — probably because their case is filled with holes). It’s odd that they should find the view of Porsche within the ACEA so important. This is a manufacturer which was last involved in F1 way back in 1991, and not very successfully either. They have shown very little interest in returning to F1.
Indeed, a certain revelation last year put paid to any slim chance that Porsche might enter F1 while Max Mosley is in charge. Wolfgang Porsche said last year: “After the affair with Max Mosley and the women it would not be very savoury to get involved (in Formula One) now.”
Funny how Max Mosley didn’t pay so much attention to Porsche’s views then, isn’t it?
It strikes me as odd that Mosley should bang on and on about how the current recession means that the manufacturers must be told how much they will be able to spend. Somehow I think the ACEA is in a much better position to know where than manufacturers stand.
Yesterday, the FIA released to the media a further exchange of letters between the FIA and Fota. Presumably this is again supposed to show Fota in a bad light. But Fota’s letter is conciliatory in tone and the content clearly seeks a compromise. Fota propose solutions in four key areas. Max Mosley’s response? Four doors slammed shut.
On governance, Mosley wants the teams to agree to extend an 11-year-old Concorde Agreement and from that point negotiate forwards. This would involve the teams placing a huge amount of trust in the FIA, and the FIA have shown themselves to be a distinctly untrustworthy organisation. Slam.
On resource restriction, the FIA still contends that “a fundamental problem with the Fota proposal was the absence of a clear figure”. In other words, unless the budget cap is on the table, the FIA will not discuss it. Slam.
On the two-tier system, the FIA confirms that even though it says there will be no two-tier system in F1 next season, the technical regulations will still in fact be rigged in favour of teams running the Cosworth engine which will not have a limit on its performance, as all other engines do. Slam.
Bye-bye compromise. And it’s all thanks to Max Mosley. The letter looks as though it was formulated in order to tweak the teams’ tails. It leaves F1 facing the serious prospect of a breakaway.
It pains me to say it, but I am beginning to find the idea of a breakaway very appealing. By the FIA’s own admission, next year’s budget capped cars will not perform to F1 standard. All of the top teams in F1 currently do not stand on the FIA’s side, and the most promising of the new teams were not given a slot on the entry list last week. As things stand, the FIA Championship will have no teams of a high pedigree.
As for drivers, as things stand the FIA Championship will have no Champions on the grid. Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa and Mark Webber have all spoken out against the FIA’s budget cap proposals, lamenting the fact that it would bring to an end the notion of F1 being the pinnacle of motorsport. All three drivers would sooner drive in a breakaway series than drive in a budget capped series.
I prefer to race in any other category before in the new F1. A model similar to GP2 or F3 is not interesting for any driver, for any sponsor or for any circuit or television network. In that case it would be a category without any sense.
…we need to look seriously at what is the best option: as the teams appear to be united, then maybe it is time to look at doing something different that could be better for the sport.
Collectively everyone has played a role in trying to help and protect the sport and you just see all that effort down the years being devalued or diluted through some pretty radical ideas.
It’s good to have some stability, to be able to predict what’s going to happen, not have different things going on every six months.
All the drivers share the same view. We want to drive for the best teams and race against the best drivers. If it’s not the FIA Formula 1 world championship, so be it. It’ll still be the most prestigious championship.
Mark Webber’s opinion is particularly useful to pay attention to, as he the most senior member of the GPDA, the F1 drivers’ union, to have a race seat. He therefore has an intimate knowledge of what the drivers are thinking, and he has pointed out that “All the drivers have the same view.”
I sense that there are a few journalists who have taken the FIA’s side. However, it is well known that journalists who speak out against the FIA sometimes find themselves having “problems”. After The Sunday Times received a writ for libel from Max Mosley following a column written by Martin Brundle, he had this to say:
I’m tired of what I perceive as the “spin” and tactics of the FIA press office, as are many other journalists. I expect my accreditation pass for next year will be hindered in some way to make my coverage of F1 more difficult and to punish me. Or they will write to ITV again to say that my commentary is not up to standard despite my unprecedented six Royal Television Society Awards for sports broadcasting.
The FIA vets journalists, so they must be seen as another F1 institution that is inherently biased towards the FIA’s point of view. In that sense, it is amazing that a few journalists have decided to speak out. See, for instance, Richard Williams (who I believe does not attend grands prix anyway as Maurice Hamilton is The Guardian’s main F1 correspondent) and Ed Gorman.
Unless the unthinkable happens and Max Mosley capitulates, we as fans (who have been given no say by the FIA, unlike Fota who have conducted proper market research) will have to endure his rotten vision of F1 anyway. At least with a breakaway we will have a choice.
What do we want? Max Mosley’s dungeon dictatorship which, like all dictatorships, will run his playthings into the ground? Or the best drivers racing the best cars at the best circuits? It’s surely a simple decision.