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FOTA : How long will the love-in last?

Formula One
by Lord_Hesketh (U5993042) 30 January 2009
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As the teams cosy together to decide the rules of F1 based on "market research" I was wondering how long this situation will last?

All the current F1 teams are in the sport to try and win. Presumably when they meet each team has an agenda based in it's individual strengths and how they can best direct the rules to their advantage. Surely such competitive demands will ultimately result in this whole thing falling apart as the teams eventually suss out exactly why Ferrari and McLaren want certain things.

For example, the ban in in-season testing is to the detriment of the smaller teams who do not have the same quality of wind tunnels, CFD and simulation systems and who have relied, to an extent, on putting the part onto the car and watching the lap times. This is the same for the drivers. The reports regarding McLaren's driving simulator are that it is about as close to driving an F1 car without actually driving it, I can't imagine Force India have the same set up, although their new arrangement with McLaren might allow them access.

The other major problem for FOTA is Bernie Ecclestone. He has already admitted to paying Ferrari more than any other team to keep them sweet. I would presume a “player" such as Bernie would realise he needs to keep the teams at loggerheads otherwise his influence and control over F1 will start to crumble.

Anyone agree, disagree, have any comments?

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posted Jan 30, 2009

I've been trying to think of what to write here, without going on. In short I'm not so sure FOTA have that much power, unity maybe but even that seemed under threat judging by Flav's assault on Mario over BMW not joining in the call to suspend the intro of KERS. And indeed up to now FOTA haven't defied FIA and one could wonder if they've done anything that FIA didn't mind, or want them to?(apologies if I'm forgetting something obvious) I'm not sure either Max or Bernie feel overly threatened quite yet, though the latter seems to be showing signs of restlessness.

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comment by OldBoy (U1666976)

posted Jan 30, 2009

I am not sure that there is much to add to Auto's comments above - although of course I will anyway. How much unity there is in FOTA is not wholly clear. The current rapprochement between McLaren and Ferrari is a good thing and might lead to a healthier atmosphere within the sport and could avoid a further 2007 type conflict. However the way it is being trailed in the press makes it hard to judge how much of it is real and how much for political effect.

How much genuine power and influence does FOTA hold. Its much praised agreement of the technical regulations does seem to have delivered most of what the FIA were seeking. The impression of FOTA influence is more a feature of the current differences between aims of the FIA and of the Commercial Rights Holder who seem to be much less aligned than in the past - although whether this is real or apparent is still open to debate.

The big issue now is the next Concorde agreement. That will test the unity of the teams far more than the technical rules as Bernie has far more opportunity to divide and conquer. My own belief is that they will stick together to win a bigger share of F1 revenue but that then FOTA will become less and less significant again.

I also question what they can genuinely do. People throw around comments about a breakaway series but the viability of such an expensive option in the current economic situation looks low. It is a more potent threat to Bernie, who could be left holding very devalued commercial rights if the key players all leave, than to the FIA who have already said they could accommodate additional series and have pointed out that F1 is much more important to Bernie and the teams (for whom it is their main activity) than for the FIA (for whom it is a part of a much larger portfolio of responsibilities).

I guess we watch to see how it plays out, trying as ever to understand how much is smoke and mirrors. Just now the question must be who will blink first - Bernie or FOTA. Or is it all just a gameplan to finesse a new commercial rights deal out of what is increasingly looking like the wreckage of the current one?

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comment by Red_5 (U1579027)

posted Jan 30, 2009

With both Mclaren and Ferrari united the FIA will find it much harder if they try pushing through any chances Mclaren/Ferrari dont like or want.

F1 without these 2 teams is simply not F1, and I think its right that the teams should get a better slice of the bernie cake.

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posted Jan 30, 2009

Formula One needs to change if the sport is the sport is to remain credible and survive. Formula One needs to be regulated by a credible governing body who's main concern is fairness and impartiality and not financial gain. Bernie and Max needs to go.

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posted Jan 30, 2009

I think what we are actually seeing is the first steps in the coup d'etat which will remove Max and Bernie. Ron D taking a back seat in F1? Luca touring the Woking facility? Remember that in days gone by, Max and Bernie were both just team owners.

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posted Jan 31, 2009

I agree that maybe this is the first steps to replace Bernie, also Max has soon to be re-elected anyway doesn´t he ?. Both Ron and Luca have the necessary experience in the F1 world, but can they ever be impartial and do what is best for F1 ?. But surely if each team has exactly the same voting power, allowing for Eastern Block type "song for Europe voting", then things may work out.
Close co-operation between a major player and a lesser team may be a way of getting an extra vote ?. Perhaps instead of a simple majority decision by vote it would have to be, say 80% in favour of any changes to rules etc.
Perhaps it may be possible for the richer teams to make wind tunnel testing, and similar, available to the lesser teams.
But whatever, the teams with the biggest wallets will mostly be the ones at the front.
(I may revise the last comment thinking about Honda and Toyota !.)
I hope that F1 does have some changes to encourage more teams and closer racing. World Superbike racing is much more exciting at the moment, perhaps more TV time for that and a little less exposure for F1 may be beneficial ?
We have had a Briton as World Champion in WSB twice in the last few years !!

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comment by trcr (U1340522)

posted Feb 2, 2009

Think everyone is missing one major point and that is the cut that ferrari get of 'bernies cake'. I always thought this was unfair in their favour until the recent withdrawal of Honda - not the 1st time they've upped-sticks and quit f1 - which made me realise why Ferrari get the biggest slice, because they've been in it the longest. However, I was then appallled to hear Bernie gets 50% of everything and seemingly pretty much decides for himself where races will/won't be run. Can't believe teams don't get a say in that at all. They're the ones ploughing the money in, surely it should be up to them where they race, especially considering how important the US market is/was to the car industry.Similarly I'm bemused as to why Max is the one trying to instigate the cost cutting. Again surely the teams should lead on this? Andunlike everyone else I think this is going to play into the bigger teams hands.

Previously MacLaren and Ferrari/Toyota/Honda spent millions on new technologies, which smaller teams could them pick up on and implement themselves. Now they're just going to redefine what they spend their money on, and it's going to be the secret stuff that other teams don't have access to, so widening their advantage.

And if they're trying to cut costs, why then insist on introducing a new KERS System, which everyone but the bigger teams - such as BMW who already were running it in sports car series etc. - don't want. Systems such as these are never going to take off commercially its just a front F1 can hide behind as trying to be 'environmentally friendly'.

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posted Feb 2, 2009

Redmonkey, I think part of the reason Ferrari get a bigger slice of the cake is simply because F1 needs Ferrari more than any other team. Ferrari is what draws the "nominal" fan to F1 because it is such a legendary marque. In this respect I agree with Bernie’s thinking, Ferrari need F1 but F1 needs Ferrari.

In terms of sharing out the cake, I'm not sure what Bernie does with his 50% but I bet he could justify it. I'm not saying it is right but FOM do spend a lot of money on F1 it’s not simply profit.

On the race locations, you have to consider the economic argument both in relation to where the car companies want to sell cars and how much money they want to take from the sport. F1 has moved to far flung locations simply to keep pace with the ever increasing monetary demands of the teams. If they were to reduce these demands FOM could consider moving races to locations which cannot pay as much as, say, Bahrain and Singapore. In short, there is basic dichotomy in the F1 team’s requirements.

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comment by MCCFR (U1563046)

posted Feb 4, 2009

"Remember that in days gone by, Max and Bernie were both just team owners."

You could just about call Brabham a team, although it often made some pretty strange decisions.

But March were a car rental operation. All you had to was turn up with enough dosh and Max and Robin would do you a nice deal on a 761 or whatever.

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comment by pmstar (U13691997)

posted Feb 14, 2009

I think this will last until the 2 big teams win and never again they will unite. You will see give it a couple of months.

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