Formula 1 Insight

Where Now, Formula One?

I was reluctant to write a third Mosley post after having done two in a row but find I have to. This one will be a little different, however, as it suggests that Tuesday's confidence vote may not be all the bad news so many of us think it is. Let us say that this is the Optimism Post after all the doom and gloom of Max's Massive Moment.

Ah, Monaco...

If we sit back and think about the consequences if the vote had gone the other way, we might find that things would have been little better. Max would have held on as long as possible while an alternative president was sought and elected, so little would have changed for the rest of the year. Then, considering the FIA's past record of selecting a leader, the successor might have been just as bad but with several years ahead of him to make things worse.

Add to that the fact that the danger of a breakaway by the motoring clubs would still be present and that the conflict of interest between the FIA and the Commercial Rights Holders (CVC) would continue, we can see that very little would have changed. Mosley's continuing presidency merely hastens the onset of these problems - they would not go away if he left.

Although it is painful to see the FIA and therefore the sport going through these political struggles, it may be that they are for the good of motor racing in the end. Should there be a split between the FIA and the motoring club giants and should the F1 teams form a separate championship of their own, the FIA would be left as an ineffectual minor body on the fringe of things. But a breakaway championship would be free to organise its governmment having learned the lessons of the past and would be free of the various agreements and obligations that force the FIA to behave as it does.

It sounds too much like the Indy Car/Champ Car split for anyone to be comfortable, but lessons could be learned from that, too. Certainly it would require all but one or two of the teams to be a part of the breakaway for it to have any real chance of success. That has been achieved in the past, however, and, apart from a last minute defection by Ferrari, might well have happened then. If the FIA becomes engaged in a bout of continual political in-fighting, a breakaway F1 project would begin to look quite tempting.

Think of the way we have complained over the years at the apparent failure of the FIA to provide a stable and fair platform for the sport. The inexplicable decisions on contentious issues, the dictatorial powers granted its president, the lack of voice from anyone actually devoted to the sport, the sale of assets for apparently personal reasons, all these have contributed to a view of the governing body as a biased and corrupt organization. A new series detached from the FIA would have the chance to correct all these wrongs - to make a new start, in fact.

It is a dangerous thing to suggest. As we have seen in America, such splits and breakaways are inevitably motivated, at least to some extent, by the self interest of the parties concerned. Any such attempt in F1 would have to be very careful to avoid the pitfalls already demonstrated. But the sport faces a dangerous future anyway and a departure from the FIA might prove the only way for it to survive.

One thing is certain: F1 is at present healthy, enjoying a revival of racing after the rescinding of ill-advised rules, and financially sound. To pessimists like myself, however, its future looks grim as long as it remains bound to an organization that becomes ever more contentious and ridiculous. Teams like BMW may beg for there to be peace and for everyone to get back to racing, but that will never happen as long as the FIA retains its present leaders and structure. It is time for those who care about the sport to consider alternatives to its present government.


john f
Last year I suggested a split was needed and that F1 should have a commisioner. Like American Football and Baseball ect.. This allows the team principles to have more say in how the sport is conducting business. Unless you are Ferrari you have to follow the hurd so to speak and have no say in venues, start times even engine size. With a commisioner elected by the priciples they have the unique ability to meet say 2 - 4 times a year to discuss these exact issues. I feel that today the teams know what the fans want and expect, not the management. I agree with your assessment that this may be a good thing so that F1 can create a new governing body, one that represents all of them. They (the teams) cannot just let Max go but they need to let the FIA go and create something different and soon!!
Date Added: 04/06/2008

I think you have the right idea, John. Things just cannot continue with the FIA making the huge foul-ups it does.
Date Added: 04/06/2008

Pink Peril
I think, it was only Ferrari not willing to break away when the idea of a secession was touted last time, was it not?

Pity the other teams didn't proceed then. 'twould be a bit hard for Ferrari to run a series all by themselves - although there might be less cheating if they did so lol - and they would have to either join the others on EQUAL terms, or go play in the A1.
And I can't see that happening.

Ah, hindsight is a wonderful thing !

Date Added: 05/06/2008

Alex Andronov
I had a feeling that Max wanted a vote of confidence so he could resign "on his terms" as it were.

I don't know if this will happen. But we can dream.
Date Added: 05/06/2008

If it interests anyone, Pitpass and Autosport are reporting that LDM has asked Mosley to resign.

What's the motivation behind this call? Genuine concern for the sport? Or only for Ferrari?

Your thoughts?
Date Added: 05/06/2008

Steven Roy
Luca de Montezemolo is quoted on every news site I have been to asking Max to resign. What is that all about? I can only think he believes that all the people who voted for Max will vote for his choice of successor and Todt will be elected. He must believe that any change will be enough to save the FIA blowing itself apart.

The president of the Italian auto club (ACI) reckons Max is stronger now the before the vote but seems to be a bit confused because he ends with the comment "To count, the FIA must stay united." He voted for Max which he thinks will make him stronger but he thinks the most important thing is that all members of the FIA stay united. Looks like he is going in every direction at once.
Date Added: 05/06/2008

Yes, Peril, it was Ferrari who dropped out of the breakaway attempt and scuppered it. The FIA (and therefore F1) is still paying for that, the inducement to Ferrari to remain with the FIA having been an annual payment that no other team receives. I don't care how they justify that, it looks like bribery to me...
Date Added: 05/06/2008

Alex: I've heard this theory from a few people but it doesn't seem in Max's character. Maybe I'm wrong but it seems to me that Max is driven by a lust for power and will not let the presidency go until he is forced to. But I hope you're right - the FIA needs to get rid of him before it disintegrates.
Date Added: 05/06/2008

And so to Luca di Montezemolo. Gawd, these politicians - trying to work out what is behind their statements is a thankless task. And Luca is a consummate politician, known in Italy (the home of devious politics) as the Fox.

My guess is that Montezemolo is now fearful of the collapse of the FIA. He knows that Ferrari gains massively from its relationship with the FIA, with or without Mosley, and he wants that to continue. If the organization is threatened because of Max's continuing tenure, then Ferrari must step in to ensure its survival. And, if that means Mosley must go, so be it.

Steven's theory about Todt probably comes into it as well but it's a risky one. What if the FIA go a bit haywire and don't elect Todt? Luca would be gambling a bit there and I don't think he's a betting man - he likes certainties. So, if it's true, it would mean that Ferrari is pretty confident that it can manipulate enough delegates into voting the "correct" way.

And we know Ferrari would never stoop to such things, don't we...? :D
Date Added: 05/06/2008

john f
Clive your last comment alone is the reason that a new management team is needed. No one team should have the power that Ferrari has with the FIA. Of course LDM is making a move he is not a fool. Ferrari must never lose control of the governing body and that is what is making me aggrivated. No American team of any sport has this type of power within the organization of the governing body. Not even the Yankees have this type of pull. The era of the FIA should be over. The principles must realize this and begin to form their own league with or without Ferrari. They need to stop dragging their feet and do something.
Date Added: 05/06/2008

I agree, John. Perhaps the most aggravating thing is that all we can do is stand and watch as the powers that be get themselves into a bigger and bigger mess.
Date Added: 05/06/2008

The big question remains, what will happen next? The answer to that at the moment, all around the F1 world seems to be that even insiders have no idea at all. I, like you Clive, worry for the future of the sport that I hold so dear. When I calm myself a little, I try to remind myself that F1 has been a sport that has seemed permanently on the brink of political crisis for at least the last 30 years - from the FISA/FOCA wars of late 70s and early 80s, through to today's shenanigans. That this period of permanent apparent instability has coincided with two things - the rise of Max and Bernie, and the increasing commercialisation of the sport - is, I am quite sure, no simple coincidence. I also try to take comfort in the fact that each time there has been the threat of apparent breakdown (the most recent example being the GPWC saga), things seem to resolve themselves. There's a lot of money at stake in F1 these days, and too many people have too much invested in it to see it fail, I tell myself. Although, perhaps the only truth that can come out of this at all with any validity is that favourite saying of my grandfather - 'where there's money, there's muck'.
Date Added: 06/06/2008

There is much truth in what you say, George. And we also have to remember how old are the main players in this little drama. Regardless of what happens in the next few years, motor sport is about to see a change in lead actors. Which could be a revolution in itself.
Date Added: 06/06/2008

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