Formula 1 Insight

The F1 Teams United

The meeting of the teams to discuss future regulations for F1 has resulted in the formation of a Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) to represent their interests. The idea is that FOTA (shades of FOCA) will work with the FIA and FOM to decide how the sport will change to keep up with modern conditions.

Podium interview

Over at BlogF1, Ollie feels that this may be one level of complication too many but I am not so sure. In the past the FIA has been responsible for the regulations, subject only to the terms of the Concorde Agreement, while FOM has handled the financial side. This has led to some pretty bad rules being instituted at times and suspicions of underhand financial deals at others. Now that there is no current Concorde Agreement, the FIA has the only say upon the direction of F1 and those most affected, the teams, are ignored.

So I see the formation of FOTA as a step in the right direction. It remains to be seen, of course, just how much notice the FIA and FOM will take of its suggestions, particularly if it proves impossible to achieve another Concorde Agreement. But it has to be tried or the teams remain out in the cold.

What the decision does illustrate is a new climate of solidarity amongst the teams. The formation of the association was apparently a unanimous decision, an event remarkable enough of itself. Previously, it has proved almost impossible to achieve such agreement, there being always two or three teams that distance themselves from the majority. The very fact that all the teams now feel the need to be united shows that there is general discontent with the way things have been going.

I suspect that this is the result of the way in which Max Mosley has been quite happy to continue without a Concorde Agreement, since he now feels freed from the restrictions it placed upon his regulatory powers. In seeking to improve his image by asking the teams for their opinions, Mosley may well have begun a process that ends with the participants in the sport having a good deal more say than ever before. It certainly looks as though the teams are determined to be heard in the future and FOTA will be their voice from now on.

That is much more than Mosley was expecting, I'm sure. He wanted some sort of list of technical suggestions that he could then pick apart and amend to suit his own ends; he has done this often enough in the past. But with FOTA looking over his shoulder, it will not be so easy for him to push through regulations that fit only with his strange vision of a green F1. Perhaps we will see fewer unworkable and self-defeating rules introduced from now on.

That is my hope, at least. And, beyond that, there is the thought that an association such as FOTA is only as powerful as it is prepared to go. If there is to be a split away from the FIA, the formation of a new and united association could well be fertile ground in which such a seed could grow...


Peter Boyle
Yup. The most encouraging side effect of moseley-gate
is that it has instilled the beginnings of collective action by the

Started with a flurry of censuring press statements, now
FOTA. Bring it on.

Bernie & CVC beware! I smell redistribution of wealth coming.

Date Added: 30/07/2008

And I smell re-organisation, Peter!
Date Added: 30/07/2008

Steven Roy
I have posted a comment at every site that I have been to that carries this story asking what the difference between the new FOTA and FOCA is. Unsurprinsingly no-one has even attempted to answer it. As far as I can see they are identical. So why create a new association? I have decided since no-one can give me any kind of answer I should do the only sensible thing and take a wild guess. So here goes.

FOCA has signed numerous legal documents with the FIA with all the usual legal riders etc and FOTA has not. Therefore if you wanted to set up a rival championship and use the term formula one as a hook for sponsors, TV, fans etc you could set up a Formula One Teams Association championship but you could probably not set up a Formula One Constructors Association championship because all the legal riders somewhere along the line will say that the FIA is the sole owner of the term formula one and various similar statements.
Date Added: 30/07/2008

Anything that gives the teams more input and decision making influence gets my full support. Now, how are Max and Bernie going to react? I suppose we'll find out in the near future.
Date Added: 30/07/2008

Boy Beorge
This is a great post, very informative lots of insight into the situation. We will see what actually changes as far as driver input.

Date Added: 30/07/2008

This has disturbing similarities to Indy 20 years ago. If the FOTA decided to break-away, where would they race? Don't the current tracks have contracts they must honor? And who would sanction the championship? A threat is not effective if it is a hollow one.
Date Added: 30/07/2008

Peter Boyle

Max is indeed mad Max, more specifically paranoid. I think he suspects RD. But who knows.
Date Added: 30/07/2008

Alianora La Canta
FOCA became controlled by Bernie, which is only good if you want your future to be dictated by CVC's wallet. I suspect the teams want more than this, which would explain why they've made a new organisation.

Though it does neatly sidestep the legal obligations the teams may have with the FIA. Even then, the FIA only owns the term "Formula 1 World Championship", with all significant shortened versions of that used for non-motorsport purposes and therefore not ultimately trademarkable - as Bernie has already discovered.

Still, I don't see a breaway in FOTA's immediate future. It must get used to its potential power before exerting it, and the team bosses are fairly conservative people.
Date Added: 30/07/2008

Steven: I see one significant difference between the old FOCA and the new association: FOTA seems to have the backing of all the teams, whereas FOCA was more of an alliance of the British/Cosworth teams fighting a rearguard action against the might of the FIA and turbo teams. That may not have been FOCA's original intention but it was what happened to it in the end.

As we know from experience, these pressure groups formed by the teams to put forward their point of view are usually ineffective because Ferrari is the inevitable dissenter. This time, however, it looks as though even the red team are in agreement that something must be done to curb Max's power.
Date Added: 30/07/2008

Lonny: We need to remember that I am just speculating on the possible outcome of the formation of an association to represent the teams. As far as I'm aware, I am the only one to have suggested that this brings a split in F1 any closer. So, even if it does have that effect, it will be a long time before we see it happen - FOTA will try to change things by negotiation first.

As to the practicalities of circuit contracts and so on, the CART split becomes quite relevant. Circuits have contracts with the FIA so a new organization would have no obligation to race on those tracks - but a decent calendar of races elsewhere could be arranged, I think.
Date Added: 30/07/2008

Alianora: Agreed that the team owners are a very conservative bunch! But they seem to be pretty united and determined this time and we can thank Max for that. His antics and posturing have finally stirred the beast!
Date Added: 30/07/2008

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