Formula 1 Insight

If The Cap Fits...

Max Mosley has given an interview to the BBC in which he answers questions regarding his recent meeting with FOTA over the rule changes slated for 2010. Many have picked up on the fact that Max calls Toyota's John Howett "childish" at one point but that is the kind of thing we have come to expect from him and hardly worth a comment. There are more interesting matters in the interview anyway.

Anderson and Windsor
Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor

Apparently, the issue of a two-tier F1, ostensibly the cause of the FIA/FOTA disagreement, has been set aside already. Mosley states that the idea of giving cost capped teams more technical freedom was to help new teams to be reasonably competitive; with some existing teams opting for the cap, however, the need for a technical differentiation falls away - it would be handing a huge advantage to teams like Brawn and Williams.

This amounts to a retreat by the FIA, evidence that Max is beginning to realize that he has pushed the teams too far this time. The excuse of allowing new teams to be competitive is an invention intended to hide the climb-down. Before the meeting the reason given for a two-tier formula was to allow the big teams to continue to spend as much as they liked; which ignores the fact that FOTA is interested in cutting costs but objects to the arbitrary figure of £40 million being imposed.

And that is the sticking point as far as Max is concerned - he will not be moved on the amount of the cap. To support his position, he cites the number of teams lining up for entry to F1 now that the budget cap seems inevitable; he fears that such teams will drift away if the cap is fixed any higher. But the reality is that there are only two serious candidates so far, USF1 and Lola, and both of these decided on entry without the rules being written in stone.

USF1 announced their F1 entry long before the budget cap was mentioned, as is clear from an interview they gave to the F1 website recently. Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson made their decision because costs in the sport were already coming down as a result of FOTA's cost cutting exercises for 2009. They were looking then at a budget of about £100 million so an increase of the imposed cap beyond £40 million is not going to worry them.

Lola has made a commitment to enter the sport while the furore over the cap remains unsettled. They cannot expect that the cap will remain as Max wants, therefore, but have decided to enter anyway; which means they have taken into account the possibility of the figure being increased substantially.

The other wannabes are waiting for a result before committing themselves - thereby indicating that they are marginal on financial ability to run a team in F1. Whilst it is good that new teams enter the sport, F1 hardly needs a repeat of the farcical attempts by underfunded teams that it has seen in the past. So the argument that the new teams prevent any increase in the cap suggests that F1 would remain viable with the few existing independent teams and a horde of new ones. I doubt that Bernie Ecclestone relishes that thought.

Max's confidence relies heavily on the belief that the manufacturer teams will give up the fight eventually and submit their entries for 2010. Ferrari is cited as the the sole potential loss to the sport and it is true that they are the most determined to see a change in the government of F1. But Toyota too has had enough and is quite likely to leave at the end of this year, regardless of what happens politically. The others appear happy to follow Ferrari's lead for the moment.

While Max may think that the issue is the budget cap, it is much more that the teams are fed up with his dictatorial style and want to be rid of him. That is the reason for Ferrari's application for an injunction on the FIA and the result of that court case may well decide how everything else pans out.

If the injunction is granted, all the proposed rule changes become void and the FIA will have to consult with the teams on any changes to be made. At which point, any reasonable president of an organization would resign, his authority undermined and leadership questioned. But Max has shown that he does not give up easily and the war would continue until no rule changes for next year are possible.

We live in interesting times.


Nick Goodspeed
Ferrari are fighting hardest because they are the most spoiled and have the most to lose. They are used to being given money just for claiming to be more prestigious than the rest. What they want is status quo, with all the acquired rights they've received from stabbing the rest of the teams in the back. I'm sure the other teams are quite happy to let Ferrari be the ones to give the FIA an ultimatum and wouldn't feel particularly bad if they were penalized for such actions.
I doubt if there will ever be a happy compromise as long as Mosley and / or Ecclestone are about. One is after all the power, the other all the money. If Mosley was in the least bit serious about the future of F1 he would have been reigning in Ecclestones parasitic greed instead of trying to tell multinational auto makers what there allowance is.
Date Added: 17/05/2009

I'm quite sure you're right that this sort of thing will continue as long as Max and Bernie are in charge. That is why I support Ferrari in its actions, even though it was an underhand business that gave them their rights in the first place. If it takes a court case to clarify the actual position of the FIA, then so be it.
Date Added: 17/05/2009

If the French courts move as glacially as American courts, we should get a decision in time for the 2011 season! I too hope the teams can continue to present a united front. Perhaps they have finally realized who really has the power. I am rather surprised Bernie hasn't weighed in more forcefully, he certainly has the most to lose.
Date Added: 17/05/2009

Hopefully, it being contract law rather than a criminal case, this will be dealt with more quickly, Lonny. Not that I know anything about how the French court functions, however.

I think Bernie was probably hoping to talk Luca out of it, Lonny, but was left high and dry because Luca could not turn up for the meeting. Bernie's chance will come, no doubt.
Date Added: 17/05/2009

Nick, there isn't any doubt that Ferrari has been treated differently than the other teams, but as such they have the most reason to fight the FIA on these issues. I can't remember where I read it, but I believe one of the sticking points is the fact that the FIA is not honoring its agreements with Ferrari, one of which is a veto power Ferrari has regarding the implementation of new regulations.

At this point the 'fairness' of such an agreement is irrelevant if it can serve to undo the current power structure at the FIA. If Ferrari is successful in this battle (and I support them along with Clive), we can only hope that the new power structure will have a transparency that mitigates such favoritism.

I can almost hear your sigh as I write this: I realize Ferrari won't be fighting for a more equal playing field, but anything is better than Max and what is happening now.
Date Added: 17/05/2009

I hope they sort this out. Having teams lining up to enter F1 is not quite the same as having racing teams line up...and even then it's a crap shoot no matter how much cash (ie Toyota, Honda, Ferrari in the losing years... and on and on) you throw at it. It might be rather interesting at first to see teams coming out of nowhere but, they would probably go no where as well and so far, even back markers have for the most part been committed F1 passionates. I just cringe at the thought of some one, some group, anyone, saying "hey, 40 prob. Let's go play in F1 for a bit" . I think there is definitely a lot of potential to damaging the series even further.
Date Added: 17/05/2009

Marc: Spot on!
Date Added: 17/05/2009

Vera: Good point. Surely the best solution would make it easier for genuine new teams to enter while not driving away those already involved. It's called finding a happy medium, I'm told.
Date Added: 17/05/2009

Mr Soap
Pretty much agree with everything that's said. And I find myself in the most unusual position of hoping Ferrari win.

Although I hope it doesn't result in the scrapping of the refuelling ban, if all 2010 changes are brought under scrutiny.
Date Added: 17/05/2009

It's unusual for me to supporting Ferrari too, Mr Soap! But I will say that I have always had respect for Luca as a politician.

I don't think we have to worry about the end of the refuelling ban - it was always the teams that wanted it and Max finally gave in when it was pointed out to him how much money was spent on the equipment etc.
Date Added: 17/05/2009

I really hope that the teams all realise that they have to stick together at all costs on this issue. Max and Bernie are experts at driving wedges between them and taking advantage of their weekened prey. If the teams stick together they will bring down Max and Bernie, if they do not then F1 will be the looser. It is a very strange feeling, siding with ferrari for once. I hope I do not have to do it again ;-)
Date Added: 18/05/2009


Hey, we have to win something this year! Might as well be Max.......
Date Added: 18/05/2009

Lee: I have been impressed with how the teams have held together so far. It looks as though this time they're wise to Max & Bernie's tricks.

Go Luca!
Date Added: 18/05/2009

Aracer: Hah, yeah, we're all on the same side this time. Forza Minar... I mean Ferrari!
Date Added: 18/05/2009

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