APRIL 28, 2009
Forcing the issue
The FIA will reveal its plans for 2010 and beyond later this week and the word is that the federation will try to force the issue of regulations and budget caps by moving forward the deadline for entries for the 2010 World Championship so that the F1 teams have no time to risk opposition to the new rules.
The FIA did the same thing back in March 2006 when it gave the teams one week to enter for the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship. Although there were no really credible alternative teams to the existing 11, there were 22 application for entries. Most of these were little more than flights of fancy and in the end none of them came to fruition, but the existence of these "paper tigers" created sufficient doubt to force the existing teams to act.
All of the teams have commercial contracts with the Formula One group that commit them to racing until the end of 2012 so really they have no choice but to agree to the new rules, even if the rule-making process is not in line with those laid down in the rules. Teams could opt to walk away from the sport but they would then have to settle with the Formula One group. This would probably take years and would not help the finances of the sport. There is no real desire from anyone to establish a rival World Champiopnship because the FIA owns the rights to the "Formula One World Championship" and this is what the manufacturers want to be competing for. This is also not a time for any car manufacturer to be considering getting involved in anything that is not related to their core business, which is selling cars. There is some opposition to the idea of stringent budget caps, but that does not really make sense as a new cost-effective F1 will be a good way for the car companies to show off their engineering prowess and could even become a way to make money. That is not likely to happen until the share taken out of the sport by the Formula One grpup reduces, but it is a possibility that exists.
The need for swift action is clear as there are fears that several teams will simply disappear if the spending is not controlled. Certainly none of the paper tiger teams will appear without a budget cap. The main argument being used against budget caps at the moment is that a sudden decrese in spending will damage the companies involved and thus there has been negotiation about "a glide path" which would see the budgets reduce from $80m next year to $50m in 2011 and $30m in 2012. This would give the teams the time they need to diversify and redeploy staff in other areas. This will only work for some of them as companies such as Red Bull Racing exist only to race in F1.