Honda F1 website

APRIL 9, 2004

A storm is brewing in F1

Eagle-eyed observers in Bahrain noticed that on Saturday morning a number of the team bosses met with Bernie Ecclestone. The important point is that not all of the team bosses were involved. What was said at that meeting was obviously not going to be divulged with those involved saying only that it had been an update on the GPWC situation. We believe it was rather more than that. And that the non-GPWC teams are now getting ready to make a move to try to break the deadlock that exists in Formula 1 decision-making structure at the moment.

The teams involved in the meeting were BAR, Jordan, Minardi, Sauber and Toyota. Also present was Renault boss Flavio Briatore but it is not clear in what capacity he attended the meeting. The teams have all now managed to get their hands on copies of the Memorandum of Understanding agreed between the GPWC and the Formula One group and the smaller teams are very unhappy that the provisions in the deal take care of the big teams but do not give the smaller operations much more than they are getting already.

Things have not been helped by the fact that several of the big teams (believed to be McLaren, Ferrari and Williams) have entered into some kind of arrangement which commits them not to become involved in any new series in the future which does not involve the manufacturers.

The teams therefore are divided and, in the finest tradition, will probably end up being conquered because they have little power unless they can agree to operate together. This was seen in the FISA-FOCA war back in 1980-1982 when the teams and the international automobile federation battled for control of the commercial rights of the sport. The situation is now much more complicated than before because there are more parties involved. Back in 1980 there were the F1 teams fighting the FIA, which had the support of the big manufacturer teams; now there are a lot more groups involved the commercial right holder is not one but two groups, seemingly at odds with one another. The manufacturers have joined together but are not supported by the smaller teams and are not in league with the federation. The FIA has an important voice as it has the right to veto any change of control in the commercial structure of the sport and will have to a signatory of any new Concorde Agreement.

This latest move appears to be an attempt to build an alliance between the small teams and the commercial rights holder which would seem to indicate that the optimism that came in the wake of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding was misplaced.