The political implications of the Jaguar decision

Mark Webber, French GP 2004

Mark Webber, French GP 2004 

 © The Cahier Archive

The Ford Motor Company's decision to quit Formula 1 and sell its F1-related operations is a setback for the whole sport. It paints F1 in a negative light: Formula 1, Richard Parry-Jones said, was too expensive and was too slow to change. This will help no-one at all, except perhaps those who seek to bring down the value off the sport so that they can regain control which in recent years has been in danger of passing to the automobile manufacturers with the GPWC organization. Ford's decision to depart backs up the argument that car manufacturers come and go from a sport at will and do not care what damage they do. But at the same time there is no reason why the withdrawal of Jaguar Racing will damage the GPWC. Ford may well stay on as a 20% shareholder in the GPWC and continue to support the activities of the other automobile companies with the proviso being that one day when Jaguar Cars is in better health or Ford adopts new policies the company could return. But the number of stakeholders in the GPWC is really not the issue. What is important is the number of teams which are willing to support the older regime of Bernie Ecclestone (or any new operation he might put forward) and those who would join a GPWC series. The FIA is not really involved in this beyond rule-making because it is not allowed to become involved in the commercial transactions of the sport without fear of intervention from the European Union. The overwhelming feeling in the paddock at the moment is that teams need a better deal and if the Formula One group will not split the take on a more equitable basis, they will look elsewhere for money. The F1 banks are hard at work trying to win control of Formula One and if they are successful it is thought that a deal will be done with the GPWC.

The loss of Jaguar in this respect is of limited importance and it will only become an issue once we know if there is to be a new owner.

"I am not blaming any individual or any company," said Parry-Jones. "At the end of the day this is a Ford decision and we cannot blame other people. The sport is as it is. We tried to change it, other interests have prevailed and we have to take into account that reality. I would expect our decision to accelerate the desire for reform in F1."

Parry-Jones also pointed out that cost-reduction as it is currently being carried out is not working.

"The problem with cost reduction measures is that although they can reduce long term cost the very fact that there is change is to the advantage of the bigger teams and is a disadvantage for the smaller teams."

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