Honda F1 website

APRIL 15, 2005

Go to court the lot of you!

The announcement today by the FIA that it is to push ahead with its plans to create new rules for Formula 1 in 2008 will, no doubt, lead to much talk. There will be reaction (indeed there already has been) and then there will counter-reaction (the phones are already ringing in the world of F1 journalism) and none of it will achieve anything for the credibility of Formula 1.

The sport will once again be seen as an activity which is so badly organised that the rules are constantly being changed and the participants (one might say "stakeholders" as this is the current buzzword) are constantly arguing over the clauses of the contract, known as the Concorde Agreement, which is supposed to govern the sport. In Formula 1 the word concorde (French for concord) does not mean harmony as one might suppose. The name Concorde was chosen because much of the negotiation was done in a meeting room in a Heathrow hotel, which was named after a supersonic aeroplane.

It just sounded good at the time.

The irony is that nowadays they are even arguing over what clauses in the Concorde Agreement mean. The opinions are irrelevant. There is a contract and there are courts of law which look at such matters and rule on what is right and what is wrong. The F1 arbitration process is completely unsuited to the sport because it takes so long for anything to happen and F1 is a sport that is constantly changing shape.

There is nothing to be gained from reporting the tit-for-tat comments that are fired backward and forward between the warring parties. The only way that the sport can sort itself out is to get to court to establish the correct interpretation of the contract. Perhaps the FIA does have a right to dictate how the rules for 2008 should be made. Perhaps not. Perhaps the teams have the power to impose their solutions on the federation. Perhaps not. There is no real point in engaging in the dispute because having an opinion inevitably upsets one side or the other.

Going to court has not been a happy experience for most of the F1 community. The courts do not suffer fools nor barrack room lawyers. Once all the preliminary arguments over jurisdiction and such matters are out of the way, gamesmanship comes to an end. Egos are either inflated or popped.

For the good of the sport, we believe that F1 must short-circuit months of wrangling and get up before a judge.

The sport, let us not forget, is about cars going around in oddly-shaped circles.