MAY 9, 2005
The Manufacturers speak again
The five car manufacturers other than Ferrari in Formula 1 continue on their path towards creating what they believe will be a better World Championship.
And, to make the point that they are serious, they have announced that they have formed an association to jointly represent their interests in Grand Prix racing. They have also said that they will use 2.4-litre V8 engines until the end of 2008 in order to ensure stability in the short term, now that they have all invested in the design of the engines. They will look at what engine formula to adopt after that at some point in the future.
The manufacturers' document said that they are looking forward to meeting with the FIA in the near future to discuss the post-2007 regulations.
However there was a clear note of warning that they are not impressed with what has been going on in F1 in recent days.
They confirmed once again that "the issue of sporting governance is central to the comprehensive set of governing principles which the manufacturers unanimously agreed in January 2005" and said that "one of their objectives is to have a definitive interpretation of the applicable regulations through an independent, readily accessible and swift appeals process, administered by an internationally recognised body, in accordance with the practice of other major sports".
None of this means that there has to be a second World Championship - a situation which everyone wants to avoid - and reading between the lines it is clear that a revolution in the current structures would be fine.
There is no doubt at all that the Formula 1 world wants a court that it feels it can trust. We believe is fair to say that it is still hard to find many people in the F1 paddock who are satisfied that the current structure meets these criteria. The FIA may not agree and may not like that perception but there are many who feel that the BAR court case last week did nothing to improve the image of the system, although inevitably one cannot easily measure such attitudes by any quantitative means.
During his press conference in Barcelona at the weekend FIA President Max Mosley said that there was no need for the FIA to use an external sports court rather than its own judges.
Mosley made light of the fact that the federation did not even have a barrister at last week's court while BAR hired "one of the cleverest people at the English bar". This may be so, but the result of that was that the FIA case did not seem very convincing after David Pannick QC had cross-examined the witnesses.
"They had all of those resources," Mosley said. "It wasn't actually equal arms, and I think another time I will send a barrister who's a good cross-examiner because what was needed here was a good cross-examination of their witnesses and then the whole case would have just dissolved into tatters."
That is an opinion but as it did not happen, it is not possible to say that the BAR case would have fallen apart.
Not having proper representation leads critics to suggest that the FIA feels it does not need to do a proper job because the court will always back the federation's point of view. That may be unfair but it does not make sense for the FIA not to have proper legal representation.
Mosley also gave his opinion about what he thought the courts would say if the BAR case had gone to civil action. As it has not gone to civil action, these views have little positive value.
Similarly, Mosley made allegations about the the recent court case in Melbourne, claiming that "the court was misled", alleging "contempt of court" and describing the process as having been "almost comical". It is surely better if the FIA wishes to challenge what happened in Melbourne to go back to the Australian courts as soon as possible and let them decide who is right and who is wrong, rather than trying to convince the media about what might happen.
More progress might also be made towards a settlement to the problems in F1 if Mosley stopped feeling the need to fill his press conferences with barbed remarks and put-downs about teams and team principals. References to McLaren's new factory may be amusing to Mosley but it is hardly constructive for the FIA President to make statements about how teams should spend their money, particularly when the factory in question is used for much more than just Formula 1 activities.
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