MAY 25, 2005
Carrots and sticks
The FIA issued a very strange press release on Wednesday which had no apparent reason. And that means that, undoubtedly, there was a reason behind it. The statement said: "Following the BAR Honda press release of May 11, the FIA regards the San Marino Grand Prix incident as closed. BAR Honda are no longer under investigation and the FIA wish them every success in the remaining 13 rounds of the FIA Formula One World Championship."
At the same time as this was going on, the BAR Honda team was being told that it will not be allowed to use new engines for the European Grand Prix this weekend, despite the fact that the other teams seem to have agreed (or had said that they would agree if the FIA let the team switch engines). The fact that BAR will have to use the same engines that were fitted in Imola is a disadvantage in that development moves on all the time in F1 and so being stuck with engines that are now several weeks behind will mean that the team will not be as competitive as might have been the case.
The public image of being conciliatory is one that will do the FIA no harm at all after all the confrontation of recent months, notably the remarks made by FIA President Max Mosley in Barcelona, but while the statement today may quieten down media activity, it is unlikely to have any real effect on the feelings of those in F1 who believe that Mosley is the problem. It is said that they still want him out of the sport and, if one takes that seriously, one might conclude that the recent suggestion that Bernie Ecclestone could join the FIA and run F1, leaving Mosley to concentrate on other FIA matters, was an elaborate way of offering the teams an alternative to Mosley.
We believe that Ecclestone is still busy trying to find a solution to the problems but it is not an easy task given the water that has passed under the bridge and the fact that in a few weeks there will have to be decisions about rules for 2008 and beyond. And that is going to be a troublesome process unless the FIA decides to adopt the ideas being put forward by the teams. That might not be a stupid idea because it would take the wind from the sales of the rebels. However such a move would amount to a major climb-down by the FIA president, which seems somehow unlikely given his feisty attitude in recent years.
It is possible, of course, that Mosley might eventually conclude that the best way to hold on to his job is to sit down and not rock the boat until after the election.
The problem with that idea is that the F1 team principals are already worried about what might happen after the election.
In the meantime everyone is watching the FIA member clubs to see whether or not there is going to be a challenger to Mosley in October.
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