JULY 7, 2005
Crisis, what crisis?
The details of what happened in Munich on Wednesday are a closely-guarded secret but our spies suggest that the focus of the F1 teams was very much on the longterm future rather than getting too much involved with politics. We are told that the question of the FIA elections did not even come up and that the main players are veering away from any form of showdown with FIA President Max Mosley, preferring to play a longer game. The major goal was to finish off the rules which the teams have in the planning stages so that they can be presented to the world in a few weeks from now.
The teams may not even bother to challenge Mosley at the election in October because the electoral system makes life difficult for outsiders.
The FIA President is elected by the General Assembly, which is made up of representatives from each of the member clubs. It has never been a very revolutionary body and tends to follow the wishes of the leadership, rather than rocking the boat. To make matters even more complicated electoral procedures were changed recently and now require the General Assembly to elect not a person but rather a "list" of no fewer than 23 names to fill the major positions. There are in additional restrictions on who can be included in such lists as regional representation is necessary and a candidate from one list may not appear on another list so ambitious candidates have to be careful how they choose the list they wish to be on. Signing on for a list which loses is a guarantee of obscurity for four years.
The alternative route is to create a rival championship and simply ignore the FIA. The teams are bound to compete in Formula 1 until the end of 2007 but afterwards are free to depart. The FIA would then need to find new teams to be the opposition to Ferrari and while having some kind of advanced GP2 series instead of F1 is a weak alternative, particularly as it is hard to see Ferrari agreeing to anything other than running its own engines and chassis.
The teams appear keen to give the impression that there is no hint of bluff in their dealings although the last time this was tried - ironically by Mosley in November 1980 - it was a bluff. That was called the World Federation of Motor Sport, which was set up in competition to the FISA (the sporting arm of the FIA) led at the time by the mercurial Jean-Marie Balestre.
The WFMS announced a World Professional Drivers Championship.
"The split was inevitable," said Frank Williams, "under Balestre FISA is no longer capable of administering professional motorsport."
"After 25 years in Grand Prix racing I would rather stop than continue under Balestre," said Lotus boss Colin Chapman.
The bluff went on until February 1981 when rebel teams raced in South Africa. That event featured Williams, Tyrrell, Brabham, McLaren, ATS, Lotus, Ensign, March, Fittipaldi, Arrows and Theodore but Renault, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Talbot Ligier and Osella did not attend. It then became clear that there was no viable rebel series and a compromise was reached
The only real difference today is that there are nine teams - Jordan also attended the Munich meeting - and this time the manufacturers are with the opposition rather than the establishment.
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