SEPTEMBER 29, 2005
What part of the process is so hard to understand?
Formula 1 is about motor racing not about the art of negotiation and F1 fans are bored rigid by the never-ending quibbling over the rules and the commercial rights that surround the sport. The two issues are linked because of the alliance that exists between the FIA and its commercial rights holder FOM. They seem to think that if they maintain a hard line in their negotiations the F1 teams will eventually buckle under and accept their terms, even if the terms on offer are fundamentally unfair. They may be right but what they seem not to notice nor accept is that even if they succeed, it is not any great achievement. The problems will continue and we will go from one mind-numbing negotiation process straight into another, which will be aimed at changing the system from 2013. The system was unfair in 1997 and disputes have simmered on ever since. The sport has been adrift and has lacked investment, promotion and original thought in the interim. As a result it is not growing as fast as it might and is gradually slipping against other areas of the sport and indeed against other recreational activities. The current system may be pumping out the cash for those who feed at the F1 trough but if the business does not take care of itself a little more in the future, the gusher will run dry.
The issue at hand is very simple: fairness. And as history has taught those who bother to look at it, all unfair systems eventually fail with the dictators that run them either dying rich or being ousted and exiled.
Dying rich seems a fairly pointless ambition when one has wealth beyond imagination and one wonders whether one or two of the people concerned might one day grasp the concept of gaining immortality by doing something for the good of the sport rather than for their own selfish goals thus leaving something behind them that will not crumble the minute they depart.
You cannot buy extra time on this earth but as Andrew Carnegie, Alfred Nobel, the Guggenheims and others have discovered you can buy yourself a good name.
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