A deadline passes

The FIA and the Formula 1 teams did not manage to find a solution to the engine discussions about 2008 before the deadline of June 30. Thus in theory the rules are now set unless there is unanimous agreement to change them. However, the entire legality of the system could be open to challenge because the teams - in the Sporting Working Group - voted to cancel all engine homologation only to have that proposal ignored by the FIA. The federation refuses to accept compromise and ignore the structure it created for decision-making. This obviously undermines the credibility of the entire process as it is clear that the under the current management the FIA will do as it pleases, whether or not there are structures in place.

The manufacturers may grumble about this but thus far they have not done anything about it, although the option remains to go to legal action to bring the federation to heel. The FIA seems to think that this is irrelevant and is now pushing on to try to get the 2008 regulations introduced for 2007. That is going to be hard because the Concorde Agreement runs until the end of 2007 and the only way to change that is to get unanimous agreement - which is not going to happen. Trying to force the issue in this respect could lead to arbitration but that would be a lengthy process and the World Championship will be half over before the matter is even discussed by arbirators and that would risk a situation in which the World Championship could be declared to be illegal and that would undermine any point there is in competing. If the FIA is to be taken to task, the sport is going to get hurt in the process. It is thus up to the manufacturers to decide whether it is worth the sacrifice of F1 credibility to ensure that the rules are followed to the letter. And that is a tough choice.

The FIA argues that the teams signed up to engine homologation when they entered the 2008 World Championship a few months ago. That is true but at the same time they also signed up to the right to change those rules if they chose to do so and in this respect their desires are being ignored. The FIA has come up with number of different justifications to get what it wants but none of these explanations take into account the fact that the structure of decision-making is being ignored.

When all is said and done, the arguments have little interest for the fans and it is best that F1 tries to find a consensus and gets everyone singing from the same songsheet. The problem seems to be that the FIA is refusing to compromise on anything. In principle the federation can do as it pleases but only if it keeps to commitments it has made. Overlooking such commitments is not a good idea but as there is no-one within the FIA structure who is willing to stand up and ask questions about the current administration the only choice for those opposed to this is to seek action from outside authorities. The problem with that course of action is that the car manufacturers risk running into trouble with the FIA at various different levels during the period of time before the relevant authorities examine what has been going on and come up with a ruling.

When all is said and done, it is simply a game of poker between the usual suspects in F1 which may keep them amused but is of little interest outside the squabbling cabal. The thing that is perhaps most worrying is that the battle seems to be more about ego than about what is best for the sport - the same problem that has plagued the sport for years.

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