Honda website
Honda website

DECEMBER 21, 2006

The trouble with arbitration

There has been some vague talk of a team or two going to arbitration over the question of whether or not Scuderia Toro Rosso and Super Aguri F1 will be bending the rules next year with their chassis. Both teams are being accused of running the same basic chassis as their sister teams Red Bull Racing and Honda Racing F1 - quite an achievement before we have even seen the cars. There is, of course, a certain amount of logic in the thought process of those complaining as it is hard to imagine how either team would do anything other than copy - but proving it is an entirely different matter and to win an arbitration case will need more than just "it looks the same" arguments. All F1 cars look the same these days and if the two teams have a suitable paper-trail showing that some other organisation did the design work, no arbitration panel is going to rule against the teams, particularly if the FIA says nothing.

Both teams seem to be confident that their cars will comply with the Concorde Agreement. Super Aguri has had its design work done by an external company headed by experienced F1 designer Paul White and Red Bull has a suitable argument about intellectual property rights.

The other problem for those considering arbitration is that it is a long and tiresome (not to mention expensive) process and the result, unless guaranteed, is a distraction that a small team really does not need. It might be midsummer before there is a ruling and by that time events on the track will have overshadowed the legal arguments. Fixing it later is one way with dealing with the problem but F1 as a whole is not keen on retrospective change and so those who are unhappy are being discouraged from taking legal action.