MARCH 10, 2007
Why the customer car row may not flare up just yet
There is talk of problems in Melbourne with regard to the ongoing dispute over customer cars in Formula 1 but it may be that the Australian Grand Prix weekend will be a little quieter thaan many people think. There are several good reasons for this, not least the fact that it is very complicated trying to take legal actions in time zones which do not match with Europe and where there is a weekend in the middle of the likely dispute. This means that the amount of time in which action can be taken is limited. In addition the Concorde Agreement, around which the dispute centres, is a document ruled by British law and this getting the Australians involved does not really make a great deal of sense.
A more logical route would be to file any complaint in Europe where none of the above problems exist.
The first three races will, nonetheless, be very useful in the case because they will give a clear indication of the competitiveness of the Toro Rosso and the Super Aguri, the two cars at the centre of the dispute. If they do better than some of the other teams., there will be evidence that the rivals have suffered material damage and thus their cases are more likely to succeed. Taking action before any events have been run does not have quite the same impact.
On top of that there is always the possibility that some of the top teams will not do as well in the first three races as they might have hoped and if that turns out to be the case, the smaller teams may find themselves with bigger and more potent allies in the fight. One thinks, specifically, of Toyota.
Red Bull seems to be making no bones about the fact that the two cars are the same, instead arguing that there is a third party involved and thus that the arrangement meets the wording of the contract. This may be so but the danger is that any legal assessment of such a case would involve the question of whether the intention of the law was met. In a large percentage of cases, the intention overrules the wording.
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