JUNE 25, 2008
Analysing the World Council
The FIA World Motorsport Council did not produce the fireworks that had been suggested might happen. However there are clear indications that Max Mosley is pushing ahead with his strategy to improve his historical reputation by creating the sport as it ought to be - rather than the sport he had fashioned before the scandal began. Fixing the perceived wrongs of the sport helps to deflect attention away from his failings, while at the same time offering a better legacy. The underlying message remains: there may have to be a renegotiation of the Concorde Agreement to create a more beneficial situation for the FIA clubs and the F1 teams.
The announcement shows no dramatic attack on the Formula One group, but the proposals being put forward create a situation in which FIA control of Formula 1 will be strengthened and a new Formula 2 created, to take the main feeder series out of private ownership. The existing GP2 is owned by CVC Capital Partners, which also owns the Formula One group. It is still run by the same people as previously, when it was owned by Ecclestone ally Flavio Briatore and, so they say, Ecclestone himself. In recent months there have been increasing complaints from the teams in recent times that the cost of spare parts is outrageous and mutterings about whether it is right for some of the drivers competing to be managed by people involved with the administration of the championship.
The FIA says that will invite tenders for a new feeder series and suggests that this will be launched in 2009. The World Council says that this should be "an inexpensive platform to develop emerging driver talent for Formula 1" and that the budget must be limited at around $300,000 a year.
This will attract the attention of all the major racing car production companies but they will need to act quickly because getting cars designed and built in time for next year is virtually impossible. It means that they will have to bid with existing designs. What it really means is that there is no place for any middle men to make a killing. And it will remove any potential replacement for Formula 1 in the short term.
The FIA said that it will discuss plans for better efficiency with the F1 teams, including new technical regulations and a review of the way F1 is governed. The Formula One group has, apparently, agreed to provide its response to a number of proposals made by the FIA last year.
It is worth noting that in order to head off any possibility of a Formula 1 breakaway series - unlikely though that may be, the F1 teams must enter the championship before July 1 and July 31. In effect this means that teams have no choice but to sign up as there is no chance at all of anyone organising a rival series in 2009. The FIA says that the entry fee will remain much the same as in 2008 but is going to discuss further fees with the teams. These are designed to take organisational elements in F1 away from the Formula One group.
All things considered, the decisions suggest that the FIA is taking protective measures against the possibility of a split, while at the same time, going on the attack with the Formula 2 idea.
This all ties in which Max Mosley's recent campaign to reinforce the authority of the FIA, while at the same time making himself look more presidential, after the demolition of his credibility in the sex scandal back in March.
We hear that there was also some discussion over the question of whether one country should be allowed to have two Grands Prix, which must be seen as an attack on Barcelona. This did not result in any action but as the calendar gets tighter in the years ahead, it may open the way for the end of the event.
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