OCTOBER 20, 2008
The state of play before Geneva
The Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) is sending Ferrari's Luca di Montezemolo and Toyota's John Howett, to Geneva to meet with FIA President Max Mosley to discuss ways to make F1 more cost-effective. The teams has several lengthy meetings in Shanghai to discuss the proposals they will put forward to Mosley and, basically they ignored the FIA announcement of a tender for a sole engine supplier. The teams have learned over the years that many of Mosley's public announcements are not to be taken too seriously and the most recent one looked rather like an attempt to break up the unity of the teams that has been seen in recent weeks with FOTA. As long as the teams stay together and work as a union the FIA and the commercial rights holder FOM cannot divide and conquer them. The teams have all agreed a document which will be put to Mosley by the two FOTA representatives. This obviously has elements which are attractive to the big teams and to the smaller independent teams as well. The teams also seem to feel that Mosley will not oppose their ideas because they move in the direction that the the FIA says it wants the sport to go, which means to reduce costs, keep the small teams alive and yet also develop new environmnetal technologies to give the sport a better image.
All of this sounds eminently sensible and one wonders why it has been necessary for the FIA to make such a flurry of publicity about standardised engines.
There is no doubt that the teams are stronger now than they have ever been, particularly as Ferrari is siding with them and FOTA is using sensible tactics to avoid attempts to destabilise the situation. There is still potential for division because of the different situations and aims of the different teams but for the moment the fear of disunion and the logic of sticking together remains strong.
There is no doubt that it is best for the sport to keep its politicking out of the private eye as there is rarely any good publicity from such shenanigans. The focus of the sport should be on the racing and in China it definitely was with a great performance by Lewis Hamilton and no controversy worth reporting. Finding the right way forward for the sport in a quiet and measured manner is a good thing and we hope that it continues.
There are, of course, likely to be lots more opportunities for controversy in the years ahead as the financial agreements that currently run the business of the sport will be up for renegotiation and it is fairly clear that once again the teams want a bigger slice of the F1 pie.
The teams seem to have established a list of priorities: the first is to make immediate cuts in costs to help the eams that may be affected by the financial troubles of the world; the second is to look at ways to create more revenues; the third is to find a suitable way to distribute these revenues and the fourth is to look at ways to improve the way the sport is run. The teams have different views on the different subjects but treating each element as different and unrelated is a good way to avoid division.
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