OCTOBER 2, 2007

How Spyker can influence the World Championship

For most of the season the Formula 1 lawyers has been waiting for a Concorde Agreement dispute to be settled over the question of what constitutes "a constructor". This is clearly defined in the 1997-2007 agreement and Spyker F1 is arguing that neither Scuderia Toro Rosso nor Super Aguri F1 are true constructors and thus should not get the benefits and indeed results that they have claimed this year.

If Spyker wins the case both of its rivals will have to be thrown out of the Constructors™ rankings, which would move Spyker up to eighth position. Under the current Concorde Agreement that would be worth around $1m. This is probably what it will cost to pay for the arbitration.

When signatories to the Concorde Agreement disagree with one another, there is a process of arbitration, governed by Article 17.3 of the agreement which states that all disputes arising shall be "finally settled under the Rules of Conciliation and Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce" in Lausanne, Switzerland. This involves the case being heard by a panel of three arbitrators who listen to the arguments put forward by both parties and then issue a ruling.

The arbitration panel will meet to consider the case on Tuesday, October 9, giving the teams time to get back to Europe from Shanghai. If the court rules against Toro Rosso and Super Aguri F1 there is likely to be trouble in Brazil as there will no doubt be arguments that neither team should be allowed to race. There is also the question of points won this year as Super Aguri has picked up four points and Toro Rosso and Spyker are fighting over the point for eighth place in Japan.

This seemingly obscure issue could have an effect on the World Championship as the removal of points gained by Takuma Sato and the necessary reissuing of points for those who finished behind him, could mean that the fight for the title will be altered as Fernando Alonso finished seventh in Montreal and would move up one place and gain an extra point. This would mean he is 11 points behind Lewis Hamilton rather than 12. The others who would benefit are Giancarlo Fisichella, who would gain a point along with Mark Webber and Ralf Schumacher. In the Constructors' title it is less relevant as McLaren cannot score points. It would mean that Renault would get one more point, although there is no competition for third place in the Constructors' title. The points gained by Webber and Schumacher mean little as they would in effect cancel one another out as both teams would make the same gain.

The decision is also important for the longer term as there is no new Concorde Agreement at the moment - and after a year of negotiation it is not likely that there will be one in the next few days. The teams have decided that the best way forward is to roll on the existing agreement into 2008, (rather than trying to run the sport without a Concorde Agreement) and that means that the definition of a constructor would still be in place and Prodrive should not be allowed to enter the World Championship with a McLaren chassis.

It would also make like very difficult for Toro Rosso and Super Aguri as they would have to try to find some way build a car for next year without using their current equipment and suppliers. In theory both teams could go back to old chassis that they have but these are not going to be very competitive.

The ruling should therefore help to move the Concorde Agreement negotiations forward so that a deal can be done before December 31 when the current agreement runs out.