FIA To Start Legal Proceedings Against FOTA & Ferrari

FIA To Start Legal Proceedings Against FOTA & Ferrari

The war continues between Formula One’s governing body – the FIA – and the participating teams, collectively unifying under the FOTA umbrella. What started out as Max Mosley saying he is implementing a budget cap has escalated into eight teams saying they will not take part in the 2010 championship and instead set up their own racing series. The FIA are now saying they will be starting legal proceedings against the FOTA teams without any delay as they have breached contracts and obligations.

The funny thing is, all we want, “we” being the millions of fans around the world, is for a season’s worth of damn good racing with an epic fight for the world championships that comes down to the final corner of the final lap of the final race. Swiftly followed by a sporting handshake between the participants and lots of celebrations.

Alas, while we may get that, we also get the political manoeuvrings that should stay in the background, but nearly always end up in the foreground.

The FIA have released a statement – the second of the day – which explains they are starting legal proceedings against the eight FOTA teams.

The FIA’s lawyers have now examined the FOTA threat to begin a breakaway series. The actions of FOTA as a whole, and Ferrari in particular, amount to serious violations of law including wilful interference with contractual relations, direct breaches of Ferrari’s legal obligations and a grave violation of competition law. The FIA will be issuing legal proceedings without delay.

Preparations for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship continue but publication of the final 2010 entry list will be put on hold while the FIA asserts its legal rights. FIA Press Release.

So it would appear that the FIA believe FOTA and Ferrari seriously violated the law and breached legal obligations. I particularly like the FIA’s choice of language in this statement. It reads “[…] and a grave violation of competition law.” Wowser! Maybe it’s because I was raised on music manuscript, but whenever I read the word “grave” I think of the term as a musical direction, which essentially means what the word means; we’re talking deathbed here, serious undertones of darkness and sadness. And I fail to see how any of the FOTA-8 have behaved in this manner.

I’m also struggling to figure out why Ferrari have been singled out in the statement. Ferrari are a member of FOTA just like the other seven, and previously nine when Williams and Force India were members. While they may have separate deals with the FIA and/or FOM, it seems odd to single them out in a statement that otherwise appears to be relatively generic. Of course, the reason is clear – the FIA want Ferrari in their championship, and in all likely, Ferrari are probably the main protagonists in this saga.

I also fail to see exactly what the FIA are hoping to get from this. Presumably they do want Ferrari (and the other FOTA-7) to stay. But taking them to court isn’t exactly the best way to chummy up to someone or some company. If the FIA are just out to prove a point, then it may turn out to be a very costly mistake. If the FIA are out to break FOTA’s unity, then that is just childish and if the governing body feel they are owed money, then that too seems to be a bit of a mystery – the FIA is a non-profit organisation. Sure, I bet it costs a fair amount to run, but then that is why they charge for licenses etc…

And now because the FIA intend to start legal proceedings, the final 2010 list (which would never have been the final 2010 list anyway) has been put on hold.

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2 comments

  • A quick search on Google for the term “grave violation of competition law” shows that the only other uses that merit a mention and outrank BlogF1 speak of North Korea and nuclear weapons, Ethiopia, Palestinian human rights issues and Iraqui chemical weapons. Yet somehow, the FIA feel Ferrari should be banded in the same group.

    Screenshot of Google Results Page for search term 'grave violation of competition law'

    I’m well aware I’m taking it out of context – I was prompted to the search by looking at how people arrived at BlogF1.

  • Indeed, Max just seems set to push the teams further away with the legal action. Perhaps he thinks he can scare them into returning, but I don’t see FOTA backing down for anything.

    Max is going to need to concede to something, otherwise the FIA-run version of F1 will be left with next to no competitors. That’s a god part of the reason why the entry lis wasen’t released today- there probably aren’t enough teams left to fill it, and Max is banking on finding a solution.

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