Formula One To Split As Talks Between FIA & FOTA Fail

Formula One To Split As Talks Between FIA & FOTA Fail

The eight remaining teams that make up the Formula One Teams Association have decided to set up a new racing series following the failure to reach an agreement with the FIA over the 2010 World Championship. While this news has been building and building in recent weeks, the announcement – made at midnight this morning – is still a shock and will undoubtedly overshadow the British Grand Prix this weekend. In fact, it is likely to cast shade over the remainder of the 2009 season.

The eight teams – Ferrari, McLaren, Brawn, Toyota, Renault, BMW, Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso – met at Renault’s Enstone factory yesterday to discuss the issues surrounding their Friday deadline to remove the conditions they had placed on their 2010 Championship entries. Through letters sent back and forth between the two parties, it was made clear that the FIA have little intention of backing down over the teams demands. The FIA had stated that the £40m budget cap would remain for next year and rejected FOTA’s recent complaint against Steward Chairman Alan Donnelly. FOTA claimed that Donnelly was intentionally trying to cause a rift in FOTA by misrepresenting the teams during meetings at the Turkish Grand Prix.

With little sign that the governance of the sport will improve to FOTA’s liking, the four hour long meeting resulted in the association releasing a statement that has sent shockwaves through the sport and it’s fans.

Since the formation of FOTA last September the teams have worked together and sought to engage the FIA and commercial rights holder, to develop and improve the sport.

Unprecedented worldwide financial turmoil has inevitably placed great challenges before the F1 community. FOTA is proud that it has achieved the most substantial measures to reduce costs in the history of our sport.

In particular the manufacturer teams have provided assistance to the independent teams, a number of which would probably not be in the sport today without the FOTA initiatives. The FOTA teams have further agreed upon a substantial voluntary cost reduction that provides a sustainable model for the future.

Following these efforts all the teams have confirmed to the FIA and the commercial rights holder that they are willing to commit until the end of 2012.

The FIA and the commercial rights holder have campaigned to divide FOTA.

The wishes of the majority of the teams are ignored. Furthermore, tens of millions of dollars have been withheld from many teams by the commercial rights holder, going back as far as 2006. Despite this and the uncompromising environment, FOTA has genuinely sought compromise.

It has become clear however, that the teams cannot continue to compromise on the fundamental values of the sport and have declined to alter their original conditional entries to the 2010 World Championship.

These teams therefore have no alternative other than to commence the preparation for a new Championship which reflects the values of its participants and partners. This series will have transparent governance, one set of regulations, encourage more entrants and listen to the wishes of the fans, including offering lower prices for spectators worldwide, partners and other important stakeholders.

The major drivers, stars, brands, sponsors, promoters and companies historically associated with the highest level of motorsport will all feature in this new series. FOTA Statement.

The news is very damaging to Formula One, and while preparing for this weekend’s race, many drivers have voiced their concern for the sport’s future, but vowed to follow their respective teams. Many of the comments coming from the drivers centre around the fact that with so many new teams entering next year, the sport will not be as challenging or technically advance. In essence, the drivers do not want to race in a dumbed-down series.

FOTA seem confident that they can set up a breakaway series and that there will be transparent governance – something the fans have been crying out for. FOTA say they will listen to the fans and generally try to improve on what Formula One has pretty much failed at doing; cheaper tickets and one set of organised regulations. FOTA also say that the major drivers, sponsors and promoters will follow them to the new series, which if true, particularly for the promoters, will give the new championship and excellent starting position.

It is almost certain that when FIA president Max Mosley responds to FOTA’s announcement, it will be a response filled with optimism for the future of Formula One, of new teams, new faces and stability for the future. However, loosing many of the sport’s big names will have a costly impact and even with the little knowledge we have at the moment (literally, it is just the FOTA statement), I can foresee many fans following FOTA and the drivers they employ to a new series.

For Bernie Ecclestone, the future may not be quite so clear. Ecclestone controls the commercial rights to Formula One and therefore he is not directly linked to the negotiations that have happened in the past few months. However, the wealthy Briton obviously has a vested interest in the sport, and losing so many household names will not make his job any easier. It is likely that for now, Ecclestone will have to remain with Formula One, but if the breakaway championship proves successful, the lure of it may prove too much of an opportunity to miss.

Of course, this is big news for Formula One, but it also affects the future of BlogF1. I will not lie, the recent political mess the sport has found itself in has worn me down somewhat, but BlogF1 still holds a very special place in my heart. The site will always remain as will the 1600+ article archive. But what to do in 2010? Well, I’ve been up all night thinking about it – I’m literally stepping out the door to go to work – and although I cannot really make decision until more is known about the championships, a new domain will likely be set up and efforts moved over accordingly.

So, what’s next…?

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20 comments

  • This is bad news. The comments over at the Times website seem to all be supporting FOTA, but my guess is that is more about the public hating Max right now than any desire to really support the FOTA teams.

    I’ve watched this all before, when IRL was set up in the mid-1990s to be a low cost alternative to the expensive CART series. Open wheel racing was never the same in North America. Teams and drivers flipped back and forth between the series. It became too confusing for people to follow which series they were watching. Fans abandoned both series are started watching NASCAR, which now is the most important racing series in North America. Open wheel racing became a secondary series, and only recently has been getting attention, thanks to Danika Patrick.

    I’m afraid the same would happen with the F1 / FOTA series split. What would fill the gap, I don’t know. Le Mans racing, Moto GP or maybe some Euro-NASCAR thing. It would be a huge opportunity for another form of racing to take advantage.

  • I’ve watched this all before, when IRL was set up in the mid-1990s to be a low cost alternative to the expensive CART series. Open wheel racing was never the same in North America.

    Many people have been saying just that this morning. I don’t know enough about that particular split to comment with any authority, but I do know that any split is usually not good simply because of the complications it adds and confusion it causes.

    I can see the long term gain for severing ties with the FIA, but it has to be done very well. I never thought I would say this, but I’m starting to think FOTA need Bernie onside. If that is even possible given his commitments to CVC.

  • Crazy times, it will remain to be seen what the effects are to the sport as a whole. It’s worrying and exciting at the same time, the image of F1 being full of people bickering and disagreeing is clearly not a good one, but exciting as a breakaway series and all new blood in the FIA F1 could prove a breath of fresh air.

    Is it possible to draw up new rules and regulations and have everything in place to start a brand new series in 2010? I guess we shall see.

  • Is it possible to draw up new rules and regulations and have everything in place to start a brand new series in 2010? I guess we shall see.

    I think they could get it all done in time. Remember, FOTA would make the rules, so they can make their lives as easy or as difficult as they like. And for the first year, they can just run slightly modified versions of the cars they are currently running. Fixing the procedural rules won’t be overly tasking as FOTA seem to already know what they want. The hardest thing will be the contracts with the circuits and various suppliers and the marketing aspect of it all.

  • The hardest thing will be the contracts with the circuits and various suppliers and the marketing aspect of it all.

    Actually, the hardest thing, I imagine, would be organising the governance. Once it’s in place, it is easy. But getting everyone to agree on how the sport should be governed will be tricky, even if each FOTA member is joined at the hip to the other and enjoying a cosy love-in on Mallya’s Briatore’s yacht. 🙂

  • Yeah thats true, the cars don’t need to be totally new designs in year 1. I agree, I think one of the hardest things will be marketing a new series and obtaining tv coverage for it.

  • I don’t think it’ll be as hard as most of you guys seem to think. Remember, Ferrari is there. As I said when all this begun, Mosley failed to foresee the power of the red brand, as I predicted, when Ferrari leaves, all will follow. That is the power of that single team.

    And, in the same lines, the circuits would be more than happy to let them race whenever they want. Seriously, Señor Manos and Gonzales and Mickey Mouse Team vs Ferrari, McLaren and all? There’s simply no challenge.

    They have an easy job ahead, as you mention, the cars will be the same, they have an idea of the new regulations and they’re sick of the stupid dictatorship so far.

    Sponsors? TV? Again, Ferrari is there.

    Even if you’re not a Ferrari fan, you have to give them credit, their name is tied with “racing” and whatever series they decide to create, they have it easier just because they’re there.

    I’m actually looking forward to the Fall of FIA and F1. I will be more than happy to see the look in that halfwit’s face.

    On a side note, anyone knows what JV thinks? I’m surprised he hasn’t given an opinion!

  • Remember, Ferrari is there.

    I’m not going to say that myself just yet. There is apparently an issue with this – the FIA believe they are signed up and good to go with F1. Not racing in Max’s series will cause them headaches. However, if it came to the courts, I think Ferrari would happily settle just to get out of F1 and have a clean start with a new series or something different to single seaters. After all, they are one of only a tiny few who made a profit recently (the road car side of the company, obviously). Ferrari are fairly rich at the moment in comparison to others.

    On a side note, anyone knows what JV thinks? I’m surprised he hasn’t given an opinion!

    JV’s probably too busy trying to sell his new album – I heard it’s already in the bargain-bin at most music stores. 😀

    I am so gonna get into trouble with Mr C at Sidepodcast with that last remark!

  • I wouldn’t jump off the ship yet…

    Both sides are flexing their muscles and the final edition to the story has yet to be printed. I wager that the FIA and FOTA will end up bending to some degree and find resolve in this matter. After all Formula One is about me the viewer, I am the one who uses the product so well advertised on these amazing machines. Someone tell Bernie and Max that I won’t watch “Formula Different” and for sure will avoid the product that I see on the racecars if this nonsense continues.

    Again MONEY is the root of all evils.

    Steve the F1 fan for now…

  • So we’ve had a bit of a rucus come up since you were last on Ollie- good to see you back!

    After checking my computer last night and realising my worst fears for the sport were coming true, Formula 1 is in a very perilious position indeed. After looking at everyhting that has emerged to this point, here are a few of my conclusions:

    – Max needs the FOTA teams far more than they need him and the FIA. Without those teams, and the withdraw of several potential new entries, the FIA is left with a token collection of newcomers and one devout exisiting team…..it adds up to not even a shadow of the current F1.

    – Max continues to make idiotic statements that will only further unite FOTA.

    – The issue of forcing Max to resign is, in my mind, not the key factor. If that were the issue, I believe the teams would have asked for it or demanded it already.

    – FOTA is not just waging war against Max and the FIA, but also against Bernie and CVC as well. Remember that report about Ron and Flavio barging into Bernie’s office the week before Melbourne and demanding their money going back to 2006? I do…….

    – The team with the most to lose in the whole equasion is Team USF1. If they stick with the FIA, they’ll be driving around with Williams and a bunch of no-names in a bunch of desert kingdoms. In my mind, if this really gose down, USF1 MUST jump with the FOTA bunch, or else they’ll be less than an afterthought in America.

    At the end of the day, I believe Max will need to give in, or else he faces the very real possibility of not having enough teams on the grid to run an effective series. But again, if the breakaway dose happen, my fondest wish is for USF1 to join the FOTA teams, and the FOTA club should welcome them with open arms.

  • Both sides are flexing their muscles and the final edition to the story has yet to be printed.

    Oh definitely. This one still has a long way to go yet. A looong way to go! When’s the Australian Grand Prix again!? 🙂

    So we’ve had a bit of a rucus come up since you were last on Ollie- good to see you back!

    So have I. 😉 (I got tipsey in Monaco and fell a*** over t**.) Good to be back though. I was only away for a week and was around on other sites sharing the love, but thanks for the welcome return, it is appreciated as always.

    If [USF1] stick with the FIA, they’ll be driving around with Williams and a bunch of no-names in a bunch of desert kingdoms. In my mind, if this really gose down, USF1 MUST jump with the FOTA bunch, or else they’ll be less than an afterthought in America.

    I don’t mean to sound rude, because I would love to see USF1 in F1 (or whatever championship) just as much as you, but they are a no-name team as well. Admittedly the most serious sounding, but still grouped in with the ‘new teams’ bunch.

    Although, who of us expected Honda/Brawn to do what they have been doing thus far this year. Only a few months back they were the laughing stock of the sport. I think Keith at F1Fanatic worked out Honda spent the most per point last year, even out-shaming Toyota for once. But until USF1 and all the other new teams have completed a race, we just won’t know who really is serious about motor sport and who is just turning up to make up the numbers.

    But, I do share your sentiment. FOTA will undoubtedly go to America if they get the championship off the ground and fail to reconcile with the FIA – and that alone will prove to be very handy for their fanbase.

    and the FOTA club should welcome them with open arms.

    Martin Whitmarsh hinted earlier today that a few new teams have contacted FOTA regarding their ‘planned’ series, and he said they would welcome them and FOTA would do their best to support new teams. So I think they are being open. Or just twisting the knife that is lodged in the FIA right now. Or perhaps both.

  • Ollie, me lad. Why in world would FOTA need Bernie? I’ve got to believe there are more than enough historic venues that would jump at the change to sign on…especially because it will be substantially cheaper the outrageous money Bernie charges. A cursory review of numerous blogs convinces me that a new FOTA series would not have any problem attracting fans. And as far as a broadcast partner, you have to believe there’s several networks that would be interested. What could Bernie bring to the table beyond his many years of experience in strong-arming the various constituences?

  • Anyone else see any similarities between the predicaments Max and the Iran’s Supreme Leader are now both in?

  • Ollie, me lad. Why in world would FOTA need Bernie?

    Because the chances are he would bring the BBC with him. And to me, that is very important. So trust me, FOTA needs Bernie. 😉

    Bernie only charges what he thinks he can get away with, and then adds 10%. If FOTA are calling the shots, they could better control Bernie and his money-making mind – it would be like the opposite of the current set up, but probably still more profitable than FIA F1 because it will have the names and the fans. And that alone would tempt Bernie, even if he did have to relinquish a fair amount of control.

    I know that’s like an ideal scenario that will probably never play out (Bernie bringing his wealth of experience and contacts, but being a subordinate of the teams), but I can dream…

  • I found the comments from Bernie yesterday interesting in what they didn’t say. Bernie played the confused old man card, claiming not to know anything about the FOTA threat or any controversy or division between the teams and the FIA. He finished simply with the statement, “I don’t know. Ask Max.”

    It was a very ambiguous statement, not very supportive of Max. I wonder if Bernie is starting to position himself so he can ditch Max in the near future and try and bring the FOTA teams back into the fold.

  • […] Former Ferrari principal Jean Todt has won the election to become the FIA’s next president, beating Ari Vatanen with 135 votes to 49. Max Mosley, who has presided over the organisation since 1993 decided to not run again earlier in the year after controversial measures were intended to be implemented which caused great unrest among the Formula One teams. […]

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