Analysis: F1 Dances to a Different Tune

Back-tracking is always advisable when signposts indicate the road ahead leads to an abyss

Analysis: F1 Dances to a Different Tune

Formula One appears to have decided to do just that since last weekend's British Grand Prix.

Some of the key players in the long-standing power struggle between the manufacturers and world governing body have found the brakes and engaged reverse gear after taking the sport closer to the brink of crisis.

Instead of conflict, the talk now seems to be of conciliation and compromise.

Even if the reasons remain unclear, although obviously nobody would benefit if the sport went over the edge and split in two, there have been enough comments and statements in recent days to suggest a sea change.

Last week, FIA president Max Mosley was portrayed in some quarters as Formula One's most hated man - dictatorial, high-handed and at odds with teams, drivers and manufacturers.

In the aftermath of last month's US Grand Prix tyre fiasco, there was talk of race boycotts and of the manufacturers possibly speeding up their plans for a rival series, being threatened from 2008.

A full-blown crisis was averted when the FIA stepped back from imposing immediate sanctions on the seven Michelin teams, all of whom had failed to race at Indianapolis because of concern about the safety of their tyres.

However, Minardi boss Paul Stoddart still called for Mosley's head and a rumour went around, later denied, that the teams had decided to put up their own candidate to try and unseat the Briton in the FIA's presidential election in October.

"If F1 is to survive and thrive, it has to be without Mosley," Stoddart had said.

Different Picture

Since Silverstone, a different picture has emerged.

Renault's Flavio Briatore, in an interview with Germany's Welt am Sonntag that was then published on the team website and e-mailed to reporters, praised Mosley and poured cold water on suggestions of a future split.

"Max Mosley has done a very good job in recent years," declared Briatore.

"He is an intelligent, capable man who has good ideas. That doesn't mean that everything he suggests is perfect but I am in agreement with his most important points."

Renault are a founder member of the manufacturer grouping plotting the rival series but Briatore said all parties in Formula One needed to get together as soon as possible.

"There is no war in Formula One, and there won't be," he added, suggesting that the FIA, commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone and the teams could work out a deal to move forward without the banks that now control the commercial rights.

"We are looking for a compromise with the FIA and Ecclestone," said Briatore. "We don't have a problem with Bernie nor with Max or the FIA. We simply need to restructure everything in a sensible fashion."

The FIA then published a note, relating to previously proposed 2008 regulations, which many saw as another U-turn in taking a softer line on technology.

While the world body said it was responding to the opinions of fans, after a survey highlighted the importance of technology to them, the letter was also an olive branch to teams and manufacturers resistant to any 'dumbing down'.

The general tone was far more conciliatory than that of previous missives.

"If there is some support for such ideas, we should like to discuss possible action for 2008 as a matter of urgency," declared Mosley.

The manufacturers are now expected to reveal their own proposals for 2008 at next week's German Grand Prix in Hockenheim, with every likelihood that they will not be massively different from the FIA's.

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Series Formula 1
Author Alan Baldwin
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