Analysis: FIA is small teams' last hope in Formula 1 cost row

Formula 1's cost crisis could come to a head at the December meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council, with the way open for the governing body to take a stand

Analysis: FIA is small teams' last hope in Formula 1 cost row

Calls for help from Force India, Sauber and Lotus to bring down costs or raise income have fallen on deaf ears, with the big teams, Bernie Ecclestone and CVC all appearing to have little interest.

Force India team principal Vijay Mallya is a member of the WMSC and has pledged to ensure situation is brought up for discussion if there has been no movement by then.

DIETER RENCKEN on the latest cost row developments

"I am sure there is going to be a debate on recent events at the next WMSC in Doha," Mallya told AUTOSPORT.

"From Austin to today, F1 has been hogging the headlines following the sad disappearance of two teams. So it is clearly of concern.

"What my friends in the financial world cannot figure out is how a sport that generates $1.7 billion in revenue cannot sustain 11 participating teams."

Mallya knows that there is a chance he could be a lone voice in the WMSC but says he will do so because he is worried more about the future of the sport than the fate of his team.

"I am in a hopeless minority, but I can state my case," he said. "I will speak about what is good for the sport - I will not speak about Force India.

"I have been a corporate board director for 40 years and I know what conflict of interest means, so I will not champion the cause of Force India before the world council. I will say and express my views about what is good for F1.

"As the [FIA] president constantly reminds us: F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and is the pinnacle championship of the FIA, so the FIA should be equally concerned about the future of F1.

"I am sure everybody in the FIA will agree with me - it is not a question of teams just going to the commercial rights holder. Teams have also approached the FIA as well on issues like a cost cap to make it more affordable.

"So either you have the cost cap which then addresses the problems of the smaller teams, or the commercial rights holder makes a little bit of extra distribution of funds to the three smaller teams to cover the incremental costs that have been imposed.

"This new power train is more than double the cost of what it used to be, and that was an initiative that the FIA also blessed..."

FIA OPTIONS

Though president Jean Todt has yet to comment on the matter in public, the FIA did issue a statement at the United States Grand Prix stating that Caterham and Marussia's plight had highlighted potential problems with the "economic balance" of F1.

It said: "As such, the FIA, in close cooperation with FOM and the different stakeholders in F1, will continue to work towards maintaining the attraction of the championship and the equitable participation of the teams in it in the years to come."

There are several options open to the FIA.

It could seek to simply play a more active role in pushing for cost cuts, but could also chose to reject any regulation changes that are put to it following imminent F1 Strategy Group and F1 Commission meetings.

On a more extreme level, should the WMSC feel that F1 is not in a healthy state because of its financial situation, it could even elect to reject the 2015 F1 calendar until Ecclestone has sorted things out.

As one FIA source told AUTOSPORT recently: "If we are dissatisfied with the regulations proposed for what is, after all, our world championship, then why should we approve the calendar?"

For now, the hope is that things do not have to go that far and that some positive news will be forthcoming from Abu Dhabi this weekend, with the small teams having made another plea for talks.

If not, all eyes will be on Doha.

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Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble
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