Analysis: Fighting for the Future of Formula One

Plenty of people want to protect and preserve the spirit of Formula One, but agreeing on where it is and what it looks like seems to be proving difficult.

Analysis: Fighting for the Future of Formula One

Plenty of people want to protect and preserve the spirit of Formula One, but agreeing on where it is and what it looks like seems to be proving difficult.

The build up to the new season in Australia on March 9th has been dominated by rule changes, official statements and declarations of support and opposition to measures that either enhance or endanger Formula One's future according to one's viewpoint.

Melbourne will mark a welcome return to racing but the arguing will continue for many months to come after Williams and McLaren challenged the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) on Thursday.

Ostensibly the changes are all about cutting costs at a time of financial difficulty for some teams, improving the spectacle for the ordinary armchair fan after a season of Ferrari domination and getting Formula One back to basics.

But there is also a clash of wills going on between the major carmakers, who have threatened to set up their own championship, and the FIA. Like two countries that wage war against each other in the name of the same God, both sides have invoked the spirit of Formula One.

Ron Dennis and Frank Williams, the bosses of McLaren and Williams respectively, did so on Thursday in an open letter to FIA president Max Mosley informing him of their intention to go to arbitration.

"The changes you are proposing are against the spirit of Formula One, its restless drive for automotive excellence and its need to live on the technological cutting edge," they declared. "They seek to distance important stakeholders from the sport and could seriously diminish it as a spectacle."

Human Element

Others say the gizmos have got out of hand and Mosley last week played up the human element, speaking of Stirling Moss, of the late 'privateer' team owner Rob Walker and the irrepressible Eddie Jordan as also representing a spirit that the public wanted to see.

"Ron, (Ferrari's) Jean Todt and Frank Williams - all of them - would dearly love to finish first and second in every race and they will resist anything which stops them finishing first and second in every race," said Mosley.

"But it's not what I want and it's not what the public want and it's not what television wants. We're entitled to make rules which perhaps make life a little bit more difficult for them."

Mosley has argued before that independent teams are the future of the sport rather than carmakers who come and go.

Williams and Dennis, both of whose teams are linked to major manufacturers, accused Mosley of pushing a "structurally-flawed" business model and said his proposals for long-life engines risked alienating the carmakers.

"The proposals imply that the FIA is hostile to the manufacturers. This simply is not in the sport's best interests and needs to be addressed urgently," they said. "The manufacturers are committed enough to express a desire to take an equity stake in their commercial side of the sport. This indicates to us a welcome and significant change in their perception of Formula One.

"We cannot see that it makes sense to risk losing stable well-funded players and to attract or create less stable teams as replacements."

At the bottom of it all lies the Concorde Agreement, a secret accord between the teams, commercial rights holders and governing body that runs out in 2007 and governs the distribution of the sport's wealth.

"You have to understand the fundamentals behind this," said Dennis on Thursday. "We all have a very common passion for Formula One. We are not looking to damage Formula One, not looking to resist change. But only 23 percent of the entire revenues of Formula One are currently enjoyed by the teams.

"If there was a more balanced share of that money, then the smaller teams struggling in the current economic environment would be in much better shape."

shares
comments
Wilson gets his first taste of new car

Previous article

Wilson gets his first taste of new car

Next article

Minardi could buy chassis next year

Minardi could buy chassis next year
Load comments
The mid-season rule change that has left F1 teams scrambling Plus

The mid-season rule change that has left F1 teams scrambling

The technical directive issued by Formula 1 to reduce levels of automation in pitstops has given teams an unwelcome period of adjustment. Although safety was the primary goal, it has already had a significant impact on the title race and puts extra pressure on teams to deliver as the season reaches the business end

How the pandemic is continuing to bite F1 Plus

How the pandemic is continuing to bite F1

Uncertainty over the shape of the calendar doesn’t just vex the fans and the commercial rights holder. MARK GALLAGHER explains at how race promoters have been pushed to the financial brink

Hamilton at 100 wins: In his adversaries’ words Plus

Hamilton at 100 wins: In his adversaries’ words

Some 18 drivers have finished runner-up to Lewis Hamilton on his way to 100 wins. Three of those recall their battles with Formula 1’s centurion and give their personal insights into the seven-time world champion on his rise to unchartered territory

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2021
Russian Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Russian Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The 2021 Russian GP was decided by late-arriving rain that allowed some to climb and caused others to plummet. But the events which played out beforehand are equally significant when considering the all-important driver ratings

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2021
How Mercedes made the “blind faith” call that won Hamilton his 100 milestone at Sochi Plus

How Mercedes made the “blind faith” call that won Hamilton his 100 milestone at Sochi

Until rain turned the Russian Grand Prix on its head in the closing stages, Lando Norris was set to convert his first Formula 1 pole position into a maiden win. But having recovered well from being shuffled back at the start, Hamilton and his Mercedes team called the changing conditions spot-on for a landmark 100th F1 victory

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2021
Why momentum is again behind Australia’s aces Plus

Why momentum is again behind Australia’s aces

At the Italian Grand Prix Daniel Ricciardo turned around a troubled F1 season and, in F2, Oscar Piastri demonstrated once again that he is a potential star of the future. BEN EDWARDS weighs up the prospects of F1 having two Australian stars

Formula 1
Sep 26, 2021
The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers Plus

The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers

Michael Schumacher is the latest sporting superstar to get the ‘Netflix treatment’, with a special documentary film airing on the US streaming giant’s platform this month. DAMIEN SMITH has the inside track on how the filmmakers gained access to tell the human story behind one of Formula 1’s most publicity-shy champions - while the man himself, for obvious reasons, is in absentia… 

Formula 1
Sep 25, 2021
The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery Plus

The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery

For the second race in a row, Mercedes has ended the first day of track action on top. It’s in a commanding position at the Russian Grand Prix once again – this time largely thanks to Max Verstappen’s upcoming engine-change grid penalty. But there’s plenty to suggest all hope is not lost for the championship leader at Sochi

Formula 1
Sep 24, 2021