Friday, June 19, 2009

All not well at the helm...


Is it the lunatic who is running the asylum? I am of course referring to the ongoing row in Formula 1. The biggest teams have threatened to pull out of the series for next year and set up a rival series. The background for this is the fact that the rule makers at the FIA, Federation Internationale Automobile, wants to put a budget cap on how much the teams can spend in a year. FOTA, which is the Formula One Teams Association, and represents all but two teams, Williams and Force India, have said that this will not be workable, and I must say that I agree. If you decide to run with the budget cap you will get greater technical freedom to develop your car and in addition to this you could run your engines at a higher rev, thus creating a two tier system.

Imagine that Manchester United were told that they would have a cap on how much they can spend on their players, Tottenham decided that they did not work under the same cap, so when they meet Manchester United would start with 1 – 0 up…it would be unworkable. Likewise drawing on the same scenario, if all teams decided to start a new league, what could the Premiere League do…call in Scunthorpe United to fill the boots…I don’t think so…it come down to the fans…what the fans want to see is what the fans will see…

I started to follow F1 back in 1987, I never miss a race and to my delight neither does Mrs E. we are two different fans of the sport, she like to watch the racing and when it is over she switches off. I am more of a techno buff, when the racing stops I read my magazines, follow the development of the cars, I like the engineering side as much as I like the racing. You see I get excited when I read that a 2.4 litre V8 engine develops 780bhp at 18,000rpm, a car inclusive of driver weighs 605Kg and accelerates from standing still to 100km in 1.7sec.

I don’t like it when some grubby little pen pusher behind a desk at the FIA decides that the current series needs to change because new teams should be able to join. This was all due to the backlash of Honda pulling out of the series. They famously spent a huge amount of money on development, didn’t foresee the credit crunch and pulled out. Still under contract the FIA panicked as it worked out that they could not stop the teams pulling out due to the global recession. The FIA tried but failed to get re-assurance from car manufactures, not the F1 teams, that they would stay in F1 (Mercedes McLaren, BMW Sauber, FIAT Ferrari, Toyota, Renault). So someone came up with the solution to cap the budget invite new teams which would establish themselves thus saving the sport…

What it didn’t count on was Brawn GP, born out of the ashes of Honda, OK fair enough that Honda had spent a HUGE amount developing the car, but still money was needed to get the car to the race tracks, drivers to drive them, mechanics to fix them. They have shown that with little resources they managed to put the team together find the money and now they are the toast of the F1 circuit. They got help from Mercedes (engines) offer of help from Ferrari and went out there and won races. No one really knows how long they will be able to stay in F1, but it looks promising.

F1 racing is not everyone’s cup of tea, it is therefore not open to all car manufacturers due to cost. I agree that ensuring the future of the formula will be down to cost but a huge step was taken in that direction for this season, none of the big hitters are moaning because they are not winning, well apart from Hamilton, but hey he will have to learn to loose, it is important so you can savour the moment when you win.

Finally, a lot is being said about the split, “look at Indy Car” former world champion Damon Hill says, “it created two formulas Champ and Indy light and thus allowed Nascar to take over as the main audience motor sport”. I am not sure that this will happen in this case, we already have two series here, A1 GP and Formula 1. I strongly believe that a new FOTA series would just eliminate an F1 series. The fans, who follow the sport, likewise the sponsors who rely on viewers, would prefer top teams with different engines fighting it out on some of the historic race tracks around the world, and if the media back them up. I hope the BBC have a clause in their contract allowing them to pull out and back a new series should the FOTA threat go ahead…

It appears to me that the days of Max Mosley, President of FIA is finally numbered…

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