Briatore seeking solution…at any cost

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Flavio Briatore, who has surprised me this week with Renault’s announcement that they join Ferrari in leaving the series in 2010 if the regulations set forth by the FIA are not changed, has spoken to Gazzetta dello Sport (via Autosport) regarding the need for the teams and the FIA to find a solution no matter the cost. Speaking of all the teams leaving the sport, Flavio said:

“It is a remote hypothesis that everyone wants to avoid. We are living in a difficult moment and we must find a solution at all costs. I hope Mosley and his men will mend their ways, in order to start over in full harmony.”

The main issue is not only the regulations that have created a two-tier system for 2010 but the manner in which they were forced through:

“The teams are F1 and the international federation should simply be the referee, the rules should be written by us, they can’t be imposed by Max without him speaking to anyone,” he explained. “That’s an unacceptable way to work.

“The FIA throws at us a new thing every week: we’ve gone from medals to diffusers with embarrassing thoughtlessness. We can’t go on like this. We must protect the work of our employees. It must be clear that we, Ferrari, and the others have no intention of breaking with FIA. We want to be there, to participate, and to preserve the future. We are setting logical conditions to Mosley.”

A very interesting part of his comments regards the addition of new teams to F1. While most of the F1 fan base have been receptive to smaller, new teams entering F1 due to the lure of Max Mosley’s budget cap, low-cost system; the manufacturer’s may have a different opinion.

I am not beyond understanding their perspective but it had not occurred to me that they would view this with a suspect eye. Then again, if they are being looked at for support of the small teams one can understand the issue. Perhaps this is why Mosley intended on creating an engine and chassis supplier option so the manufacturer’s would not have to support the small teams and the series truly could be non-reliant on the manufacturers. There is little doubt in my mind that Mosley believes the manufacturers are the reason F1 has gotten out of control with the costs associated with the sport. Flavio said this about the issue:

“We don’t accept F1 to be distorted by a set of rules that has no reason to exist,” he said. “The arrival of new teams that lack the characteristics to be admitted to a world championship is not acceptable either.

“Maybe he’s [Mosley] had the support of some small teams and he got excited. However, what will happen with the championship he had the World Council voting for, is that the teams with the capped budget will be ahead of the ones that didn’t accept that limit, thanks to more technical and design freedom.

“That can’t be. That way you’d tarnish not just the image but also the value of who invests money in F1. A world championship with two sets of rules doesn’t make sense.”

It is difficult to know what is happening behind closed doors but one can judge the actions and words of the players. It seems Max Mosley has made it plainly clear that manufacturers are not a priority to him in designing the new regulations and seeking a Spec series for F1. His amalgamated engine concept for a lump to service multiple series within the FIA realm is evident of his desire to neuter the motorsport industry of its high profile manufacturers and products. Tony Purnell, FIA Technical Consultant, stated that some smaller companies have been created to provide systems to F1 such as KERS but some large companies will suffer should Max continue down this road.

In the end, Flavio is not taking the tack I thought he would. IT is not that I am shocked he is drawn a line in the sand but keep in mind a couple points regarding the Flav:

He is not an engineer who worked his way to the top of a team and is now running the F1 efforts for a manufacturer. Flavio is a businessman and always has been. A businessman doesn’t look at F1 quite the same way an engineer or technical person looks at business. Martin Whitmarsh, Stefano Domenicali, Pat Symonds and Ross Brawn (to an extent) are certainly men who have worked their way through F1 via the technical or engineering side. John Howett and Flavio are two men who have actually worked on the sales and business side of industry. Yes, Ross, Martin and Stefano do wear sales hats but in the end, they are technical people with engineering backgrounds and approaches to business. There is a difference.

It is an interesting position for three business men like John, Flavio and Luca to be the first ones to say adios to F1 should they not feel the playing field is correct for their investments. Bernie can understand this because he too is a businessman with a product to sell. Question is; can the law-talking guy Mosley understand?

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