As Formula 1 struggles to find answers on its future direction, regulation changes and financial sustainability, a critical meeting Thursday is set to be difficult conversation between the teams, FIA and Formula One Management (FOM).
The FIA and FOM hold six votes each with a single vote for each of last year’s top six teams. The reality is that the teams can be out-voted on issues if the FIA and FOM are on the same page. According to a report in AUTOSPORT, that may be coming as F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said:
“If Jean was happy to fall into line, then yeah, there would be no problem at all. We don’t have to talk to anyone.
“He’s happy to do that, and we have done that, but what he won’t do is really stand up and say ‘this is how it is’.
“With me, if I was a doctor and I knew I had to cut off somebody’s arm to save their life then there wouldn’t be a discussion.
“The problem is we have with this democracy in our sport, and in our case it’s even worse because you have people in competition with one another.
“Obviously you are not going to do anything to help somebody to beat you, so it’s very difficult.
“But I’ll speak with Jean and we’ll see what happens.”
This is a big development and a big hat tip to AUTOSPORT for unearthing the comments. It is important and could be a very large impact on the sport. CVC Capital chairman, Donald MacKenzie, will even be at the meeting so you know it is going to be a big one.
Many years ago, Ecclestone made a comment that, admittedly, at the time I put 80% of it down to Mr. E just being his classic self. He said, during the Mosley era of the FIA, that when the teams threatened to leave and start their own series, it was a joke as the teams would never be able to govern themselves or see eye to eye on the issues.
The sentiment at the time was that the sport was at a critical crossroads and I have wondered about that statement ever since. Sure, we can all know use the beauty of hindsight and sound like geniuses but that’s not what I’m speaking of. At the time, I wondered just how the teams would actually govern themselves given the level of competition and money involved.
Alright, call me obtuse. Tell me this is obvious and everyone knew it. Sorry, that dog don’t hunt because if that were the case, all the brilliant F1 journalists would have been writing about it and most were not save Nigel Roebuck if memory serves correctly. Now we find the teams as a critical part of the F1 Strategy group and the only thing they agreed on in 2015 was the driver helmet rule. That’s pathetic.
The reality is, I really started seeing Mr. E’s wisdom during the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) debacle. In the beginning, they made some good strides. That was when the issues were on generic initiatives that had no impact to any team on the grid. When things moved into the cost-cutting arena, Martin Whitmarsh (former McLaren man and then head of FOTA) found it nearly impossible to get any consensus.
It was then that I recognized that a breakaway series was nonsense and that Mr. E was right all along. Now we lament the benevolent dictator position the FIA president held as Jean Todt sold the power for a cut in the FOM revenue. I’m not denigrating Mr. Todt because that’s where the FIA gets most of its revenue so maximizing that is in the personal best interest of the FIA. Self-preservation is not only alive within the teams mind you.
F1 has reached a boiling point and now the FIA and FOM need to get on the same page and make the tough decisions for the sport regardless if all the teams like them or not. This still has big hurdles but it’s a start. Even Red Bull boss Christian Horner says it is time for a real shakeup of the series in order to save it. Is that sour grapes for a team that isn’t winning? If that’s what you believe then so be it but while he says that, Williams F1’s Rob Smedley cautions F1 on doing anything and why not? They’re running third in the championship and are making more money than they have in a long, long time. You start to see the self-preservation again don’t you?
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT