F1’s new Strategy Group questioned for legality, manipulation

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The Telegraph’s Tom Cary wrote a story about the new Strategy Group in Formula 1 and AUTOSPORT has also offered their insight as well. It seems that the new Strategy Group is generating heartburn in F1 and some feel it could actually be illegal. Tom has the call:

“Formula One’s Strategy Group, the sport’s new rule-making body which meets for the first time on Monday, could well be illegal according to Force India’s Bob Fernley, who hit out on Friday at the “unethical, undemocratic” way Formula One is being run”.

The new Strategy Group replaces the Sporting and Technical Working Group in which all members were represented. Now, however, only 18 voting members are in the Strategy Group and that consists equally of the FIA, Formula One Management (FOM) and the top six teams. The teams are Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes and Williams (apparently for historic reasons) and Lotus F1.

The key here is that smaller teams will not be able to block any sweeping changes the group makes to the sport. While the F1 Commision will have to sign off on any recommendations the Strategy Group proffers, it still leaves some players in the cold.

AUTOSPORT’s Jonathan Noble offers additional information in the form of a quote from Suaber’s team boss, Monisha Kaltenborn:

“The danger in the whole system is that the way it is now, because of representation, we could have five teams against it, but we could not stop it,”

Perhaps the most pointed words came from a Strategy Group member themselves in the form of McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh. Mr. Noble has the quote:

“People are not choosing to legally challenge,” he said. “It’s running along, but at some point someone will become sufficiently agitated by an issue.

“Any individual, I think, could really start to challenge this through some legal route, and I think the sport would then be very untidy indeed. So hopefully we’ll pull that together.

“The commercial rights holder, the FIA and the teams have got to get together and agree on a Concorde Agreement. The quicker we do that the better. Before there’s a dispute.”

What I found interesting in this discussion is Pirelli’s choice of words concerning their demand for additional testing prior to 2014. What is seemingly a call for more testing turned into a bit of a question mark regarding the Strategy Group’s ability and function. Hembery said:

“We are trying to clarify right now, with the way this sport is structured going forward, the best way to make sure that we get the correct inputs. And it needs the ability to test and also make corrections after testing,” said Hembery.

“We don’t want to be held between individual interests. We want the sport to ask us.

“If the new Strategy Group is going to function, we want them to tell us what they want, and we will follow it.

“And, if changes are to be made, it should be approved by a body like that, that has a mixture of teams, FIA and FOM. That will be the ideal situation, otherwise you end up with lobbying and you fall between the interests of the teams.”

There is certainly concern as Pirelli are said to have contracts with the teams and Hembery keenly points out that the Strategy Group may not represent all the partners Pirelli have.

Either way, both articles by Messrs. Cary and Noble are insightful and they are a most instructive piece too so check them out. What do you think? Is this fair representation or is it a way to avoid the stagnant changes in F1 due to the need for unanimous decision-making? It was Todt’s desire to get the system for agile and not labor it down by teams who have are not the driving force of ‘the show’. Is it fair to have Marussia scuttling a change or regulation when all other teams are in favor? The Strategy Group eliminates that possibility.

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