FIA: Those meddling kids and their ACEA!

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The FIA has taken a chapter from the Scooby Do book of foiled crime mantras by suggesting they would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling kids. Apparently the FIA feel everything was fine until a few malcontents in FOTA, not present at “constructive” FIA/FOTA meetings got involved. I guess by this they mean, Messrs. Howett and di Montezemolo?

Last Thursday, the President of the FIA met a delegation from FOTA consisting of Ross Brawn (Brawn GP), Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari), Christian Horner (Red Bull), John Howett (Toyota) and Simone Perillo (FOTA).

During the meeting FOTA acknowledged that the FIA wanted to encourage the introduction of new teams in the championship to maintain its vitality and economic viability in the long term. Agreement was reached on technical regulations for 2010 which offered assistance for new teams from the currently competing teams in several key areas.

It was also agreed that the objectives of FOTA and the FIA on cost reduction were now very close and that financial experts from both sides should meet at the earliest opportunity to finalise the details.

It was proposed by the FIA that any perceived governance and stability issues could best be eliminated by extending the 1998 Concorde Agreement until 2014 thus avoiding lengthy negotiations for a new agreement. This was well received by those present who undertook to report the suggestion to the other FOTA members.

The FIA believed it had participated in a very constructive meeting with a large measure of agreement. The FIA was therefore astonished to learn that certain FOTA members not present at the meeting have falsely claimed that nothing was agreed and that the meeting had been a waste of time. There is clearly an element in FOTA which is determined to prevent any agreement being reached regardless of the damage this may cause to the sport.

The FIA will publish shortly a detailed and documented account of the facts in its dealings with FOTA.

So it seems Max is closer than most people think or at least that’s his recollection of things and according to “certain” FOTA members, they are still miles apart. The whole thing is odd as I can’t imagine anyone finding common ground with an outlandishly terse, patronizing, vindictive and over-the-top FIA President. Just my opinion but like those pesky kids in FOTA; I seem to think there is little reason to trust the FIA at this point.

Equally the FIA felt compelled to launch a high-handed reply to the ACEA, who denounced the FIA governance of the sport, in which they couldn’t help themselves but to point out the reliance on government bailouts of the auto industry and suggest that the ACEA has their own bloody nose to worry about while the FIA’s regulations are doing nothing but helping the manufacturer’s save cash. Max can’t pass an opportunity to take a swipe, no matter how veiled, at anyone that disagrees with him. To be honest, he crafty slap-in-the-face replies are getting even more childish to be honest and I find his business decorum and acumen to be is a serious state of disarray. This latest response is high-handed and patronizing to the ACEA consortium and Max needs their endorsement more than they need his. Max always replies from a position of King-of-the-world and honestly I can’t recall the last time I have read something of his where he took the high road and was humble. His best defense from his embarrassing sex scandal has been a lavish and sophomoric offense.

The FIA is surprised that the European car manufacturers’ association ACEA should have rejected the FIA’s endeavours to reduce costs in Formula One. By contrast, the FIA strongly endorses ACEA’s call for urgent measures to return the automotive sector to health.

According to ACEA, “The European passenger car and commercial vehicle manufacturers are hit extremely hard by the financial crisis and subsequent economic downturn…Vehicle sales have dropped sharply and all automotive manufacturers and suppliers have scaled back production as a consequence.” ACEA describes the crisis facing its members as ‘devastating’.

Accordingly, the FIA’s objective is to enable manufacturers in Formula One to participate as economically as possible, while maintaining the sporting, technical and marketing benefits that the sport offers. By reducing their costs of competition in Formula One, ACEA’s members will be able to apply the much-needed savings to their core business, to finance payroll, working capital, capital investments, marketing programmes and dealer support. This will also reduce the industry’s need to seek funding from taxpayers or shareholders.

The potential savings are not immaterial: reducing the costs of the five manufacturers from the €400 million to €500 million recently reported by Ferrari to even a level of €200 million would release €1 billion to €1.5 billion a year back into the core businesses. Although a team like Ferrari could still spend as much as €200 million despite the FIA’s cost reduction programme, others will be able to compete successfully for as little as one third of this figure.

The FIA understands that Porsche did not support ACEA’s Formula One resolution and has instructed the ACEA secretariat to make this clear in response to any press enquiries.

The FIA would be happy to meet ACEA’s representatives at any time in order to discuss the FIA’s policies and to develop where possible a common set of objectives.

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