FIA president, Jean Todt, may have fallen short of Ferrari’s desires regarding the fixed-cost engine concept with the Italian team using its historical veto power to thwart the notion of capping what manufacturers can charge smaller teams for their engines—in this case, Todt felt 12 million euros was sufficient.
Ferrari disagreed and vetoed the notion which has now set in motion a power struggle in F1 between the FIA and the manufacturers with Formula One Management (FOM) in the mix and antagonist and protagonist alike. Todt cautioned Ferrari of the use of its veto saying:
“It was a disappointment when Ferrari decided to use its veto right on the price of limitation, for the customer teams, so I have been trying to see what could be an option,”
“A veto is like having a gun in the pocket, so you must be careful when you use it.”
Ferrari’s smoking gun is a shot but was the FIA’s engine cost-cap the first shot fired in the war over F1? Ferrari may have a gun as a hold-out weapon but the FIA has the regulatory oversight, power and control to manipulate the series in ways that could seriously damage or limit teams in their total scope and potential achievements in F1.
When the teams formed Formula One Teams Association (FOTA), there was little doubt in then president Max Mosley’s mind that a threatened break-away series would never succeed given the FIA had purview over it from an EU Commission competition standpoint and that Bernie Ecclestone had the race contracts with the venues. The teams may feel they have more leverage now with two teams in particular very confident with the power units they have created. It places them in very rare air thus the desire to bring in a competitive, affordable alternative engine and provide serious freedom in which to achieve on-par competitive performance against the current specification power unit.
The FOM didn’t make it out of Todt’s assessment of the situation, however, as the Frenchman and former Ferrari boss said:
“It starts with a completely unbalanced distribution of the revenues, and here we cannot do anything,” he said. “I would hope that the teams will get access to the best revenues and will be able to pay an affordable price for the engines as customers. “If we are not able to get this solution, we need to find another solution because otherwise the risk is that teams go bankrupt,”
I may be wrong here but I will say it seeme that Todt’s main goal with his new power unit was to lure manufacturers and now he finds himself in the unenviable task of picking up Max Mosley’s champion baton to defend the privateers. The baton had been left gathering dust in the FIA HQ since 2009 where Max dropped it at the end of his tenure.
The historic veto power Ferrari holds was a creation of Enzo Ferrari back in the 80’s as the British teams were in a serious battle with the manufacturer, namely Ferrari, and winning. Ferrari felt unfairly represented and outnumbered by the garagistas.
Now, before you get all dismissive of this veto power and claim it’s nonsense, you need to find some sensitivity to the history of the sport and what has transpired. I often get amused at how, as time moves on, the current generation loses their line of sight to just how pivotal certain events are in history. There is a very legitimate reason Enzo demanded this and while you could argue that it is a feature that has outlived its purpose, that’s a different situation altogether but don’t marginalize why it exists or dismiss it out of hand because you don’t like its impact today. Do a little reading on the history of the sport and it will become more clear as to why it exists.
Like history of the past, we also can’t dismiss your opinions on the efficacy of such a situation. Let’s be honest, history moves on and we are creating history as we speak. There are things that should remain and there are things that will change and perhaps Todt’s warning is a foreshadow of something yet to come.
Reading Max Mosley’s bio I can tell you that I have a new respect for what Jean Todt is going through and the demands of the position. He is a different person than Mosley but the demand of the job is no less and who knows, Todt may surprise us yet.
The cost-cap for the engine supply is something that should have been instituted at the very beginning if F1 wanted to use such incredible technology. There was no way the small teams were every going to afford it. I’ve advocated the same notion many moons ago having become fed up with the current power unit and its dire impact on the sport. Let’s see what becomes of the two-tier engine format concept but with Sauber already against it, it may not be a slam dunk by any measure.
Hat Tip: Eurosport