News and views on motorsports

Friday, April 30, 2004

Ferrari quits?

Nooooo!!!! Good god. Who would there be to hate? OK so I believe that Ferrari is more like a political party than a sporting team. But quit??! In this story by Autosport Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo revealed that quitting "could be an idea."

This is so unfair. The battle between Ferrari vs. the rest is like the battle between Morgoth the enemy and the Valar and the Elves in Tolkien's Silmarillion. Should they decide to quit after 2007 we would be robbed of an on going epic battle. Sure I hate Ferrari's guts but they do provide the drama in Formula 1. I'm going to miss seething everytime they win and absolute rejoice whenever they lose.

Well, to be sure they keyword here is "could." They could quit but it is by no means sure. 2007 is still about 3 years away. So thing might settle before then. At issue really is the battle between the teams and SLEC for greater share of revenues from Formula 1. The manufacturers have their point of course. They invest so much money in the sport they do deserve more returns out of it. One Bernie Ecclestone could argue that in fact the exposure they gain worldwide to an audience of more than a billion viewers should be all the return they need. But times are tight and budgets are inflating sky high and I'm sure the manufacturers want more relief. And they are the ones providing the show. Without them, Bernie has no circus.

Luca believes that the manufacturers are not serious in establishing the alternative Grand Prix World Championship. They will either choose to stay or they will leave grand prix racing altogether. A GPWC is not something they will choose to establish. By his reponse I think Ferrari wants a GPWC and if they don't get it then quitting Formula 1 is a real option. I think they have more reason to want this. For one Ferrari are the most recognisable brand name in the world. More so than Coke for instance. I guess they could argue they add the glamour to Formula 1. And they would be right. Fiat and Marlboro pour in some US$400 million a year to the Ferrari's Formula 1 operation yearly. This figure is increasing. Fiat cannot afford to do this forever without getting some cash returns from TV rights.

A few months ago the GPWC was effectively dead until talks between the teams and Bernie fell through again. Now it's back on again. Heck, I'm really on the side of the manufacturers. Bernie (and Willi Webber) ought to just burn in hell for their boundless greed. Bernie has made Formula 1 more like a corporate hell hole than sport. All the corporate sponsor ass licking really makes me sick sometimes. The drivers have become these mindless corporate drones, all fake smiles, all the professional corporate posturing. He is slowly choking the spirit of the sport.

When I first watched Formula 1 some twenty years ago I felt that it was a racing event. Sport, racing, the BATTLE (as the Japanese would say). Now its a corporate day out. The proportion of corporate drones who have no knowledge of racing at all in the pits these days have increased tremendously. I'd rather watch Touring Cars or the Japan GT Championship. They have a pure racing feel to it. They're watched by real racing fans and participated by people who are pure racers, and they raced on REAL racing circuits. Not these ugly Hermann Tilke hairpin fest. Sepang, Bahrain, Shanghai. God damn they suck.

Funny thing is Bernie was once a team owner. A racer. But then after establishing the Formula One Constructors Association (FOCA) and then Formula One Administration (FOA) and also FISA vice president he's gone downhill. The teams themselves are pretty tired of his greed. Even Ferrari of all people. Even the political cronies are sick of it. That ought to tell you something.

I really hope Formula 1 survives in the long run. And I hope Ferrari will still be there for me to hate. I hope Formula 1 returns to its root as being the ultimate motorsport event. Keyword: MOTORSPORT not CORPORATE.

No comments: