News and views on motorsports

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Ferrari will not agree

"I am sorry to say that what was presented is not sensible, This paper, you can just throw it away." - Jean Todt

Paul Stoddart has been the main mover and shaker in recent months with respect to a proposal to limit in season testing. You all know what happened. All the teams bar Ferrari held a meeting during the course of the Brazilian Grand Prix and in principle agreed to that proposal. Jean Todt and Ferrari claim that they were not invited to that meeting. One unknown source close to the teams upheld the belief that the decision not to invite Ferrari was deliberate and was intended to snub all the rest.

Now for those of you who don't know, Ferrari are opposed to in season testing. How could they not be. They own two circuits that they regularly use for testing, Mugello and Maranello. A testing limitation would obviously mean that these circuits would be under utilized. Perhaps they remember all too well the 2003 season where testing restrictions meant they had to endure much of the summer being humiliated by Renault and Williams.

In fact, I am myself opposed to in season testing for the simple reason that if teams get their cars wrong at the start of the season, they'll have to live with it till the end. Such a situation would produce enormously processional races during the summer as teams are unable to rectify the situation due to testing restrictions.

Jean Todt's comments regarding the proposal were very scathing. You can read it here on PlanetF1. I suppose a team like Ferrari does not tolerate being humiliated in that manner. They feel it is vendetta against them and quite rightly so. However, they should realise that its very hard on other teams when Ferrari, in concert with the FIA, likes to force them to dance to their tune.

Finally, in fact the teams have for once come to a mutual agreement amongst themselves after spending a whole season bickering about things that need doing. I suppose everyone knew that Ferrari would be the sticking point and the only way was to work together against them. But the FIA will not want to lose Ferrari. So I would seriously doubt that the FIA will listen to their proposals even though ironically, it is in line with Mosley's plans. The Ferrari name though is simply too big too lose and Formula 1 can't afford that. It can ill afford that especially in these times of economic uncertainty.

It is interesting to see what would happen in the next few months. Are we going to see a repeat of the FOCA - FISA wars of the early 80s? The stakes are so huge in the game these days that I doubt if teams would want to do that. Their corporate masters, the sponsors, would not stand for that I think or any action to bring the sport into disrepute. The most likely situation is that if Ferrari says no, the others will simply have to fall in line.

There will be ill will and resentment from the teams for sure but what do Ferrari care? They're in this to win and to use whatever facilities including their unlimited financial resources from Fiat to achieve that aim. Which means that if the other teams can't keep up, we'll just see Ferrari take all the championships until Michael Schumacher retires. And if they manage to replace him with someone like Kimi, then they'll just go on winning for many many years beyond that. In my estimation, the fact that the teams are coming to an agreement to reduce costs means that they simply cannot keep up with Ferrari's financial firepower and that bodes ill for the rest of us including the fans.

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