News and views on motorsports

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Do you believe Paul Stoddart?

This headline is one of the most interesting ones I've read so far this week. Minardi, claims Stoddart, under the terms of the secret Concorde agreement, must write a cheque to the Scuderia every year "in recognition of their historical contribution." You what? Furthermore, he asserts that "an 18-man squad of Ferrari men actually wrote F1's new technical code."

Now the contents of the Concorde Agreement are known only to the participating teams in Formula 1, so I will not pretend to know whats in it. This revelation though is quite sensational, although a little perplexing. Ferrari of all people do not need more money from the little lambs like Minardi, they've got bags of it already. Actually, the amounts paid to the Scuderia are not disclosed but it still seems highly dubious clause in the Concorde Agreement if it does exist at all. I can't help but wonder all these years since the inception of the Concorde whether this really happened. Consider the teams who have come and gone. Teams like Arrows, Brabham, Andrea Moda, Fondmetal, Leyton House March, Dallara and even American teams like Lola Haas. They all had to pay for this? I would have thought someone like Haas would tell Ferrari and Bernie to kiss ass.

Now consider the other allegation Stoddart brings to public. That a group of Scuderia men writing the new technical code. This is easier to believe if you realise that Ferrari have such a great say in the regulations over the years. Look at the banning of rear brake steer, berrylium (I don't know the right spelling ok?), the insistence of V12 engines and refuelling in the mid 90s. All were at the behest of the Maranello concern. Consider also, further evidence from last year, when Ferrari in the midst of the in season testing ban, ran so called "aerodynamic evaluations" of the 2005 regulations at Monza, supposedly at the request of the FIA. One might argue couldn't the FIA have chosen some other team? Who? Oh I don't know, Williams perhaps? One might also argue that Ferrari are in the best position given their resources for this kind of "evaluation." Perhaps my memory is letting me down in this advanced age of mine but I've never known Formula 1 regulations of any kind needing any sort of "evaluation" in the past.

Well, if all this is true then perhaps it should be clear to everyone just why Ferrari are being isolated by the other teams. Alright, I'll perhaps give Ferrari the benefit of the doubt and say that yes, there are perhaps some sour grapes circulating the ranks. However, if you look at Ferrari's political machinations past and present, starting all the way from Enzo Ferrari himself to the current Luca/Todt era, then you can understand the discontent of the others.

Well, if these allegations are true then no wonder Ross Brawn is so supportive of the new rules. So too, is Jean Todt who "agrees with the 05 plan." A lot of other people and I have always believed the one engine per weekend rule in 2004 and the now one engine per two weekend rule is something that penalizes the other teams tremendously given Ferrari's surreal reliability. Never in history have I , or anyone else for that matter, ever witnessed reliability of this magnitude. Whilst Mercedes seem to be popping their engines with alarming regularity, a fact you can attempt to ask Kimi Raikkonen whilst dodging a right hook at the same time, Ferrari engines just go and on. And on and on Energizer Bunny style.

Yes, you all are probably thinking this is all fodder to a Ferrari basher as myself but as I said, I will acknowledge that these are Paul Stoddarts allegations with no direct evidence in support. So its whether or not you believe in this man.

After this story, comes the latest development in that Ferrari have committed themselves to the Concorde (or is it a new Concorde now) until 2012. Read this story on PlanetF1 here. Bernie Ecclestone of course would be totally chuffed by this. He's won the battle and one can say the war. With Ferrari on his side he doesn't need the rest. The side that wins Ferrari's support automatically wins the support of the vast majority of fans worldwide. However, would it be such a surprise given Ferrari's favoured status in the current world championship? A couple of years ago, I speculated in this Blog that Ferrari's membership of the GPWC was puzzling given the arse licking it receives from Bernie and Max.

Perhaps the best answer to that comes from Ferrari themselves who said that "the group had 'served its function' by securing a better commercial deal for everyone." Ah of course, a bargaining chip. An elaborate negotiation tactic between the rulers of Formula 1. The rest of the GPWC members of course are expected to fall in line, although there are no official words from the likes of Mercedes and Renault. Paul Stoddart however, "admitted that the agreement signalled an end to the plan to start a rival world championship, but not GPWC," according to this article on

Silly rules. Political intrigues galore. Secret Documents. Unjust and uneven application of the sporting code and technical regulations written by a team. This is what Formula 1 has degenerated into. Will I still watch it this year? Absolutely, but with a sense of stranger times up ahead. Formula 1 is changing. Like Galadriel, I feel it in the air and the Earth. If I were to distill these changes to a root cause I'd say it's all about the money. Its effect seems to rob the "sport" out of Formula 1 motorsport and instead of being a battle between drivers, its a behind the scenes battles that dominate the headlines these days. GPWC? It was all about getting more money. Ferrari, will get more of it now from Bernie. In addition, they'll still be getting it of poor blokes like Minardi. Well, according to Paul Stoddart the will.

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