News and views on motorsports

Friday, January 21, 2005

GPWC Update

Just as a follow up to my previous article (Do you believe Paul Stoddart?, I point you to an article by Andrew Davies of PlanetF1. Read it here. The article says it all and reinforces my comments in my previous article.

This might just end up as another version of the FISA/FOCA wars of the early 1980s. In those days of course FOCA, the forerunner to the Formula One Administration (FOA) and headed by Bernie Ecclestone represented almost all the other teams save Ferrari, who sided with the FIA. The FIA President in those days of course was the infamous Jean Marie Balestre, who still sits on the FIA board. These days of course, Ecclestone's mate, Max runs the FIA and hence are in full accord with the FOA and of course Ferrari.

Will anyone trust Ferrari now? The GPWC was meant to serve the interests of all teams collectively. Ferrari used it in my view as a bargaining chip. Now they have what they want, the GPWC has in the words of Ferrari, "served its purpose." Well, their purpose at any rate. The other teams collectively still represent a powerful group. Without them of course, there is no World Championship. As Andrew Davies points out, who would Ferrari race against?

But on the other hand, the other teams also have commitments, large substantial commitments to sponsors to race in the world championship. Without these sponsors, those big, expensive windtunnels and state of the art construction facilities will not be paid for.

Personally speaking, they should just stick to the GPWC and form their own championship as they originally planned. Otherwise its like gambling in a casino. The house always wins. The house in this case is the FIA/FOA/Ferrari triumvariate. Whether its winning on the track, running to rules set by the house or obtaining the lions share of the revenues, the rest simply have the odds stacked against them. But if everyone stopped going to the casino, eventually they'll fold.

I think the GPWC members now have to take that brave step that Tony George of Indianapolis took when he set up the Indy Racing League in America, taking with him the jewel in the Indycar crown, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Except of course, the GPWC doesn't have the equivalent jewel. But if they did set up a rival championship, then I think a lot of people would still turn up to watch it. There are still many great places they can race at as I outlined in my previous article here. They can still come together to cut costs. More importantly, they'd get all the revenues from the sport.

Many TV commentators and fans have pointed out that if you removed Ferrari (or at least Michael Schumacher) from the championship in the previous years, you'd find some fantastic racing amongst the rest of the field. Renaults versus Williamses and McLarens. These mid field battles can be enthralling, if you manage to catch a glimpse of it when the cameras are not focused on Ferrari. There would be plenty of that. At the end of the day, fans and spectators are more interested in seeing these great battles rather than a red car always out in front.

I do hope the rival GPWC championship does still continue. If it does it will only happen in 2008. In the meantime, between now and then, I do hope someone at least will beat Ferrari on the circuit and show them that despite the odds being so stacked against the rest, the house can be beaten.

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