News and views on motorsports

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Teams Rage Against The Machine

Hot on the heels of Shoichi Tanaka and Ron Dennis, Williams have followed suit and expressed his dismay at the current state of grand prix racing. Frank quotes: "The prevailing atmosphere in the sport at the moment stinks.... It's just getting worse and worse." Lots of hatred going around in the sport according to Frank.

Furthermore, Williams lambasts Max Mosley in this story on PlanetF1, branding him "autocratic and non-consultative." What really has got the manufacturers up in arms is the two weekend engine rule, new for 2005. This regulation was introduced late last year. As was the finalization of the rules for aerodynamics. This the manufacturers claim cost them millions in redesign. All of the engine suppliers had designed engines to last a single race weekend.

That rules change is not at issue. The point is the suddenness of rule changes, in a seemingly arbitrary fashion, with little or no consultation to those who spend hundreds of millions on the sport. All this as Patrick Head quite rightly points out, from a man who claims to want to push costs down.

Its all adding up to a potentially explosive situation. Don't think so? Let's recap on the various actions and allegations of various team bosses in the past few months.

1. Paul Stoddart believes that the rules are written by a technical team at Ferrari. He further alleges that teams have to pay Ferrari to acknowledge their so called "historical contribution" to the sport.

2. Honda boss Soichi Tanaka flat out says that the championship is fixed in Ferrari's favour.

3. McLaren are even considering leaving the sport come 2008, citing a lack of transparency, fairness, appropriate governance and stability. Furthermore, Ron Dennis in this story believes that Ferrari "should not be put into a position which provides them with the ability to control change or receive disproportionate amounts of income compared to the other teams."

4. Williams thinks the situation stinks and Max Mosley's style is "willy nilly."

5. McLaren in this story on slams the new tyre rules as costing them more in testing costs.

6. Renault too have expressed concern in this story. Renault's chairman asserting that costs must come down and rules must be 'stable.'

The key points of all these allegations and concerns are rule stability and fairness. Max Mosley's reply, like similar to that of Ferrari is that the other teams are "whinging."

I believe teams have in the past have had all sorts of complaints but these complaints have always been low key. Now, team bosses aren't exactly mincing their words and they all seem to be spoken in unison. That the Japanese, always known for their discretion, can come out and openly criticise is a sign of the seriousness of the current situation.

Bernie has fought hard to win Ferrari over. But the price to pay may just be his prized possession i.e. the championship itself. Ferrari have already committed to the new Concorde agreement and their position is fixed. And so is Bernie's promise for more share of the total revenue.

You might think that its now up to the other teams to take Bernie's offer. They aren't in a hurry and I don't think they will. This editorial on PlanetF1 just might be prophetic.

Personally speaking, and if you've followed this Blog for sometime you'd know, I think it really is a time for some major changes in the sport. David Richards and Eddie Jordan may think that only Bernie can save the sport and ensure its long term future. The manufacturers they claim cannot see past their short term interests and soon enough will leave when the sport does not serve their purpose. Point taken but at the moment, neither their short term interests nor long term ones are served under Bernie and the FIA. Competing in Formula 1 is tough enough without the cronism and silly technical governance.

Never mind the teams, the fans are also getting a damned raw deal by FOM and FIA. I completely disagree with Eddie Jordan and David Richards, if they suggest that Bernie and Max are good for the fans in the long run. If their plans come to fruition, Formula 1 will be a non sensical bore shown only on pay per view cable TV. One lap qualifying, two weekend engines, single tyres per race, who's bright ideas were these? There's more in the pipeline like single brake suppliers, zero wings etc. Let's not even mention the fact that new circuits are designed by an FIA/Bernie appointed idiot who's so in love with turning in tight circles.

Bernie's greed and Mosley's incompetence need replacement. And soon. What is needed is a new open framework and a new championship, run by some fresh blood.

No comments: