News and views on motorsports

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Ferrari Not A Manufacturer

GrandPrix.com highlights in this article a clause in the 2008 Sporting Regulations for the FIA Formula 1 that provides:

"43) ............. A major car manufacturer may not directly or indirectly supply engines for more than two teams of two cars each without the consent of the FIA. For the purposes of this Article 43, a major car manufacturer is a company whose shares are quoted on a recognised stock exchange or the subsidiary of such a company."

Now, I've always thought that Ferrari was a subsidiary of Fiat. True, but Ferrari is actually owned by Fiat Group. This group consists of Fiat Auto, Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Maserati among others. This means that within Fiat Group, Ferrari is a sister company of Fiat Auto. Fiat Auto in turn is the company that is floated on the Italian Stock Exchange, not the Fiat Group itself.

How nice and convenient for Ferrari. Ferrari make more profits than a lot of "major car manufacturers, " as defined by the Sporting Regulations. Taken as such, even the loathsome Proton would be considered a "major car manufacturer" by virtue of its floatation of the KLSE. Ferrari's profits despite its low volume far outsrips that of Proton and that situation is unlikely to change. And yet, the FIA says that Ferrari is an independent. And you just know what Max Mosley thinks about the distribution of money to the independents and manufacturers, don't you?

Now, according to article 43, a major manufacturer may not supply either directly or indirectly to more than two teams. Focus on the word "indirectly". If I read this correctly then it means a company such as Honda could not supply basic engines and parts to another company such as Mugen for preparation and supply to teams. This isn't out of the question of course and has happened in the past.

However, the regulations does mean that privately held specialist engine makers such as Judd, Cosworth and even Porsche can supply more than a couple of teams. If you believe that Max Mosley intends to rid or at least reduce the sport's reliance on the manufacturers for engine supplies, then the sporting regulations is heading towards it. Although you might say that if Porsche were to enter the sport then counting it as an independent is also suspect. Porsche is the most profitable car company in the world. So profitable that some speculate it will take over "major manufacturer" Volkswagen.

In other news, a meeting between Renault, Cosworth and Ferrari was held at Maranello with Max and cohorts in attendance, to discuss engine homologation proposals. Where were the rest of the manufacturers? Now I've always thought that it was Flavio Briatore who wrote the letter personally to the FIA with the homologation engine freeze proposal, albeit on Renault letterhead. I was under the impression that this was a personal opinion of Flavio's and not necessarily that of Renault. And yet, here are Renault in the meeting. Does this signal an exit from Renault from the GPMA? With Le Cost Cutter in charge at Regie, you can't put it past Renault Sport to want to try to reduce budgets and contain costs. But thats only if you believe that these new regulations will actually reduce costs.

2 comments:

patrick said...

What really puzzles me is this: Why does the FIA want to prevent any manufacturer supplying engines to more than 2 teams?

Qwerty said...

I really don't know. I think the FIA are simply trying to reduce the reliance of teams on major manufacturers for engine supply. I think the FIA is afraid that if and when these manufacturers leave the sport, a whole bunch of people will be left in the lurch.

Also perhaps this is another way of limiting any monies from the sport to manufacturers. But I'm really clutching at straws there.