News and views on motorsports

Friday, June 02, 2006

An Unsatisfactory Situation

Finally the FIA, read Max Mosley has finally decided to name the members of the Formula 1 commission. In the past, all teams had representation, together with a representative of an engine manufacturer, a tyre maker, Bernie, Max and a couple of promoters. Now he's decided to change the make up of the commission, insisting that the FIA has always been about countries. So now, we have representatives from various countries in the form of teams and promoters. Of course, Bernie and Max still retain their votes.

The commission members are as follows:

Austria : Red Bull Racing (Friend of Max)
France : Renault (Headed by a friend of Max and most likely to leave the GPMA)
Germany: BMW Sauber
Italy : Ferrari ( Big time friend of Max)
Japan : Honda
United Kingdom : Williams (on the fence but probably a friend of Max)

Grand Prix Promoters:
Australia (Friend of Bernie and by association a friend of Max)
Brazil (Would a promoter of a crime infested GP they really go against Max?)
Hungary (No way!)
Monaco (Hmmm.....)
Spain (I guess they all must be friends of Max)

Conspicuosly absent is the the second oldest and most successful team in Formula 1, McLaren. But really, even if they were called to the commission, what difference would it make? Look at the composition. BMW and Honda are probably the only dissenting voice in the commission. Even if all the teams came together, the combination of promoters, Max and Bernie would mean they would simply be shot down. And even if they all unanimously agreed a motion against Max, the dictator would have it overruled by the World Motorsport Commission, where they are all Max's spineless bitches. Yes, the championship may belong to the FIA but aren't the teams fielding just about all the money to compete and make the championship happen in the first place? This is some bullshit. In addition, as Racefax correctly pointed out, if Max Mosley claims that he wants to stand up for the rights of the independent teams, why aren't more of them on this so called commission?

Ideally, they should just dispense with this multilevel process of making the rules. At the moment, the process is majority vote at the Sporting Working Group, then another vote at the F1 Commission and finally the WMSC. Why the need for such a long winded process and why the hell should bloody promoters be involved in setting the regulations? Throw it all out. I'd rather have a single committee fielded by all the teams, all the independent engine manufacturers like Cosworth, additional votes given to a manufacturer for each non-works team they supply and all the tyre manufacturers (if more than one). And yeah, we can throw a couple of votes and seats to Max and Bernie to save face. All decisions made by simple majority. Now that'd get things moving along in a fair manner by the people who actually make the entire show happen. And of course, no prima donna Italian team could then throw its pompous weight around.

I'm starting to get really disillusioned about Formula 1. Sure, Formula 1 today is far removed from the one I started watching years and years ago. The inevitable march of time cannot be stopped and of course, things must evolve, that's just life. But all along, the spirit, the soul of sport has remained largely intact. But that spirit has started to leave. I think it happened a couple of years ago when the most restrictive set of engine regulations yet seen were proposed and is now being run. It happened when the single tyre per weekend regulation was introduced. It happened when the two race engine regulation were implemented.

In the FIA fan survey last year, the majority of participants indicated that technical innovation was a major factor attracting fans to the sport. But with these regulations we have today, to be made even more restrictive in 2008, where is the innovation going to come from? There is little or no scope for it. And even if geniuses like Adrian Newey (yes, I still believe in superstar designers) had an epiphany and produce something spectacular, the FIA have already indicated within the rules that such innovations will be banned.

I can't help but think that if aluminium honeycomb monocoques or spaceframes were still in use today and someone suddenly thought of using carbon fibre, you can bet that Max would have it banned. He'd have it banned under the heading of "cost," regardless of any safety or innovative advantages it would confer.

The media scream for greater levels of marketing and promotion for the sport. All very well. But just look at the product. I've always believed that if you make a superior product, marketing issues are strictly secondary. Or in the case of Google (when it first began), absolutely superfluous. I for one, was not attracted to watch the sport more than 20 years ago by stupid marketing gimmicks. I started watching because the cars were bloody quick, the drivers were superhuman and reading and discovering the technology behind it all was absolutely fascinating. The product was high tech and it had bags of character. Human character. Drivers walloped one another when they got miffed and everyone said what they meant and meant what they said. Team owners included. It was competition. It was battle. It was bloody fun to watch. Nowadays..... well, you know the drill.

So, we have crappy regulations that will soon get even crappier. And with Max ruling the roost and with everyone including the media so afraid of speaking up, absolutely no way to changing them. Go ahead then. Promote it to death. Formula 1 will need all the marketing gimmicks and gloss for it to sell.

Jeez, I think I've said all of this so many times, I'm getting so sick about writing about it as well. In all my years of watching this sport, I've never had so many bad things to say about it. The situation sucks with a capital "S".