The lie of the land

So… a lot’s happened since my last post.

To be completely frank, with everything that started kicking off on Friday it seemed like a much better idea to let all the news wash in via email and on the ipod touch, and just sit by the canal with a beer, enjoying the British summertime.

As soon as the list was out, it was obvious that the war wasn’t over. Not by a long shot. So Friday was a day to chill out and and sit back and watch as all the statements and press releases came out.

Now, in the clear light of day, it’s become possible to take an overview of the situation… and once again it’s Max Mosley and the FIA that have come out on top.

The entry list released on Friday is a very clever ploy by Mosley. USF1 was no real shock, but the inclusion of Manor, and to a lesser extent Campos, was a surprise, particularly as the likes of Prodrive and Lola were not entered for 2010. Believed to have been two of the favourites, their non inclusion really was a shock.

As expected, Williams and Force India got their entries, and so too were Ferrari and the two Red Bull teams included on the list due to their specific contracts with the FIA to run in F1 until 2012. The other FOTA teams have until Friday to drop their conditions and enter. Ferrari and the Red Bull teams have sworn solidarity with their FOTA brothers.

So once again, the FIA has the upper hand. Once again it’s up to FOTA to make the concessions.

Mosley offered FOTA as much of an olive branch as he could last week, and they rejected it point blank. By doing so they now appear to be moving more and more out of touch. The fans don’t want the politics to ruin the racing, and with Mosley offering routes out and FOTA failing to take them, it remains to be seen how much longer fan sympathies rest with FOTA.

By standing firm Mosley’s position at the FIA is perhaps stronger now than at any point in the last decade. He is the man who has stood up for the FIA’s authority against the might of the manufacturers. To the FIA he’s a hero, and one whose re-election is now in little doubt. If FOTA wanted to make this about governance, all they have done is cement Mosley’s Presidency.

But back to the list for a minute… We can possibly expect Red Bull, Brawn and potentially McLaren to capitulate to the FIA’s demands this week as the three of them are teams that exist to race, not to sell cars. There’s every chance that by the new June 19th deadline only the auto manufacturers will remain in FOTA.

Mosley also knows that there’s a very real chance that two of those manufacturers will pull out at the end of 2009 anyway. So even if two out of the four manufacturers do drop their conditions, there could still be two free spaces in F1. At the most there will be four.

That leaves a large hole, but one that could easily be filled by Lola, Prodrive, Lotus Lite or N Technology. By keeping the trump cards of Lola and Prodrive in his pocket, Mosley has perhaps given us the strongest indication yet that he knows we will lose at least two F1 teams at the end of the season, because by keeping two of the strongest entries in his pocket, he holds the upper hand in the negotiations over the future direction of the sport.

So it’s not over yet. Ohhhh no.

The next challenge will be for FOTA to remain united. We’ve got another fascinating five days ahead.

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3 thoughts on “The lie of the land

  1. Thanks for telling all of us how Mad Max Mosley is a genius, and everything is going so perfectly for him. I would have thought that maybe he was worried about destroyng Formula 1, but apparently everything is going exacly to plan. Silly me.

    • Hi Kevin

      Thanks for your comment. I understand your frustrations, really I do. And believe me, the last thing I want to see is the destruction of Formula 1.

      But one thing I don’t think we should forget, and that I think FOTA maybe has lost sight of, is that Max Mosley is a very astute politician. In the simple light of politics, he is playing a very clever game.

      By FOTA’s own admission, this war is now no longer about the sport but about its governance. As such they’ve laid it on purely political lines. And by doing that, they’re playing to Mosley’s strengths.

      I love this sport and I want to see a solution. I don’t want to have to write about the politics every week. I want to get back to the sport. I’m frustrated too.

      But in the clear light of day, and whether we like it or not, it appears to me that the FIA President stands by far the better chance of coming out on top of this mess, than do the FOTA teams.

      But all of that can change. As I said, this week will be fascinating.

  2. Buxton:

    Sure it is possible that Max will come out on top… but once the dust has settled, what will he be standing on top of?

    It is entirely possible that you have insight into the fan base of F1 that I do not, but everything I have read (save a few posts like yours) indicate that the fans are fed up with the ‘astute’ political maneuvering of Max. Personally, I don’t care how clever Max is. If he continues as president of the FIA, we can expect more of the same.

    I understand that the cap serves as a means of leveling the playing field, but I can see the point the teams have in claiming that a system as outlined in the current regulations opens the possibility of protesting championship results on whether or not a teams books are up to snuff. Even if you agree with Max’s position, one must admit that having teams protest another team’s books would be a continuation of Formula (court room) 1.

    So the fact that FOTA has allowed Max to strengthen his position is irrelevant in light of the fact that the teams want stability. FOTA’s attempts at good faith discussions has only played into Max’s hands. But as it is in Max’s hands, it is his to ruin, and he is doing a great job at that.

    You are right. The next week will be very interesting. I honestly hope it will be worked out. If it isn’t, I wouldn’t mind seeing FOTA make a series that picks up teams that didn’t make Max’s list and that travels to all the venues that have recently been dumped by Bernie (US, Canada, France…).

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