When FOTA announced late last Thursday night that it intended to set up a rival championship to F1 in 2010, there was one sentence which stood out to me and many of my colleagues in the Formula 1 press corps.
This series will have transparent governance, one set of regulations, encourage more entrants and listen to the wishes of the fans, including offering lower prices for spectators worldwide, partners and other important stakeholders.
It was a noble ambition, and one which bought FOTA the support of a loyal and emotional fanbase. Read any bulletin board online, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a pro-FIA voice. FOTA was standing up for itself against the supposed tyranny of the FIA and, in particular, the authoritarian, some might say dictatorial, style of governance of Max Mosley. It was something that resonated with the fans, and the promise of lower prices to attend races, one would assume also through a fairer pricing structure for the circuits to host FOTA races, and that the FOTA championship would actually listen to the fans, won FOTA unquestioned support from the many millions of people worldwide who breathe life into this sport.
And yet in yesterday’s press conferences and interviews, there was not one mention of this small but very important part of FOTA’s reasoning for threatening to set up a rival championship.
So what’s happened?
FOTA has got transparent governance, it has got one set of regulations. By agreeing to help the new teams it can also argue that it will encourage more entrants. But where was the mention of lower ticket prices, and of listening to the fans?
It would be a cynical man who said that FOTA had simply included this line in their weekend statement to get the fans on their side and show a global groundswell of opinion against Mosley. But with little mention of this factor yesterday, one has to ask… has FOTA forgotten this important pledge?
It is obvious now that FOTA’s main intention, regardless of how many times it denied it, was to get rid of Mosley. He, and he alone, stood in the way of a resolution to the issues that threatened to rip this sport apart and his departure will allow a new direction and the promise of a new system of governance. But the toppling of Mosley should not, and must not, be the be all and end all of FOTA’s victory. There is a chance to make change, and one hopes that FOTA does not forget its pledge to the fans.
FOTA is meeting today to discuss its future direction now that it has achieved its important victory over the 2010 regulations. It holds the upper hand in the political spectre of Formula 1.
We all await a statement from FOTA this afternoon and I, for one, hope that the many millions of fans who pledged their loyalty and support to FOTA, and gave it the confidence and backing to push forward on its recent path, knowing it was in the right as far as the fans were concerned, are represented in its vision of the future. I hope that FOTA does not forget the promise it made to the fans not one week ago.
Because regardless of the FIA and FOTA and the battle they have fought, it should be the fans that win.