This is it then. Friday May 29th. Deadline Day.
The prospective F1 teams of the 2010 championship have just over 12 hours (at the time of writing) to decide whether or not they will submit an entry… new and old teams alike. And if the existing teams are having a tough time making up their minds, just imagine how tough it must be for the new teams.
Let’s imagine for a moment that we are in Paul Jackson’s position. As head of iSport International you have a very tough decision to make. You currently operate a GP2 team on a rough figure of £5 million a season, and you have been working all winter on trying to find the backing to pull your annual budget up to the FIA recommended £30 million for a budget capped F1 entry.
A few weeks ago you were told this figure would rise to £40 million but that, regardless, you would still be afforded certain dispensations if you agreed to fall under that budget cap that would help you compete in Formula 1.
Now you’re not so sure. With just over 12 hours until the deadline for 2010 F1 entries shuts, there is absolutely no guarantee that the regulations as they stand today will stand by the time you enter the sport in 2010. Furthermore you don’t even know if Formula 1 as you know it, the Formula 1 with Ferrari, McLaren, Renault etc, will exist next year. You’ve had your entry mocked by the grandees of the sport and the very suggestion that you might consider putting an entry forward for Formula 1 cast aside as belittling the great name of the sport by some of those team bosses who would be your peers next year.
As the deadline looms, FOTA has apparently made suggestions to the FIA that next season should be run on a 100million Euro budget cap, on the provision of the sharing of technology between the bigger and smaller teams (similar to the current arrangement between McLaren and Force India,) with a budget cap of 45million Euros being brought in for the 2011 season. It’s not quite a reversion to customer cars for next year, but it’s as close as you’re going to get. It’s a one year deal, though. In 2011 you need to build your own car.
So do you risk it? Do you risk running a team on £30-40 million in 2010 when your rivals are spending three times that amount, on the off chance you’ll be able to compete in 2011? Sure, Bernie’s cash incentive will help, but with the financial world in crisis, is this the time to be taking such a huge risk? Afterall, teams like iSport, as teams like Williams, exist only to compete. They don’t make cars to sell them. They make cars to race them.
But maybe this has been FOTA’s plan all along. That by failing to reach a decision, they have effectively shown the FIA it isn’t as powerful as it thinks it is as with so much confusion over the 2010 regulations, there is the possibility that by midnight tonight only USF1, Campos, Williams and, we are hearing this morning, Prodrive-Aston Martin, will have submitted entries for the 2010 championship.
Knowing that it can’t run F1 on four teams, the FIA will have to either extend its deadline for entries, or slap fines on those who enter later on. Perhaps the FIA will be forced into a two-tier penalty scheme, whereby new teams are given a small financial penalty for late entry and those FOTA members who have caused this confusion by their reluctance to accept the FIA’s plans are handed a hefty fine.
Or will the FIA capitulate to FOTA’s suggestions and effectively smash any chance the new teams have got of competing?
Today’s the day when we learn if Max Mosley really is as politically strong-willed as his rhetoric has suggested. Can he really afford to stand up to the manufacturers? Can he really afford to lose them in favour of the promotion of the smaller independents?
If he stands his ground the small teams can not only afford to enter, they can afford to compete. If he capitulates now and gives in to FOTA, not only will the small teams stand no hope at all, but Mosley’s own position of power will have been seriously affected… if not terminally.