Archives for posts with tag: FIA

SLS 63 AMG, Safety Car (C197) © Mercedes Benz

Safety cars, delta times, when to pit, who gets a penalty, who doesn’t get a penalty, when should we race, when should we slow… it’s all getting a bit silly, isn’t it?

The thing is, it’s actually a very easy problem to solve. Which probably means that the solution Formula 1 eventually comes up with will be even more convoluted than the original regulation it was intended to clarify. But it needn’t be.

Here’s my idea to solve the problem. And it really is simple…

As soon as the “safety car deployed” message is shown on the race control screen, the pitlane will be closed to all cars, other than those carrying substantial damage which risks either the car in question or poses a potential danger to others on track. With refuelling no longer an issue in Formula 1, there is no longer the prospect of anyone running out of fuel and thus there is no longer a requirement for the pitlane to be kept open under the safety car. This was the only reason that closing the pitlane for safety reasons under the safety car had been rethought in the first place.

Once the safety car has been deployed, the track will go under full course yellow and all cars will be limited to running at a maximum speed of 200kph. This can be easily monitored at race control, could easily be stuck to with a pitlane speed limiter style button on the steering wheel, and will take out the need for the confusing and overly complicated delta time scenario.

When the safety car leaves the pits, it will wait by the side of the track or circulate slowly until it picks up the race leader. All cars will drive straight past, without waiting to be waved through until the leader is picked up. They will know when to pass and when to stay behind the car with a simple system of lights – let’s say for the sake of argument a blue light will flash to indicate to the drivers that they should pass, changing to the orange/yellow light as and when the race leader pulls into view. Failing that, the safety car will simply wait to leave the pits until the lead car is entering the final corner.

And that’s pretty much that.

It’s not rocket science. It’s just common sense. Pure, simple and uncomplicated. Race order is maintained, nobody gets an advantage, so nobody should be able to complain and Charlie can concentrate on race incidents rather than having to waste his time sorting out safety car transgressions which needn’t be and shouldn’t be as big an arse ache as they currently are.

The Durango 95 purred away real horrorshow...

Just when you thought you’d seen the last of bizarrely far-fetched F1 bids, this week’s news that Durango has applied for the vacant 13th grid slot for 2011 should have you spitting out your cornflakes.

For all of you fellow Stanley Kubrick fans, I’m afraid to inform you that the Durango of which we speak is not the Durango of “A Clockwork Orange” fame. The Durango 95 car stolen by Alex and his droogs in the movie was, in fact, an M-505 Adams Brothers Probe 16, of which only three were ever made.

No, the Durango of which we speak is the Italian former GP2, F3000 and Endurance team which has, in its past, achieved a relative level of success.

Why then, should I consider this bid to be somewhat fanciful? After all, isn’t GP2 supposed to provide the future of F1? Well yes, it is… only, Durango is no longer a part of GP2 having been forced out of the championship when it ran out of cash.

Durango’s fall from grace last year hit its peak on September 5th, when Il Gazzettino reported that Durango was being investigated for criminal tax evasion and fraud, and that it had been using a system of companies which constantly changed their names to issue bills with inflated figures in order to reduce costs and lower the payable tax. Indeed, it was claimed in Il Gazzettino that the system put in place at Durango had seen unreported revenue of more than €12 million, false invoicing amounting to €11 million, unpaid tax of €3 million and a reduction of base tax to the tune of €16 million. All of this came, so the article said, at the end of a one year investigation.

Durango’s time in GP2 was not short of controversy. From as early as Imola 2006 the team was in hot water for contravening regulations by manufacturing their own parts rather than using Dallara’s spec equipment. In Imola it was only the car’s skirts that were the issue, but when Lucas di Grassi’s rear wing fell off at Silverstone later that same season, Durango was excluded from the weekend and sent packing from the paddock after it was discovered the team had sought to cut corners by conducting a botch repair job on structural parts of the car, rather than returning those parts to Dallara for an official repair.

Talk of Durango’s corner cutting came to the fore once again just last season when Stefano Coletti was involved in a huge shunt at Spa, when his GP2/08 went straight on at Eau Rouge. A paddock insider that weekend whispered to me that Coletti’s steering column had “snapped like a piece of balsa wood,” although I could find no evidence to substantiate this claim from anyone at GP2 or Dallara.

When the championship arrived at Monza for the next race however, Durango only had one car at its disposal and there were two contrasting reasons given for this, depending on who you spoke to: namely that Durango didn’t have the money to repair the car, or that the car was so littered with botch repairs that Dallara had impounded it as being too unsafe to use. Again, I found it impossible to find an “on the record” response as to which of these was the accurate version of events but rumours that it was the latter refused to disappear.

The team was ultimately forced out of that weekend and did not race at all.

Stefano Coletti - Spa 2009 © GP2 Media Service

Durango missed the final two rounds of the 2009 Main Series, missed the entirety of the 2009/2010 GP2 Asia series and will not compete in the 2010 Main GP2 Series. They have, however, found the funds to launch an F1 team… or so Durango’s boss Ivone Pinton told the team’s website.

“After the mishaps of last season we went into action full force to seek new partners for our racing activities. It did not take long to realize that the interest could be raised only when there was talk of Formula 1, therefore we have pushed in this direction and today I can say that, enter the maximum formula, we have the support of two large international groups. So while remaining with their feet on the ground, because for now it is only a serious attempt, I would say that after working many years to train future champions, now is the time to work hard to push to the top as the Durango team. ”

While I understand that it might be easier to drum up support for an F1 effort than a GP2 effort owing to the much higher levels of exposure in F1, what I do not understand is how a team which could not make a go of GP2 could even consider that they have what it takes to make a go of F1. After the USF1 debacle, and the StefanGP mess, the FIA will likely be wary of any and all 2011 proposals, and the due diligence on Durango is likely to be even more extensive than on most, given the very public financial issues which affected the squad so recently. Plus I’m pretty sure that if the team has found some money, then the first knock on their door is going to come from GP2 for unpaid bills and the serious fines that they will be contractually obliged to pay for two missed races and two entire missed championships.

Formula 1 cannot afford any more embarrassment from new teams falling by the wayside. That Campos / Hispania made it to the grid is nothing short of a miracle, and the aforementioned USF1 / StefanGP balls up did little for the sport’s image. As such, I wonder how seriously Durango’s bid will be taken.

When we have seen the likes of Prodrive, Lola and Epsilon passed over in favour of unknown entities which failed to make the grade, you can see why Durango would chance their arm. What have they got to lose?

But in all honesty you’d have to say that, regardless of the financial partners they might have got on board, so incredible does a Durango bid for F1 seem that it almost makes StefanGP look like a serious operation.

Jean Todt © FIA

Praise the lord and pass the ammunition. A brace of changes lie in store for Formula 1 next season, as Jean Todt made good on his election promises and helped push through some much needed alterations to the manner in which the sport will be run in the coming years at today’s FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting.

First up, a new points system. 25 for the winner, 20 for second, 15 for third, 10 for fourth then 8, 6, 5, 3, 2, 1 going down to tenth place. The increase in the number of drivers scoring points reflects the increase in grid size and is, frankly, an excellent idea. The points differential for the top three also does what Bernie Ecclestone had wanted to do through his bonkers medals idea, which was to make a win mean considerably more than second place and thus improve the prospect of somebody pushing that extra bit harder to overtake.

Second, and long overdue, Mr Todt has managed to unite consensus within the WMSC to overhaul the outdated and ineffectual stewarding process which had thrown up so many dodgy decisions over the past few seasons. Spa 2008 anyone?

Here’s the official blurb:

A smaller permanent group of F1 Stewards will sit with experienced former F1 drivers to provide a permanent panel of three FIA stewards, together with one steward representing the National Sporting Authority, to deal with F1 at each Grand Prix.

There will no longer be a non-voting Chairman and each group of stewards will elect their own Chairman amongst themselves for each race. Utilising video and radio exchanges they should aim to reach decisions very efficiently.

The current observer programme for F1 stewards will continue, and training, distribution of decisions, and an annual meeting will be encouraged to raise the quality of decisions in this permanent group.

What does that mean? Basically it means Max Mosley’s bezzie mate Alan Donnely (non-voting, but hugely influential stewards Chairman) is out of a job. It also means that the cry of the media, the sport at large, and even the drivers has been heeded and former racers will sit on a stewarding panel. Seems such a simple idea, doesn’t it? And the fact it has taken a new President to push it through gives us a small glimpse of just what a barrier to the advancement of common sense in the sport Max Mosley really had become in the latter stages of his Presidency.

There will also be newly appointed F1 Ambassadors, pulled from the membership of the World Council for each event.

The Ambassador will liaise with the National Sporting Authority (ASN) and organising team at the circuit. He will also meet with the ASN President, FIA VIP guests, Formula One Management, F1 Teams and other stakeholders and act as an Ambassador of FIA sport.

Anything else? Well actually, yes. One of Todt’s biggest election pledges has been incorporated into the FIA’s structure at the first opportunity with the announcement of the creation of the role of Comissioner for each FIA championship. Here’s the official blurb again…

Commissioners for the FIA World Championships will be appointed by the World Motor Sport Council on the proposal of the President of the FIA.

The commissioners report directly to the President of the FIA and, at the request of the President, to the Deputy President of the FIA for Sport or to other members of the World Motor Sport Council.

The commissioners will be present at each event of the World Championship for which they have been appointed and their role is to serve as permanent liaison for the various stakeholders involved (ASNs, promoters, organisers, manufacturers, teams, officials, suppliers, etc.).

They are also tasked with supervising the general running of the Championship and its development on behalf of the FIA.

The commissioners are not empowered to take decisions or to perform any other act of a regulatory nature which may come under the remit (sporting, technical, organisational or disciplinary) accorded to the officials of the event by the International Sporting Code.

The appointment of the commissioners will allow the FIA President to focus on the strategic development of the FIA and in particular to further encourage the synergies between mobility and motor sport.

The Calendar was also confirmed, with Abu Dhabi switching places with Brazil to become the final round of the season, as it was in 2009.

But the biggest and best news is that Jean Todt’s reign as President of the FIA is having an immediate impact. His suggestions for change have been sensible and structured and in some cases have righted problems which have existed within the sport for far too long. Most importantly of all, he is already respected enough within the association to be able to get his amendments voted through with little fuss.

All in all, it has been a good news day for Formula 1. Not only has today’s meeting of the world council reinforced the feeling that a new era of governance has swept over the FIA, but that in Jean Todt the body has a President with the strength and motivation to push Formula 1 in a direction that will benefit the sport first and foremost.

Tomorrow morning Flavio Briatore will begin his fight back against the lifetime ban imposed upon him by the FIA World Motor Sport Council for his part in the 2008 Singapore scandal.

His appeal against the decision will be heard at the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris, at the Palais de Justice. Justice has been handed out on this site since medieval times, and the Palais was once the seat of the French parliament.

But will Briatore get the justice he craves and that he believes he deserves?

Little is known about what Flav will argue but his options appear limited. We know, thanks to leaks to the press, that he will seek €1 million in compensation and to have his lifetime ban from FIA competition overturned. We know that he will argue that the case had been decided before it had even been heard and that he was made a scapegoat for the situation due to the personal vendetta of Max Mosley. But, as I said, how he hopes to argue this is, and may remain due to French judicial procedure, a mystery.

One of Flavio’s strongest arguments may well be the simple fact that both Nelson Piquet Jr and Pat Symonds were offered immunity to testify against Briatore. This could quite easily be argued to signal that the FIa was only intent on prosecuting Briatore and could give credence to his claims of a witch hunt. That Symonds ultimately chose not to take that offer, however, led to his own downfall. He will also be arguing his five year ban tomorrow.

Briatore and Symonds will try to argue that the case was heard without them being present, despite both of their testimonies to FIA investigators being used in the hearing at the WMSC. Had they wished to have been present to represent themselves, they could easily have done so. Their choice in not attending may thus stand their claims of a decision in absentia void.

Personally however, I do not believe that Briatore expects to win his case tomorrow. Frankly I don’t even think he wants to.

Had he wanted the decision overturned, he could have appealed in the first instance to the FIA’s International Court of Appeal. A body separate and independent of the WMSC and one filled with legal minds, he could easily have argued his case here and stood a good chance of being reinstated.

He has gone a different route however, taking his appeal through the French court system. But why? And why do I think he will lose?

He will lose because if he wins, the regulation of sport… any sport… could fall into chaos. Sporting bodies have always been and must continue to be free to punish those who break their rules.

We are not, for the most part, talking about legal issues when it comes to sporting penalties. Take the Bloodgate controversy in English rugby. While it is not illegal to bite down on a blood capsule, the fact that a player in a match of rugby did so to initiate a “blood replacement” led to him being suspended and his manager and physio being banned from the game for a period of some years. The Renault Singapore scandal isn’t too dissimilar.

So what happens if Flavio wins tomorrow? It essentially tells anyone who has been handed a penalty by a sport’s governing body that if they want to get it overturned they should appeal the decision through the courts. Can you imagine what that would do to world sport? Every yellow card, every red card, every sending off, every touchline ban, relegations, promotions, points dockings… every sporting penalty in every championship on earth could be appealed through the courts. It could create an enormous mess, and one which effectively strips the world’s sports’ governing bodies of any real power to govern their own sports.

But, as I said, I don’t think Flavio even wants to win this one. For me, tomorrow’s case was always one he was going to lose, and I think he knows that.

Flavio has gone the route he has because he expects to lose the case so that he can appeal to a higher body. And ultimately, when all other appeal courts in France have been expended he will take the case to where he really wants it to be heard… and that is the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

He will take his case to the highest court in Europe and he will argue that the FIA has stripped him of his basic human rights. In doing so he will seek to further discredit the reign of Max Mosley at the FIA, and to smash any chances Mosley might have had at entering European Politics, if indeed that is where Max had wished to end up after his FIA Presidency, as has been rumoured for many years.

I will not be surprised in the slightest if Flavio loses his appeal tomorrow. Afterall, if my hunch is right, it’s exactly what Flavio wants.

walken

There’s a great passage in the movie “Blast From the Past” delivered by one of my all-time favourite actors, Mr Chritsopher Walken. Admittedly the film isn’t great, but Walken, as always, is just brilliant. The movie essentially revolves around a family who have lived in a fall-out shelter for 30 years, erroneously believing in the late 1960s that the Cold War had become Nuclear and thus they had saved themselves from perishing by going underground. It is at the end of the movie, however, that the father, Calvin (played by Walken) discovers from his son who has been up to the real world, Adam (played by Brendan Fraser) that the nuclear war never actually happened and that the Soviet Union fell without any fighting taking place…

CALVIN: You’re sure?
ADAM: Positive. The Soviet Union collapsed without a shot being fired. The Cold War is over.
CALVIN: What? Did the Politburo just one day say – “We give up?”
ADAM: That’s kind of how it was.
CALVIN: Uh-huh. My gosh, those Commies are brilliant! You’ve got to hand it to ‘em! “No, we didn’t drop any bombs! Oh yes, our evil empire has collapsed! Poor, poor us!” I bet they’ve even asked the West for aid! Right?!
ADAM: Uh, I think they have.
CALVIN: Hah!!! Those cagey rascals! Those sly dissemblers! They’ve finally pulled the wool over everybody’s eyes.

It’s a scene that’s been running through my mind today, ever since Max Mosley walked out of the World Motor Sport Council meeting and announced he would step aside and that FOTA had, essentially, won the battle without even having to go into the basics of setting up their own rival championship. Even Jean Marie Balestre held out until a rival championship began back in the early 1980s… and yet Mosley, the most astute of politicians, the hardest nosed of all brinskmen had simply capitulated?

It took a little while to sink in.

And yet it genuinely does seem as though we have peace. The essentials of the 2009 regulations will be carried over into 2010. New teams will receive technical assistance from established teams. A FOTA suggestion of a gradual limitation of budgets to early 1990s levels will come in over the next two seasons. The 1998 Concorde Agreement will be resigned until 2012, before which date a brand new agreement will be discussed and signed.

And Max Mosley will stand aside. He will not run for re-election. And his day-to-day dealings with Formula 1, if we understand correctly from the rumours currently circulating, will be taken over by Michel Boeri, head of Monaco’s ACM.

It is a complete and total victory for FOTA. Without a comparative shot ever being fired.

It is brilliant news for Formula 1. It means we have one championship, and one championship alone. It means no division and no fears over the end of something we all adore.

But it also means the end of Max Mosley and his reign as FIA President… something that few within the sport will be truly sad to see.

However, just as Christopher Walken’s character found it hard to believe that the Communists had simply given up without a fight, so there will be those in Formula 1 who view today’s statement by Mosley with some trepidation.

In the past what Mosley has said and what he has done have not always been closely aligned. Just last year he said he would not stand for re-election as FIA President, and yet this week claimed that he would do exactly that. Only a last minute U-Turn has changed his mind.

What’s to stop him from turning again? With Formula 1 saved and the teams all committed to a future in the sport, what happens if no suitable Presidential candidate emerges? Would Mosley stand again? Would he claim force majeur?

Given how close F1 has come to the brink over the past few weeks, I’d doubt it. Maybe this really is the end of Max Mosley’s reign as President of the FIA.

But after so many political battles, and so much deception… it’s just taking a while to sink in.

The World Motor Sport Council will meet today in Paris, and the result of this meeting could have a huge impact on the future of Formula 1 as we know it.

Perhaps most important of all, is that today, for the first time in a number of weeks, FIA President Max Mosley will come face to face with FOTA President Luca di Montezemolo. It will be a face off, and I, along with many colleagues, would love to be a fly on that particular wall today.

Mosley’s hardline position over the past month will have won him many friends within FIA circles. There are many within the halls of power at the governing body who look upon Max as a Knight in shining armour, who has stood up for the authority of the FIA against the rebelious FOTA teams who, in their view, are trying to wrestle control of the sport away from them.

Mosley and di Montezemolo’s exchanges will thus be fascinating. For if di Montezemolo convinces the FIA that FOTA’s gripes rest not with the FIA, but with Mosley’s system of governance, then he may well start a groundswell of negativity towards Mosley from within the very body over which he presides. What the FIA doesn’t want is to see FOTA taking control of Formula 1 away from them. However it will also be only too aware that without the FOTA teams, there will be very little left of Formula 1 to govern.

Mosley wrote yesterday to all FIA Clubs, informing them that he had little option but to stand again for re-election to the FIA Presidency, owing to the unprecedented attack the body was enduring from FOTA. This announcement comes despite his assurances last year that he would NOT stand again.

So the exchanges between di Montezemolo and Mosley will be crucial today. If di Montezemolo comes out on top, and Mosley does stand for re-election, there is every reason to believe that somebody out there within the FIA may be bold enough to stand against him. If di Montezemolo can convince the FIA that FOTA’s gripes rest not with the FIA, but with what Mosley has turned the FIA into, then Mosley’s position could become unstable.

But if Mosley wins today’s confrontation, not only will he stand again for re-election, but he may do so unopposed. Worst still, if today cements his position as FIA President, Formula 1 as we know it will die.

It seems now that only Mosley’s stepping aside, or being forced aside, can begin the negotiation process between FOTA and the FIA.

FOTA is not averse to the FIA, nor is it averse to Ecclestone. All it wants to see is a new system of governance and a fairer distribution of revenue. Mosley currently stands in the way of the first of these demands, and until that is resolved there will be no movement. The breakaway will remain.

Which is why today’s meeting in Paris will be so important.

Another day, another development in the ever evolving mess that is Formula 1.

Yesterday’s news that FOTA intended to establish its own championship was met in the afternoon with the FIA’s own news that it intended to launch legal proceedings against the rebel alliance.

Their statement read:

“The FIA’s lawyers have now examined the FOTA threat to begin a breakaway series. The actions of FOTA as a whole, and Ferrari in particular, amount to serious violations of law including wilful interference with contractual relations, direct breaches of Ferrari’s legal obligations and a grave violation of competition law. The FIA will be issuing legal proceedings without delay.

“Preparations for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship continue but publication of the final 2010 entry list will be put on hold while the FIA asserts its legal rights.”

This statement is a fascinating one, and shows us perhaps for the first time that Max Mosley and the FIA is now on the back foot. As soon as FOTA announced its intentions to establish a rival championship, many of us expected the FIA to march forwards with its 2010 plans and to release an entry list for next season which included USF1, Campos, Manor, Williams, Force India, Ferrari, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and two extra new entries. That publication of this list has been delayed is the first signal of stalling.

Yes, with the announcement that this whole debate has gone legal, the issuing of the list was unthinkable, but in launching legal proceedings the FIA has at least bought itself some time… time to negotiate, time to reflect and time, ever so importantly, to save Formula 1.

The World Council will meet next week and there are differing views on what could happen when it convenes. Some areas of the paddock think that Max Mosley will suffer a heavy defeat in a vote of no confidence. Some think he will stand aside. Others believe he will hang on, defiant to the last. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is the latter.

The teams have reiterated that this argument isn’t about deposing Mosley. He, meanwhile, claims that the FOTA teams are trying to wrestle the governance of the sport out of the FIA’s hands and to steal Bernie Ecclestone’s business from under him.

The truth is somewhere in between.

The sport requires clear and transparent governance. It demands a fairer distribution of income. Both of these are essential for its future, but if either is to be achieved there will have to be casualties. And the longer this goes on, the greater that list could become.

breakaway_1

An F1 World Champion walked through the gates to Silverstone this morning and was mobbed by television cameras. His reaction to last night’s news was simple and forthrite.

“Formula 1 is dead.”

The reality that none of us wanted is here, and it is far more than an empty threat. FOTA will, unless earthshaking changes are made to the governance of this sport, start their own championship next season which will feature, in its own words, “transparent governance, one set of regulations,” the encouragement of “more entrants” and one that will “listen to the wishes of the fans, including offering lower prices for spectators worldwide.”

I’ve written much in recent days about the political war in Formula 1, and I have been cast in some circles as being an ardent supporter of Max Mosley. As I have written time and again, my observations have been based purely on politics. This battle stopped being about sport a long time ago. It has become a war over the governance of Formula 1 and has been waged on purely political terms, and as such, and to my mind, Max Mosley had played by far the stronger game. He sensed, as perhaps the majority of us did, that FOTA’s resolve would not hold, that by playing politics he had the stronger hand. He sensed that FOTA would not be brazen nor bold enough to split from the sport.

He was wrong.

He has backed FOTA into a corner, and one from which it looked as though they could not emerge victorious. By announcing their intention to set up their own rival championship, however, FOTA has played the only card left at its disposal. Mosley played the hardest game he could, but the teams have, against all expectation, stood firm. He insisted that there were elements within FOTA determined to disrupt the peace process and that they would not win.

But he underestimated the resolve of FOTA and the underlying resistance that exists in this sport to his Presidency.

When all is said and done, however, nobody has won. And certainly not the fans.

Division is an outcome that nobody wants. But it is the future we all have to face.

Pressure on Mosley’s Presidency will now come under enormous strain. From standing his ground and making a bold case for the FIA and its governance of the sport, Max Mosley now faces the prospect of being labelled as the man who has killed Formula 1. There are many within this media centre who now see his days as being numbered. Be there a movement from within the FIA to depose him of his Presidency, or whether, as he suggested he might one year ago, he stands aside rather than run for re-election, last night’s announcement by FOTA may yet come to be seen as the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I stated earlier this week that I believed Lola’s pulling out of the running for a 2010 F1 slot had been made so that they might be considered for entry to a FOTA championship. Today’s news that N.Technology has followed suit would seem to give credence to this. I would not be surprised to see a number of other prospective 2010 teams do the same before the end of the day.

I sit here now, at my computer, in the Silverstone media centre as Formula 1 cars run around this great track for potentially the last time and I feel drained. I have loved this sport for as long as I can remember, and today I look on, as a fan, and one privileged enough to work within this wonderful world, and I watch something that I adore crumble around me. Nobody with any love for this sport will take any satisfaction from what is going on at the moment. But accept it, deal with it and make the most of it, we must.

How could things have got this bad? And how can they ever be resolved?

This war of brinksmanship has reached a critical moment. As things stand the sport, as we know it, is destined to die.

As a journalist, as a privileged member of this community, but mostly as a die-hard, life-long fan of this sport, today just fills me with sadness. I pray common sense will win out. But I am reluctant to hold my breath.

FOTA today made a move towards trying to resolve the war over the future of Formula 1 in a timely letter to FIA President Max Mosley.

“The time has come when, in the interests of the sport, we must all seek to compromise and bring an urgent conclusion to the protracted debate regarding the 2010 world championship,” Reuters quoted the letter as saying.

“We hope that you will consider that this letter represents significant movement by the teams, all of whom have clearly stated a willingness to commit to the sport until the end of 2012.”

FOTA has proposed, among other things, that the Budget Cap be renamed a “resource restriction” and that its auditting be done by a group of independent accountants under regulations agreed by all the teams. FOTA also wants to ensure that a discussion over the governance of the sport takes place, and therefore that a new Concorde Agreement is agreed, and with negotiations protracted that the deadline for conditions to be dropped be moved back from this Friday.

The FIA’s response has not been overtly negative, but neither has it been overwhelmingly positive.

In Max Mosley’s view, the Friday deadline will stand. It won’t be extended any further because the debacle has already gone on too long. If the FOTA teams want to ensure fair governance they will therefore have to agree to a resigning of the 1998 Concorde in lieu of a new Concorde being agreed. Should the teams sign up to this agreement, then all parties can negotiate a brand new 2009 agreement which would over-ride the extension of the ’98 pact.

With regard to the Budget Cap, Mosley’s only real reservation was that FOTA had failed to set a level for the cap.

As such, and in line with previous comments, he has asked all remaining FOTA teams to drop their conditions and sign up for 2010, agreeing to the £40 million Budget Cap. Once in, they will be able to debate a resolution to the regulation debate. The two-tier system will be scrapped, says Mosley, although the new teams running Cosworth engines will be allowed to run engines to 2006 specification as their last minute call-up and continued delay in agreeing a firm foundation for 2010 means there is not enough time for the engine manufacturer to get up to 2010 standards.

So are we any closer to an agreement?

Well yes and no.

FOTA is clearly aware now that if it does not make a move in a positive direction, then Max Mosley really will not shed a tear if they pull out. Because of the brinksmanship used by the FIA President, he has placed the onus on them not to rip the sport apart.

FOTA has therefore suggested methods by which this mess can be resolved, which would make them and, they hope, the FIA happy.

Mosley, in turn, has replied that this is all well and good, but the only way they can seek to change the regulations is from the inside. And until they drop their stance and enter the 2010 championship unconditionally, FOTA is on the outside. Join, and we will talk this through.

But FOTA will be wary. For if they drop their guard and enter, there is no guarantee that the negotiations will actually lead to the changes they want to see. Promise of discussion is not a promise of revolution.

And with the news today that Lola has pulled its application for entry to 2010, one of Mosley’s trump cards has disappeared. FOTA may yet sense a weakening in his defences.

So while things appear to have moved on… they haven’t. We’re still at loggerheads.

Mosley has written to each remaining FOTA team individually and asked them to agree to his terms. Friday’s deadline still looms. Who falls in line, and who stands firm, we wait to see.

fia logo

The FIA has released a public dossier on its dealings with FOTA over the past few months, as both bodies strive towards finding a solution for the future of Formula 1.

I ask you to take a few minutes from your day and read the document through in full. It is fascinating reading, and with FOTA’s own document sure to be released soon, gaining a full understanding of the FIA’s position is, I feel, of great importance.

The FIA Statement in Full

The document makes genuinely intruiging reading, but it is concrete in its resolution.

The FIA and FOM have together spent decades building the FIA Formula One World Championship into the most watched motor sport competition in history.

In light of the success of the FIA’s Championship, FOTA – made up of participants who come and go as it suits them – has set itself two clear objectives: to take over the regulation of Formula One from the FIA and to expropriate the commercial rights for itself. These are not objectives which the FIA can accept.

It is this section of the document, perhaps more than any of the whys and wherefores, that matters. It is in this that the FIA sets out its stall and says, perhaps in stronger fashion than ever, that FOTA will not and cannot win this fight.

It’s over. Time at the bar. If FOTA stands firm, this sport as we know it is done. Finished.

The teams simply cannot win. The governing body and the commercial rights holder are now so steadfast in their position and their belief that the teams are trying to stage what, in their eyes, is a coup d’etat, that they will not give in and relinquish even the scantest element of their authority. The rules will not be changed. The budget cap will not be raised. It’s over.

Which means that the threat of a division, and of either the establishment of a new championship or of the manufacturers going their own separate ways, is now an almost certainty.

The only question left, it seems, is whether FOTA will remain united and do its own thing, or if its membership will start to capitulate to the FIA.

Unfortunately, and as a result of this document making public the instances of battle in a war that still rages between two bodies so fundamentally opposed to the existence and demands of the other, there seems little question that this Friday’s deadline could yet see the single most cataclysmic event in the history of the sport.

Fifty nine years ago, Formula 1 was born at Silverstone, with the running of the first ever World Championship Grand Prix. Could it be that at that very circuit, which itself is being ejected from the sport it helped to create, we receive confirmation that Formula 1, as we have come to know it, will cease to exist?

God, I hope not. But it seems as though there just isn’t any room left to manouevre.