A new era is coming for Formula 1; the Formula One Teams Association have announced they will be leaving Formula One and starting a breakaway world championship. I’ve been following the fighting back and forth pretty closely over the past few weeks on sites like f1-live.com and grandprix.com and I can’t say that I’m surprised.
Hopefully the FOTA showing that they’re not opposed to breaking away will bring the FIA back to the table to negotiate a little more. I’m not sure what I think about a break away series yet, other that I think the FIA is being a bit ridiculous to ask some of the top teams to cut expenditures by as much as 90% from one year to the next. It’s reported that some of the top teams spend in excess of €450 million and the FIA wants to reduce this to €45 million by next year. The one thing I do know is that F1 is not the same without teams like Ferrari, McLaren, and Renault.
Quick edit. – A few weeks ago, Flavio Briatore was quoted as saying “It is not correct that teams of GP2 race with us; it brings down our image and our technology. We are devaluing Formula One, [w]e want a Formula One that is unique, with the best technology and the best teams and drivers.” I have to agree with his statements. F1 has been and should be the pinnacle of motor sports, imposing such a strict budget cap will severely limit the level of innovation that we see within the sport.
If we look at it this in terms of the 2009 season “[a]t a time when we are talking about bringing down budgets to £30 million a year, we have spent £15m on KERS and and other £10m on diffusers. So that leaves five more for travel and paying the employees!” It’s hard not to agree.
In the dead of Thursday night in England, the eight Formula One Teams’ Association members issued a statement announcing that a breakaway world championship will be formed.
The announcement came on the eve of the FIA’s Friday deadline for making unconditional entries for the official Formula One series, and amid the sides’ deadlocked negotiations about income, governance and rules.
“The FIA and the commercial rights holder have campaigned to divide FOTA,” the statement read. “The wishes of the majority of the teams are ignored.
“Furthermore, tens of millions of dollars have been withheld from many teams by the commercial rights holder, going back as far as 2006.”
The statement was issued on behalf of BMW, Brawn, Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, Toyota and the two Red Bull owned teams.
“These teams therefore have no alternative other than to commence the preparation for a new championship which reflects the values of its participants and partners,” said FOTA.
The details of the new series, including a name, circuits and starting year, have not yet been announced. At present its grid would feature 16 cars, unless the eight involved teams each field three drivers.
“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,” the statement continued.
“The major drivers, stars, brands, sponsors, promoters and companies historically associated with the highest level of motorsport will all feature in this new series.”
The formation of the series will spark more political turmoil, especially given that Ferrari and the Red Bull teams were unconditionally included on the FIA’s entry list, due to disputed agreements with the F1 ruling bodies.
F1 Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone, whose Formula One Management is contracted to and aligned with the FIA and President Max Mosley, has already vowed to legally challenge the defection of teams, and any attempts to negotiate with his contracted promoters and TV broadcasters.
The inclusion on the breakaway series of loved venues including Monaco, Spa and Monza will therefore be contested, while FOTA’s plans do not involve the successful British team and expelled FOTA member Williams, which like Force India is committed to the FIA championship next year.