Formula One Pot Boils Over
The major F1 manufacturers and teams finally got a bellyful. Yesterday they announced they would leave the sport’s governing body, the FIA (Féderation Internationale de l’Automobile), and run their own racing series in 2010. This is auto racing’s version of the rebellion that’s racking Iran.
The Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) comprises eight teams—Ferrari, BMW-Sauber, Renault, McLaren-Mercedes, Brawn GP, Toyota, Red Bull Racing, and Scuderia Toro Rosso. These guys are the heavy hitters of international formula racing, and they have apparently had enough of the dictatorial whims of FIA president Max Mosley (above) and cohort Bernie Ecclestone (below), its business head, the money man.
We wrote about the F1 revolt, including Max and his Nazi sex orgy, last month. Between them, Max and Bernie have run the FIA like two stooges out of a Mel Brooks movie. British racing hero Jackie Stewart told Autocar Magazine:
I think a lot of people are kind of fed up with the dictatorial attitude. It’s been coming for some time. I think the teams feel that they have been bullied in some way for quite a long time, trying to force things through. I have said for a long time that the FIA needs to be restructured and there needs to be more corporate governance.
You bet. And Brother Bernie, like his namesake Madoff, has finally been unmasked. Formula One generates more than $1 billion a year.
Formula One teams—the people who design the cars, invest the cash and put the drivers on the circuit—get half the cash, while CVC, a privately-owned [sic] company of professional money-makers, get the rest. Meanwhile, there is no investment in the grass roots or in the infrastructure of motor racing or the circuits. Bernie and CVC simply sit there and take the loot.
The teams are especially fed up with having no say in running the sport. So things are beginning to look like the streets of Tehran. Like Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Max has a revolt on his hands after wielding Supreme Leader power for many years. To the streets, race fans!
If the breakaway teams race in the U.S., as seems possible, would you attend?
The FIA has responded to the threatened withdrawal by suing the eight racing teams (the FOTA), accusing them of “serious violations of law,” breaking contracts and “a grave violation of competition law,” whatever that is.
“The positions have hardened on both sides,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said. “The teams feel they have gone as far as they can, the FIA feel they have gone as far as they can and we’ve ended up in a situation where a solution hasn’t been found.
“We’ve no alternative because if we can’t race in Formula One under the current rules, if you want to keep competing then you’ve got to look at something else.”
Another element driving the lawsuit, which had some special words for Ferrari, has been the growing bad blood between Max Mosley and Ferrari head Luca di Montezemolo.