Formula One or Formula Farce?

Formula One or Formula Farce?

The Prancing Horse is threatening to leave the barn unless the controversial budget cap of only ?40M ($62M) per year is removed. Mosley and his merry men claim this is required to help new entrants into the sport. As the deadline to register for...

The Prancing Horse is threatening to leave the barn unless the controversial budget cap of only ?40M ($62M) per year is removed. Mosley and his merry men claim this is required to help new entrants into the sport. As the deadline to register for 2010, May 29, approaches the once glorious sport of Formula 1 is being turned into Formula Farce, driven by egos and self-interest agendas.

Luca di Montezemolo.
Photo by LAT Photographic.

Scuderia Ferrari has, at least for the time being, the support of most of the major teams like Renault, Toyota and Red Bull. BMW may also join ranks with them while McLaren has adopted the policy of "silence is golden" after the lie-gate debacle in Australia.

Thieves in the temple: Ferrari has long been seen as FIA's favorite child receiving favorable terms and treatment. The fact the Italian marque is paid more than other teams from television and other FOM fees was a surprise to many. This treatment awards them over $50m more for winning the constructors championship than, say, McLaren or Renault.

Now it has emerged the FIA has even allowed Ferrari veto powers on regulation changes, and the team's failure to exercise it was cited in French court on Wednesday when Ferrari's call for injuction against FIA's rule changes was not granted.

Ferrari, a name synonymous with Formula 1 and motor racing, issued this statement: "If it is not possible for all parties to reach agreement, then in line with the decision of the Main Board, taken on 12th May, Ferrari will not enter its cars in a competition that, with the planned scenario in place, would see a watering down of the characteristics that have endowed Formula 1 with the status of the most important motor sport series and that have specifically led to the Maranello marque's uninterrupted participation in the World Championship since 1950. In this situation, Ferrari will continue to compete in races of a calibre worthy of the marque, matching its level of innovation and technological research".

Get the Max: FIA President Max Mosley had already stated Formula 1 can survive without Ferrari. The ex-lawyer would be well advised to confer with Tony George how successful his own little agenda has been since 1996. Mosley's mantra after the French court ruling: ""No competitor should place their interests above those of the sport in which they compete. The FIA, the teams and our commercial partners will now continue to work to ensure the well-being of Formula One in 2010 and beyond".

Max Mosley.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Ferrari's main beef with new regulations is the two-tier system it would create, allowing teams working within the budget cap more technical freedom. With billions invested in their Formula 1 programme it is easy to see why major manufacturers are adamant about pulling out after this season. It was only a few years ago that the threat of a breakaway series by the GPMA (Grand Prix Manufacturers Association) was dealt a fatal blow when -- surprise, surprise -- FIA and FOM, in the immortal words of Bernard Ecclestone, "bought Ferrari's loyalty".

Lesson must be learned from the decade long civil war in open wheel racing across the pond. CART never bought Tony George's loyalty and the result was massive advertising for Alcoa when watching the final day of qualifying for the "Greatest spectacle in racing". This has been a familiar sight in IRL history since Tony George's vision was launched to replace Mears, Andretti, Tracy, and Unser with Lazier, Ray, Jones and Sharp.

Mosley is sharp to the max. He should know Formula 1 will survive without Ferrari, but bigger question is; will Formula 1 succeed without Ferrari? Ferrari may re-enter sports car racing and legend of the marque will bring in the crowds at Le Mans, Sebring or any 1000km race they compete in. Toyota took pole at Le Mans but victory eluded the Japanese giant at the Sarthe circuit. Beating Ferrari at Le Mans has a sweet taste for any manufacturer. Henry proudly took this route in '66.

Or will we see the inaugural Grand Prix World Championship in 2010 with names like Massa, Raikkonen, Alonso, Vettel and Kubica?

Drivers' dilemma: Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari's man of few words and 2007 World Championship, has stated Formula 1 will not be the same without big teams. At $50m a year retainer Raikkonen's loyalty cannot be for sale in today's economic climate and he remains committed to Ferrari: "I am 100 per cent behind the team and whatever they choose to do, I will go with them. For sure they will find something to do for me, I will still have a contract with them - and they are racing in many different categories. So, I think they will find something for me".

Fernando Alonso, the 2005 & '06 World Champion, feels Formula 1 without the big teams will not be interesting. He lamented, ""For me, it is strange no one sat down and thought how much we are damaging the sport, how much damage the sport has had in the last two months. "To have those three or four new teams and to lose seven of the big manufacturers, I cannot understand, and not just losing the seven manufacturers, but losing the 10 best drivers in the world".

Crown Jewel: The Formula 1 circus is in Monaco for this weekend's race through the streets of Monte-Carlo. Let's hope the party moves on to another race leaving the clowns behind and common sense shining for a brighter Formula 1 in 2010 and beyond.

Nasir Hameed is a free lance journalist based in California and a regular contributor to www.f1weekly.com podcast.

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Series GENERAL , F1