The so-called two-tier Formula One championship as proposed by the FIA for the 2010 season has caused quite a stir amongst Formula One fans, but also amongst Formula One teams themselves. The general consensus is that a two-tier competition (in any sport for that matter) is not very desirable to say the least, many fear a competition with two different sets of rules will split Formula One into two camps. The new rules are fiercely opposed by the most loved, respected, legendary, charismatic and imaginative team in Formula One ever: Scuderia Ferrari. Ferrari is the only team that has competed in Formula One since the official start in 1950. Ferrari has won 209 Formula One races out of 780 starts and a Ferrari has started from pole position 203 times.
A brief lesson in history
When we hear the name Ferrari, or see the legendary logo of the "cavallino rampante", we immediately think about drivers like Alberto Ascari, Jose Froilan Gonzalez, Juan Manuel Fangio, Giuseppe Farina, Mike Hawthorn, Giorgio Scarlatti, Wolfgang von Trips, Tony Brooks, Phil Hill, Lorenzo Bandini, John Surtees, Jacky Ickx, Clay Regazzoni, Niki Lauda, Gilles Villeneuve, Michele Alboreto, Gerhard Berger, Jean Alesi, and more recently Rubens Barrichello, Michael Schmacher, Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. It's impossible to name them all, so I apologize to the drivers I didn't mention here.
Enzo Ferrari was born February 18, 1898 in Modena, Italy. In 1950, during the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Enzo Ferrari entered Formula One with a F1 version of his Ferrari 125. The Scuderia Ferrari wasn't very successful that year, but in 1951, during the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Argentine driver Jose Froilan Gonzalez won the first race for the Ferrari team. In 1952 Italian Alberto Ascari, won six races in a row, and became the first Ferrari driver to win the Formula One Drivers Championship. In 1953 Ascari won five races and won the title again for Ferrari. Until this day, Alberto Ascari remains the only Italian driver who won the title for the Scuderia Ferrari.
The legendary Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio joined Ferrari in 1956 and won the drivers championship that year, and in 1958 Mike Hawthorn again won the championship for Ferrari. In 1961 Enzo Ferrari won his first Constructors Championship, Ferrari driver Wolfgang von Trips was on his way to clinch the Drivers Championship, but sadly he died during the race at Monza that year, and his teammate American Phil Hill became the fifth Ferrari driver to win the Drivers World Championship.
In 1968 Enzo Ferrari sold 90% of the Ferrari sports car factory and 50% of Scuderia Ferrari to the Italian car producer Fiat. In 1975 and 1977, Niki Lauda clinched the drivers title for Ferrari, and without his horrible accident in 1976 he probably would have won the title that year as well. Jody Scheckter won the title in 1979, but after that Ferrari had to wait until 2000 when Michael Schumacher won the championship again for the Scuderia Ferrari.
Enzo Ferrari died in 1988, a great loss for Formula One, but also for motorsports in general. We will all remember Enzo Ferrari, "il Papa" (the Pope) of motorsports, with his white hair, his tinted glasses, his cracking voice, sitting behind his impressive desk at his equally impressive office in Modena where time seemed to have stopped, the legend of Enzo Ferrari will live on forever.
Back to 2009
Back to 2009 and the much dreaded two-tier championship. The last two weeks, after FIA president Max Mosley officially confirmed the two-tier 2010 championship, a number of teams have said they don't like the new rules and have made it clear it is possible they won't compete in Formula One in 2010. Ferrari and FOTA chairman Luca de Montezemolo was the first to oppose these new rules, he said the introduction of financially capped and non-capped F1 teams would lead to an unfair and biased championship that would damage the image of Formula One.
De Montezemolo: "With regard to the decisions taken by the FIA World Council, FOTA would like to express its disappointment and concern at the fact that these have been taken in a unilateral manner. The framework of the regulations as defined by the FIA, to be applicable as from 2010, runs the risk of turning on its head the very essence of Formula 1 and the principles that make it one of the most popular and appealing sports".
Last week the FOTA Executive Committee met at Heathrow airport to "to examine the new regulations proposed by the FIA for the 2010 F1 Championship and to evaluate the progress of the negotiations with the Commercial Rights Holder for the renewal of the Concorde Agreement". It is clear that the FOTA members are not happy with the new FIA regulations, they will meet again at the end of this week to discuss their future in Formula One, and they have also urged FIA president Max Mosley to join the discussion of the cost cap regulations.
A number of teams have recently joined the view of Luca di Montezemolo. McLaren team principle Martin Whitmarsh told the media that McLaren is against a two-tier championship, The official statement by McLaren: "As a member of FOTA, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is of course supportive of FOTA's recent efforts to reduce costs in Formula One. Equally, we recognize the excellent work done recently by the FIA in the area of cost reduction. Nonetheless, we believe that the optimal solution - which may or may not include a budget cap, but which ideally would not encompass a two-tier regulatory framework - is most likely to be arrived at via measured negotiation between all parties".
Just before this weekends Spanish Grand Prix, BMW-Sauber team principal Mario Theissen said "a two-class Formula One is not attractive to BMW". He also hinted that BMW-Sauber could decide not to compete in F1 in 2010 if the FIA doesn't want to discuss the new regulations with the FOTA.
During the Spanish Grand Prix Toyota team principal John Howett came with a similar statement, but this time he left no doubts about Toyota's decision, Toyota is not impressed by the new rules and if they are not changed, Toyota will not compete in Formula 1 in 2010.
On Monday Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz told the Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten: "If the proposed rules for 2010 are not changed, both Red Bull teams will not enter the 2010 Formula One competition. The other factory teams will do the same, so there will be two or three teams left, Williams, Brawn GP and possibly Force India. The conditions for the 2010 season make it impossible for us to join the 2010 competition".
All teams who want to compete in 2010 will have (to) submit their application before May 29 2009, time is running out and it seems we have a boycott on our hands. Teams will not submit their application before May 29 if the FIA is not willing to discuss the budget cap with the FOTA. Unfortunately, Max Mosley is determined to keep his foot down and wants to proceed with the rules as they are now.
Mosley hinted that Formula One without Ferrari is "possible", but everyone who is involved in F1, from teams to spectators, knows that this is not true. In an earlier comment I already said that Formula one without Ferrari would be like Paris without the Eiffel tower, or Venice without canals.
As Bernie Ecclestone said in Barcelona: "Formula One is Ferrari and Ferrari is Formula One. It's just a marriage made in heaven, one of those super things that work well".
I couldn't have said it better myself, and there we are, Formula One's sacred cow is a horse, the beautiful prancing horse of Scuderia Ferrari. I sincerely hope common sense will prevail, and hopefully Ferrari's prancing horse and their beautiful cars will be in Formula One for many more years. Can anyone imagine Formula One without Ferrari?
Ferrari World Champions:
Alberto Ascari (I) 1952, 1953
Juan Manuel Fangio (AR) 1956
Mike Hawthorn (GB) 1958
Phil Hill (USA) 1961
John Surtees (GB) 1964
Niki Lauda (A) 1975, 1977
Jody Scheckter (ZA) 1979
Michael Schumacher (D) 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) 2007
Constructors Title: 1961, 1964, 1975-1977, 1982, 1983, 1999, 2000-2004, 2007, 2008