FIA vs FOTA – the cage match continues

Friday!  Friday!  Friday!  And every Friday this week!  Get ready for the very latest drop-dead deadline in the series of drop-dead deadlines issued by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (or FIA).  Yes, the saga continues as the members of the Formula One Teams Association (or FOTA) and the FIA continue to try to reach come kind of accord regarding next year’s rules. 

To vastly oversimplify things FIA head Max Mosley wants a 45 million Euro budget cap for next year and FOTA does not.  Beyond that basic disagreement, the FOTA teams want a bigger say in the way Formula 1 is governed, as they think Max has perhaps let all this power go to his head just a smidge.  They want him to dial it back a bit and actually listen to what the teams want before he changes the rules.  He does that a lot – change the rules that is.

Max has taken the “my way or the highway” approach, going so far as to say to the FOTA teams “start your own series”.  In my opinion that is starting to look more and more likely.  Max has really been shooting his mouth off the last couple of says, saying some of the FOTA teams are blocking a perfectly good compromise.  This is another popular tactic with Max, the old “divide and conquer” approach.  It’s worked for him in the past, but it’s looking like the teams are not falling for it this time. 

If the FOTA teams walk away, where would Formula 1 be?  Well, they would still have Williams, but sadly they are not the powerhouse they once were.  He would have Force India and the three new teams that applied for places on the grid in 2010, Campos, Manor F1 and USF1.  In other words not much. 

And what would FOTA have?  Well, they would have Ferrari, McLaren, Brawn GP, BWM, Renault, Toyota, Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Torro Rosso.  They will also have all the best drivers (since they all drive for FOTA teams) and more money to spend, so arguably better racecars.  What they don’t have is a series to race in.

Some say they will move to sports car racing in the Le Mans/American Le Mans league.  Others say they really will start their own series, as Max so happily invited them to do.  Rumor has it they have been talking to the head of the commercial rights holder of the MotoGP series about that very thing.   

Meanwhile deadlines come and deadlines go.  This upcoming deadline is the third Max has issued.  It is my humble opinion that the longer this goes on, the stronger FOTA becomes.  I think the FIA will be hard pressed to replaces all eight teams if they walk.  They have plenty of applicants, but I am not convinced any of those paper teams could actually have a car ready for testing in January.

I do not want a break away series, but that seems to be the writing on the wall.  And while a part of me would love to see Max and his evil cohort, commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone get the rug yanked out from under them, I don’t think I have the intestinal fortitude for a messy divorce, and that is what it would be.  A very messy divorce.  I would rather see some kind of compromise, or better yet see Max run away with his (pointy) tail between his legs.


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