Not A Dude
- Jun 12, 2008
I thought this was a pretty good read:
Source: http://timesonline.typepad.com/formula_one/2009/06/for-media-information-purposes-no-regulatory-value.htmlJune 17, 2009
For Media Information Purposes - No Regulatory Value
The FIA and Fota this week resemble a married couple going through their final days together before splitting irrevocably and handing their affairs and their financial and emotional futures to their lawyers. At the moment the kitchen china is being thrown around. (As in all divorces, this will be very bad for the children and could affect their development and psychological state for years). Just to take this analogy a little further, the nextdoor neighbour, from whom the family rent the place, has always been good at calming disputes (coming over for a BBQ, telling a few jokes and offering advice and that sort of thing) but on this occasion even he seems at a loss...
I digress. What we can see is two groups of people arguing about two different things. On the face of it the dispute is about cost-cutting and the FIA still seems to think that that is the case. The reality, however, is that Fota's problem is Max. Fota do not want to say so publicly but my impression is that he is their real sticking point. They do not want to do business with him, they don't trust him, they don't like his dictatorial style, they have had enough of his version of the FIA and his governance of the sport.
I have rehearsed this all before and apologies for the repetitive nature of it but the quarrel has not changed much for several weeks, so much so that my own newspaper has lost interest in it until progress - of whatever sort - is made. (It is interesting, that...newspapers have plenty of space for sport. People hitting balls and running around. They do not have endless capacity for mud-slinging about the rules). The big problem is that Fota cannot get rid of Max (because, as we have said, he is elected by people who have nothing to do with Formula One) so the only way they can go racing without him is to start their own series.
I was intrigued by the FIA's own briefing on the affair issued to the press on Tuesday - one of those "For Media Information Purposes - No Regulatory Value" things. The idea was to set out the FIA's position and its own view of the essence of the quarrel and how it has progressed. Predictably Luca di Montezemolo comes out of it badly (in the FIA's view, that is). Under the heading "The FIA and FOTA", the document deals with all the issues apart from the main one. There are sub-heads on "Setting the record straight", "Background", "Technology", "Two sets of Rules", "Intrusiveness" and so on. There is no sub-head entitled "Max Mosley" or "The FIA president". The nearest it gets to dealing with the substantive issue is under the heading "Governance" when the FIA - I would imagine it was written by Max and Richard Woods - offers: "Formula One needs a strong and impartial regulator because of the nature of the sport, the high stakes and the competitors - people who want to win (literally) at any cost." And that's it...
Apart from one other sentence right at the beginning which is never picked up again. Almost as if someone saw through it all and then backed away or cast it out of their mind. Here we go, paragraph one: "What is this dispute really all about?" the FIA asks. "Is it about an attempt by some teams to take over the commercial rights to Formula One? Or to take the regulatory function away from the FIA? Or even just a clash of personalities? It has elements of all of these..." Touched on but not developed...
Imagine if Max was a statesman and he was big enough to see that he had become more of a problem than problem-solver for the sport. He could stand down in the interests of the sport (everyone loves doing things in the interests of the sport) and he could also leave, as a legacy, a new, more democratic, structure by which Formula One is administered by the FIA. How about, for example, a Formula One steering group made up of representatives from teams, the commercial rights holder and the FIA but on which the president has no direct involvement? Something like that...
Fota are not without blame in this. Individually weak, they are strong as a unit. They have been frightened of saying what their problem is and, as result, there has been a lot of confusion in the representation of their case in the media. As we get closer to Armageddon, they have a strong hand to play. They can argue that Max has brought the sport to its knees, they can argue that they want to play but they are only being reasonable in their demands. And they can appeal to the public on the issue of drivers who are, by far and away, the most important part of Formula One as far as ordinary followers of the sport are concerned. How can the regulator be doing a good job if it has contrived to end up with a situation in which almost all the top drivers in Formula One will no longer be taking part? Among them will be two fomer world champions in Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, one reigning world champion in Lewis Hamilton and one (very likely) future world champion in Jenson Button. There are also some other big favourites among the outcasts - Felipe Massa, Robert Kubica, Rubens Barrichello. Millions, upon millions of people follow these heroes around the globe and most of them don't give a fig for the likes of Max or Fota.