Ferrari Leave Formula 1

vikiradTG2007

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Sit back and get some popcorn, because I'm going on a major rant here and a big description of the reasons why I think this is simply lessons which have not been learned properly, and, therefore, history repeating itself.


First of all, there has been an atmosphere of discontent in F1 for quite some time. The origins of it can probably be traced to the re-involvement of manufacturers as full-time constructors into F1. Renault, Toyota and Jaguar all came into F1 as full-fledged constructors in the space of two years (Ford purchased Stewart for 2000, Toyota started testing and development in 2001 and Benetton was fully acquired by Renault at the same time), while Mercedes-Benz and BMW had enormous interests in McLaren and Williams. The manufacturers were pretty unhappy from the start due to the distribution of the prize funds under the Concorde Agreement, the infamous split where a large percentage of the cash goes to Bernie.
Back in the old days, the seeds of discontent began to be sown early on, when the FOCA was formed to negotiate better terms for the teams. Ironically, from '73 onwards, the man who was in charge of the organisation was... the very same Bernie we know and "love". The major upsets came in the form of ground effects, which were exploited to the max by the Cosworth-powered FOCA teams (Lotus, Brabham, McLaren, Williams were the core four), and at the same time, the loathed "yellow teapot" Renault RS01 which was to throw F1 into a turbocharged revolution, while, at the same time, heralding a return by the manufacturers. It was going to be a classic grandee vs. garagiste conflict.

Now, as in the old days, it was a series of regulation changes which brought the stand-off to the boiling point and to all-out war. Back then, FISA, ostensibly on the side of the manufacturers, especially since they included the French Renault team, and also because FISA was run by the suspiciously patriotic Jean-Marie Balestre, introduced a series of rule changes meant to tip the balance in the favour of the three manufacturer teams (Renault, Ferrari, Alfa), who were all going on the route of forced induction if they hadn't already. Those rules were a 50kg increase in the weight limit, from 575 to 625kg, disallowing the teams to use commercial names for their cars (annoying especially for the JPS-sponsored Lotus and Marlboro-sponsored McLaren), and, the final nail in the coffin, or so Balestre thought, banning skirts and imposing a 60mm minimum ground clearance regulation, in order to remove the massive advantage that Williams and Brabham, by that time, had in terms of ground effect, and via that, chassis handling. The regulations were forced through by FISA, because of "safety concerns", and Balestre expelled FOCA's representatives from the F1 Technical Commission, in order to get his own way. The most telling quote from one of Balestre's conferences was... "The FISA exerts full control over all the championships that belong to it, and which, at the present moment, are subject to a takeover by certain associations foreign to the FIA."
At this moment, the teams find themselves at loggerheads with the FIA because it forced through, without consultations with the Technical and Sporting Working Groups (which include representatives from the teams), the budget cap regulation and the two-tier system, which effectively splits the sport into two classes; basically what Balestre tried to do in the late '70s, only now in a much more un-covert way.

However, in both events, it is a case of the split in funds and a matter of "who controls what" in F1. The teams, both then and now, were trying to have a larger say in matters which concerned them directly, both in terms of budgets and in terms of regulations. FOCA's weapon against the FISA back then was blatantly dodging the regulations by running cars that were legal... at times, but exploited the most dodgy loopholes in the regulations. This gave birth to the hydraulic ride height adjustment system, thought up by Gordon Murray for the Brabham BT49, the innovative (and banned) twin-chassis Lotus 88, and then, at the beginning of '82, when the turbocharged cars were starting to gain more reliability and even more power, "water-cooled brakes" which actually meant the FOCA teams' cars ran for 5 laps while cooling their brakes... then ran underweight all race long, topping up the coolant at the end. Costly developments forced upon them by necessity and unfriendly regulations. This time, I can see the teams circumventing the cost cap rule, signing up for the cost-capped regulations but spending for other projects, which just... erm... happen to be related to both F1 and either the road or another form of racing.

The next similarity which might be observed, but we haven't had a chance so far to, would be boycotts. The first "battle" of the FISA-FOCA war was at the 1980 Spanish GP, when FOCA boycotted practice, but things got so bad that King Juan Carlos ordered the organisers to go ahead with the race, and the organisers found themselves contractually bound to FOCA and literally escorted the whole Ferrari, Renault and Alfa teams off the Jarama track AT GUNPOINT! A more infamous event was the 1981 South African GP, which ended up as a Formula Libre (not a non-championship) event after a series of events, but the most poignant boycott for everyone must have been the 1982 San Marino GP, when just 14 cars started the race.

Right now, we haven't had a true boycott since the shambles at the 2005 USGP. But if this situation escalates, expect the whole 2010 season to be boycotted. After all, Mosley is using an old weapon, which he used in 2006 and which Balestre employed in 1980: forcing a deadline for entry to the Championship, and entering it means complying to the FIA's regulations.


Ferrari have threatened to pull out, Red Bull and Toyota as well. That's four teams already. BMW, Renault and Mercedes might be looking the same way, which means 14 cars out next year.

We have two weeks until the 2010 WC entry deadline. This has potential to degenerate into something even more earth-shattering than FISA+FOCA=FIASCO.

Watch this space. This is going to be messy.
 

GraemeH

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You know this time last year, or even 6 months ago, I would have been happy. Now though, I think there has always been an atmosphere of the FIA + Ferrari then the other teams. Now the teams are probably more united against the FIA than before - yes some are happy with the new rules but if the other 7 walk it means nothing. Something has to happen, F1 can't go on with the off-track drama and rules changes and instability for ever. I almost wish it would happen sooner rather than later now, that this all comes to a head and the showdown happens. This could be it.

Frankly I'm sick of hearing about the credit crunch and how they must cut costs. They don't need to cut costs any more than they naturally do according to their business plans. They're businesses; they do what they have to to be profitable. If that means throwing shitloads of money at a problem then that's the way to do it. They're driven by market forces. Companies that overspend will go bust and the problem is solved. You're left with the healthy companies that can do the best job whilst retaining profitability. That's how capitalism works, those are the checks and balances; market forces and the threat of going bust. They NEED to exist for the health of the economy. If you try to remove them (overzerlous rules on finance, artificially propping up a company with financial assistance) you end up with unhealthy unsustainable companies (GM, British Leyland, Royal Mail et al).
 

justvisiting

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This is getting long winded, for nothing, what happens happens. Its our individual choices to follow the sport regardless of what happens.

I personally think Ferrari are bluffing, but on good ground. They can leave sport, as the last decade has seen them grow as a car manufacturer riding on their F1 success to the point where they can - in a business view - stand alone without F1, but in a different racing series perhaps. But the issue is they advertise their heritage and such, and their commercial success may be too closely linked to that. I mean they would no longer be able to claim that their production cars are made to fund their racing.

Anyways I agree with whoever said this is Max throwing out the impossible so that a compromise can be made. Seriously though, we all know the infrastructure of F1 management is the real problem. No one wants all these headaches their political drama creates, but clearly we the fans don't know exactly what the teams know about the management, which hold the keys to the teams livelihoods.
 

Cellos88GT

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Ferrari isn't going anywhere. They've threatened to leave in the past and look, they're still here. I'm glad they are attacking the FIA on this budget cap bullshit as it is absolutely ridiculous and unnecessary. Putting a budget cap, ruins the whole point of F1 and hinders tech advancement in the sport. Attracting new teams is nice but, the FIA shouldn't cater their rules to new comers. If the teams can't afford it then they should join another series to compete in, leave F1 to the big dogs.
 

MattD1zzl3

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I dont think it would be a disaster if they left, formula one should be more focused on the future than the past. Financial problems aside, they are mote bent on being the "pinnicle of motorsport" based on heritage rather than actual innovation. Can-Am cars from 40 years ago are more exiting than modern f1 cars. They need to be ridiculous! Electric 4wd cars vs V10 turbo monsters. Anything goes! Otherwise its no better than indy or champ car: a open wheel semi-spec series.
 

Gman333-X-ferrari

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The real issue here is the budget cap. And I'm glad Ferrari have challenged the Nazi-like regime known as the FIA. And if they still don't see the seriousness of the threat then, Ferrari will leave. It's not the end of the world, Ferrari as a company will live on, and leave a great legacy, in a sport now in turmoil.

But hopefully, the communistical institute will change the rules, and Ferrari can indeed participate next year.

Putting a budget cap, ruins the whole point of F1 and hinders tech advancement in the sport. Attracting new teams is nice but, the FIA shouldn't cater their rules to new comers. If the teams can't afford it then they should join another series to compete in, leave F1 to the big dogs.
QFT.
 
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Hazardous

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Personally I think that as a concept a budget cap with increased technical freedom is not a bad idea as such because that will bring forward the engineering challenge without multiplying the costs by a factor of ten. Whether it can be policed is a completely different deal, though, and I'm not sure that it can be done. What I especially don't like is the fact that it'll be FIA policing it and making decisions on what goes and what not and by all odds lashing out completely arbitrary penalties for those.

Also, as is their way, FIA is making a complete hash of all this. The teams have been supportive of the budget cap concept and have offered FIA ways to implement it in a way that is achiveavable for them but by being stubborn and dictatorially deciding things in the way they want and at the last moment we have ended up in a situation where the big teams have no way of downscaling their operations down to the budget cap in time for next year's championhsip and by doing so they would end up with ridiculous performance disadvantages.

It's no wonder that the big teams are not happy about this and I can see them withdrawing if FIA does not change the rules. It's a lose lose situation for the big teams at the moment, either they do the massive downscaling of operation, make huge number of talented people and the massively expensive facilities redundant (at least for a while) or end up in the back of the field spending much more money than their new competitors that have an advantage by the rules that you cannot catch without spending even more money at a time where you'd desperately need to be downscaling your operation to make the cost cap for the following year.

I'm hoping the teams and FIA reach common ground on this but that said I have no doubt in my mind that if FIA refuses to change the rules the teams who have threatened to walk out will do so.
 

Buktu

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Yeah, apparently Renault is going to make a similar announcement to Ferrari's today. You just cannot make Ferrari the bad guys in this matter anymore. FIA are being stubborn and stupid, and the only possible solution is to sit down with the teams and work out a compromise that they can work with. The entry date date for the 2010 championship is May 29.. So it's not like they have the rest of the year to work this out.

Mosley wore out his welcome years and years ago.. He needs to be replaced, if they want F1 to ever become healthy again.
 
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stiggles

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If it does all go horribly wrong and the Scuderia leaves, I wonder if we would we see FXXs racing at Le Mans?
Still, I can't see Bernie wanting Ferrari to leave, because the oleaginous bastard will still want to line his pockets as much as possible, and the cash flow would be much reduced if Ferrari/Renault/whoever left. The budget cap will either be compromised into irrelevancy or dropped altogether.

Also, how many people will brick themselves when they scroll down the forum index and see 'Ferrari Leave Formula 1'?
 

Peter3hg

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I guess I am the only one who sees the teams as the bad guys in all this? A budget cap is needed and ?40m is a sensible amount. Allowing teams to carry on competing restricted if they go over the budget cap is fair. At worst it should take them a year to cut their organisations down to get under the ?40m.
Teams with ridiculous budgets have ruined F1 as a spectacle in the last 15 or so years with Ferrari and McMerc being the worst offenders. Lets have a championship where the team with the best and most innovative designers and engineers wins rather than a championship where the team with the biggest bank balance wins.
 

Peter3hg

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Biggest bank balance normally attracts the most innovative designers and engineers.
Partially. But realistically it just means that every minute detail is tested to death so you don't need good designers. Any fool can make changes and test them. Designing by trial and error is what money brings, and it makes the sport boring.
Honda's withdrawal also shows that the sport can't carry on how it is now.
 

Cold Fussion

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Honda and Toyota prove that big budgets don't equal success. Ferrari and mcmerc have much smaller budgets then honda and toyota and yet they have been kicking their ass for the last 7 years. If toyota and honda were designing by trial and error as you suggest, then obviously it hasn't worked because their temas have been utter crap. You contradict yourself which is rather annoying. While i'm at it, how are the teams the bad guys? Having 2 sets of technical regulations is beyond retarded; it would be like giving Manu or Chelsea a different set of rules to notingham forest.
 

Peter3hg

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Toyota: $445.6m
McLaren: $433.3m
Ferrari: $414.9m
Honda: $398.1m
Renault: $393.8m
BMW Sauber: $366.8m
Red Bull Racing: $164.7m
Williams: $160.6m
Toro Rosso: $128.2m
Force India: $121.85m
Super Aguri: $45.6m
McMerc and Ferrari both have bigger budgets than Honda had and they aren't exactly far behind Toyota. Toyota is an interesting case, and a good example of why the Japanese way of running things just doesn't work for F1. The Japanese like to decide by committee, whereas F1 really needs a main guy to say yes or no. The same with how Honda were for years.
There aren't two sets of regulations for different teams, that is what annoys me with all the teams bitching. If they said that the new teams get less strict rules (like they did when they switched to V10), then I would understand. But why do Ferrari HAVE to spend over ?40m like everyone seems to think? Nobody will force them to spend that much. If this comes through they have plenty of time to cut their staff down, or even start up a LMP1 project with the excess staff.
F1 has been too expensive for a long time but the big manufacturers could cope when the economy was doing well. But now the economy is down the shitter, F1 will go the same way unless drastic steps are taken such as this.
If this change doesn't happen we will be down to about 5 teams in a few years.
When the economy is recovering, then you can think about raising or removing the budget cap.
 

Buktu

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^If this change happens as it is now we will be down to 4 team by next year.

I don't get the do or die attitude, if the teams resist the current plan, it most mean that it makes financial sense to spend as much money as they do. Therefore, the financial crisis can't really be used as an argument to force this matter through the way FIA is doing it now.

You have to take it in steps. Why not see if they can agree on a 100 mil. budget cap for everyone this year, and then maybe work their way down to lower levels?

FIA are ruining F1 as much as the teams are. They are the ones in control, they should have made sure a long time ago that it wouldn't come to this. They can't just realize that now, and fuck over all the current big teams, who have been in the sport for ages.
 
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