Those in charge need to take charge

F1 Racing - - IN­SIDER - DI­ETER RENCKEN

Fast-for­ward three years, though, and the con­cept seems to be un­rav­el­ling: be­tween the Span­ish and Monaco GPs, the Strat­egy Group con­vened in Big­gin Hill – FOM’s op­er­a­tional head­quar­ters – only to agree vague no­tions af­ter six hours of hot air cre­ated by eight in­tel­li­gent men plus ob­servers/con­sul­tants.

Oh, they also agreed not to amend en­gine al­lo­ca­tion reg­u­la­tions, but recog­nised that For­mula 1 should re­turn to what it had once been: fast and fu­ri­ous…

The most grat­i­fy­ing as­pect though, is that the wa­ter­shed meet­ing sparked in­tro­spec­tion, with Robert Fern­ley, deputy team prin­ci­pal of Force In­dia (the ‘other’ team), later stat­ing the Strat­egy Group “is not t for pur­pose”, adding: “We need to look at a bet­ter sys­tem. In days gone by, with [FOM CEO] Bernie [Ec­cle­stone] and [for­mer FIA pres­i­dent] Max [Mosley] in charge, we knew where we stood. I don’t think that you should have teams mak­ing de­ci­sions on where For­mula 1 is go­ing. The teams should be told where For­mula 1 is go­ing.”

Red Bull’s Chris­tian Horner, an early pro­po­nent of the Strat­egy Group, went one step fur­ther in Monaco, say­ing: “Ev­ery team has their own agenda, and will ght their own cor­ner. The sport is gov­erned by the FIA and pro­moted by FOM, and it’s those guys who need to get to­gether and say: ‘What do we want For­mula 1 to be?’

“Yes we want the cars to be quicker and more ag­gres­sive to drive, but you are never go­ing to keep ev­ery­one happy. Bernie and [FIA pres­i­dent] Jean [Todt] need to get to­gether and say: ‘This is what we want the prod­uct to be, and how it is to be gov­erned – then give us the en­try form and see if we want to en­ter.’”

There, in a nut­shell, lies the root of F1’s dilemma, com­pounded by the sport’s horrically in­equitable rev­enue dis­tri­bu­tion ta­ble, as re­vealed last month by F1 Rac­ing – which sees three teams share ap­prox­i­mately 50 per cent of the team ‘pot’ while seven teams split the re­main­der, re­gard­less of ac­tual cham­pi­onship classication.

How­ever, one (non-Strat­egy Group) team boss, who spoke to us on con­di­tion of anonymity, be­lieves that: “For­mula 1 has more chance of run­ning V12 diesel en­gines than hav­ing Jean and Bernie agree on any­thing. They can’t; they are too dif­fer­ent and want to­tally dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions for For­mula 1.”

He be­lieves that un­der Mosley and Ec­cle­stone the sport our­ished sim­ply be­cause be­tween them they con­trolled the sport, and were friends who sel­dom dis­agreed – and when and where they did they quickly com­pro­mised. Thus, by im­pli­ca­tion, F1 our­ished through friend­ship founded on mu­tual need: com­mer­cial con­trol on one hand, and in­ter­na­tional stature on the other, with F1 pro­vid­ing the bind­ing agent.

Todt, though, takes a more prag­matic view of his FIA port­fo­lio, spend­ing the in­verse of the time his pre­de­ces­sor de­voted to F1 on the sport, with the bal­ance al­lo­cated to other sport­ing gen­res (WEC, WRC, For­mula E) and tour­ing mat­ters. That, frankly, bets his brief as pres­i­dent – and, do not for­get, the FIA owns F1, merely leas­ing it to FOM for an­other 100 years, al­beit at a rel­a­tive pit­tance in terms of a deal ne­go­ti­ated by Mosley.

None of which, though, helps F1 evolve dur­ing th­ese times of cri­sis – al­though there was a wel­come ‘rst step’ af­ter that cru­cial meet­ing on 14 May: the two men is­sued a joint me­dia re­lease fea­tur­ing the phrases “all par­ties” and “agreed to work to­gether”. A wel­come start in­deed, but hope­fully no V12 diesels will fea­ture in F1’s fu­ture…

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