F1-Time for Regime Change?

In Formula 1 on 23 March, 2009 at 9:55 am

A long time ago, in a sport not too different to the one we know now… A floppy-haired man in an open-necked white shirt decided that the evil Emperor who governed his sport was out of touch with the fans, and (more important in his view) the teams… He had a friend who had Legal experience and understood political machinations… Between them they organised the teams to stand together against the governing body, and forced a change where one of them took control of the money, and the other took the reins of the governing body…

Now we are in a state where the teams once more are banding together against the establishment. FOTA – the Formula One Teams Assocciation – are trying to have more of a say in the rules of their sport and at the same time, trying to extract more money from FOM – Formula One Management – in order that they might actually run all the teams at a modest profit.

Bernie Ecclestone (FOM’s spokesperson on behalf of CVC Capital Partners, who actually own it) is renowned for his ability to play hardball. His remit is to generate as much money as possible for FOM, by charging astronomical fees for hosting races that have reached a level where National Governments have to subsidise the tracks!

Even while Max Mosley (President of the FIA – the sports governing body) has been pushing through cost-cutting regulations, in order to make it easier for the smaller teams to compete with the larger budgets of the manufacturer teams, Bernie has used this as ammunition against FOTA, to say that if costs are dropping, then surely they don’t need more money from FOM, they could actually have LESS!

The teams (particularly those owned by the car manufacturers) want to be racing in North America. Currently there are no races at all on that continent!

There has even been talk of the teams staging their own race!

All these political machinations are ruining the sport I love. Last minute attempts to introduce a “Winner-takes-it-all” scoring system have thankfully been postponed, after a large number of prominent drivers and team bosses spoke out against it. The FIA promptly did a U-turn and passed the blame onto Bernie, claiming that he had assured him that all the teams were actually in favour of the idea!

There probably won’t be a regime change anytime soon, but there should be. Bernie and Max need to recognise that they have had their turn in the sun. They have both done an amazing amount of good for the sport, but if they aren’t careful, and know when to quit while ahead, they could destroy the sport and turn it into a shadow of its former self…


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