A short disclaimer to start out this piece: what will be reported here is mostly not news…at least, not yet. But it’s the furtherance of Ferrari’s previous threat to leave and start their own competing top-tier racing series if the budget caps were to be imposed for 2010.
Last week, it was announced that the FIA and FOTA had at last come to an agreement: Max Mosley would step down as head of the FIA when his current term expires in October, and the budget caps would not be imposed from 2010 after all. Instead, a much-less-easily-enforced clause about “bringing the costs of the sport back down to the level of the early 1990s” would be written into the contract, and the remaining teams would voluntarily curtail their operating costs in order to staunch the flow of cash from their pockets.
What would become of the three new teams (Campos Grand Prix, Team US F1, and Manor Grand Prix) that were offered slots on the grid back in the olden days when the budget cap was going to allow them to be competitive? The existing teams on the grid would act as big brothers, assisting these three newcomers financially so that they might be properly competitive with the more established teams who have much deeper pockets. Cynicism aside, it sounds like an ideal solution, right? Everyone’s happy: Max is finally gone, Luca’s done throwing fits, and everyone can race together and oh look, there’s new blood in the paddock, too! All the better for spectators, yeah?
Except…except…there are currently allegations that Manor Grand Prix’s inclusion in the 2010 grid represents a conflict of interest, because FIA Chief Steward Alan Donnelly’s company just happens to very coincidentally share a top staff member with Manor GP. Many members of FOTA also find it difficult to believe that more legitimate concerns saw ProDrive’s rejection over F3 team Manor’s, and believe instead that it’s more to do (as ever) with politicking and the FIA’s mislike of dealing with David Richards again after his stint at BAR.
But the real meat of the argument, as if all this weren’t enough, is that Luca di Montezemolo apparently called Max Mosley a ‘dictator’ in the press, and so Max is now threatening not to step down after all. And if he doesn’t step down in October, he’s made it clear that he does intend to impose the budget cap after all. In other words, he’s threatening a “take-back” and possibly also a “do-over” of the make-nice conference held last week that brought peace and harmony to the current F1 world.
Since they’re bringing it to the schoolyard level, I hereby offer the humble suggestion that Max and Luca agree to meet outside the schoolyard after classes let out. Maybe in the park or something. No weapons; hand-to-hand only. Clearly, that’s the only way this is going to get solved and us spectators can get back to the far more important matters of wondering what happened to McLaren this year and watching Red Bull Racing bring the fight to Brawn GP. Some in the New Zealand press have dubbed Max Mosley “Mad Max.” After this latest move, I’m not quite convinced that they’re very far wrong.