Thursday, May 14, 2009

High Noon: Max vs Luca

Wednesday 13th May 2009

So it's High Noon in Place de la Concorde. Or Maranello City. But most probably a nondescript hotel near Heathrow. The two meanest gunslingers are in town for a showdown. The FIA want a £40m budget cap and two tiers. FOTA want no tiers and sensible, phased cost reduction.

The stakes are high.

Max is staking his FIA presidency on it. If he were to back down now he'd be made to look a shambolic hustler. He's pushed through the budget cap measures at a hastily arranged McLaren disciplinary meeting, ignoring all kinds of protocols and carefully worked out structures. He's even ignoring the veto Ferrari get on all technical regs as set out in the Concorde Agreement. (It was that Ferrari signature that broke up the rival GPWC and allowed Bernie to sell F1 to a venture capitalist.)

In return Di Montzemolo is staking Ferrari's F1 future involvement. John Howett of Toyota is also there on the sidelines ready to jump in and take over Luca's smoking gun if required. Bernie Ecclestone is a worried observer fearful that he'll have no glamorous F1 grands prix to sell to Kazahkstan or Paraguay.

Who will win?

Because there is going to be a winner and a loser here. Ignoring the fact that Mosley could have all kinds of legal challenges to the way he's gone about implementing change, he's pitched his staff like Gandalf in Lord of the Rings and said - "£40m - you shall not pass!"

Montzemolo has got so fed up, not with just the substance of the changes, but with the way the FIA has ignored all kinds of agreed steps that something major has to change. Because he can't trust Max not to get together another emergency world motorsport council meeting and railroad something else through.

No team wants to see a two-tier Formula 1 with the winners and losers decided arbitrarily by where the FIA place the advantage. What's more, the 2009 technical changes have focused attention on just how easy it is for one small inflection of the rules to destroy a whole winter's development work.

It looks like Mosley will have to give up his two-tier system or face a mass exodus from the big teams. If he does cave in and also moves the budget north of £40m or allows more items free-of-charge, then he's lost the argument.

Max's final legacy to F1 could be...No F1.

Our money's on Montezemolo.

Source : Planet F1

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