Friday, June 19, 2009

FOTA Split: What Comes Next?

Friday 19th June 2009

Now that FOTA have finally lost patience with the FIA there is going to be a whole host of consequences. Andrew Davies ponders the things that immediately spring to mind...

* Max Mosley's bid to get teams to run on £40m a year (+ drivers + marketing) has always seemed out of touch with big money worldwide sports models. Spanish football club Real Madrid have a revenue of £290m and that's without a major showing in the Champions League. With a lot more sponsorship and global exposure, F1 has a far greater earning potential.

* What seemed like a too-early bid to abandon ship by Lola cars - when they announced that they were withdrawing their F1 application midweek - seems quite a good move now. Because they can join the FOTA grid, which (providing it has all current eight teams) will be the series people will want to watch next year.

* Will David Richards' ProDrive and Epsilon follow suit? And can any of the new teams raise enough money based on the fact that the series will not have the charismatic names associated with F1?

* Vijay Mallya looks like he might be shipwrecked in a sub-GP2 series, stranded like a beached whale now that the tide has gone out. Frank Williams was stuck whatever the case. He was already heavily involved with the FIA by manufacturing the chassis for their F2 series and sounded like he had already been advanced cash by Bernie for running in 2010. Mallya, who was thought to be funding his F1 dream from his industrial fortune, gave the excuse that he had various banking covenants that obliged him to sign up. How much is his team worth this morning...?

* In any divorce case there are bitter arguments over possessions. The biggest question of all will be: Who gets Monaco? F1 will have it for the foreseeable future, but can FOTA sneak a race in at the track the week after or the week before the race?

* Porsche were said to be looking at a bid to join F1 in its new revamped form. The makers of the world's favourite sportscar and the world's most pointless 4x4 were quick to distance themselves from the European Car Manufacturer's Association condemnation of the FIA last weekend. So it looks like the suck-ups have backed the wrong horse.

* Bernie's lawyers will have cancelled all holiday.

* Max Mosley's assertion that F1 could survive without Ferrari will now be put to the test. Presumably if the FIA chief believes this, then they won't be too fussed about FOTA forming their own series.

* FOTA's statement includes the reassuring phrase: "The major drivers, stars, brands, sponsors, promoters and companies historically associated with the highest level of motorsport will all feature in this new series." The thing they can't say is that they will be able to race at all the same circuits. Actually, there is one promoter they might not get along with - the guy responsible for Turkey and Hungary - short guy, getting on a bit, very tall ex-wife, lovely daughters...

* Donington's loss is Silverstone's gain. There must be real doubts over Donington's future if this series goes ahead. Who is going to invest in a £100m debenture scheme when the prestige event, the F1 British Grand Prix, will be a combination of two of the weakest F1 teams, some GP2 teams, some F3 teams and some Touring Car teams?

* Bernie Ecclestone's deliberate sidelining of Silverstone has provided the new FOTA series with a world-class historic race venue that is not contractually tied up with F1.

* Nico Rosberg will almost certainly have his wish to become F1 World Champion come true if he stays with Williams.

* CVC Capital Partners, the venture capital firm that owns the commercial rights to F1, won't enjoy reading the papers this morning. They will presumably want to know why FOTA made a reference to money owed to the teams which has further exacerbated the dispute. FOTA said: "Furthermore, tens of millions of dollars have been withheld from many teams by the commercial rights holder, going back as far as 2006." Presumably CVC know the reasons for Bernie withholding this money...?

* Pepsi Max brands itself on giving the maximum taste. Conversely Max F1 will have minimum driver personalities. Pity the organisers of the European GP in Valencia. They have paid a ton of money for a grand prix that will not feature Fernando Alonso for the foreseeable future.

* If this series goes ahead, Max Mosley will at least have shed his image as the man who likes to be flayed in cellars. He will be known very simply as the man who killed F1.

Andrew Davies

Source : Planet F1

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