The FIA-FOTA War: F1's Future at Stake

Daniel ZylberkanCorrespondent IMay 17, 2009

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 10:  Jenson Button of Great Britain and Brawn GP leads from Felipe Massa of Brazil and Ferrari during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 10, 2009 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Max Mosley has relented on the "two-tier" issue. Which I always thought was the biggest issue i the FOTA's case the FIA. The teams other than Ferrari are not necessarily opposed to the concept of budget capping. Red Bull, Renault, etc. don't agree with the 40 Million EU cap, but they are willing to work under a budget cap.

So all of Ferrari's posturing has worked, the idle threats, the "puerile grandstanding" as I've heard it called has paid off, Max Mosley relented. But FOTA stil hasn't won the war and the FIA has a huge ace in their sleeve.

But that still begs the question, what's going to happen now.

Since the cap was announced the FIA has received about a half dozen new entries to enter the World Championship. From the David Richards/Prodive entry to F3 team Litespeed and chassis manufacturer Lola. This is what Max intended to happen by implementing the budget cap system.

If they accept three new entries, the grid would swell to 26 cars. The largest its been in almost a decade.

This gives the FIA an advantage in this new session of negotiations. Mosley can say. "Look, since we've announced the budget cap six new teams have applied to be in Formula One."  A larger Formula One is almost surely a more appealing one, but 40 million Euros is too low of a budget cap.

So the new battle that the FIA and FOTA have to fight is under what terms will the new budget cap be implemented and how much larger than 40 Million Euros will it be?

I think a cap of between 80-120 million Euros would be satisfying to most parties. It allows the large manufacturer backed teams to keep a semblance of the development budget they are used to and it would allow Force India, Williams, STR and the new entries to be competitive.

If I was a team principal, and I was planning to spend about 100 million Euros for my budget. Since 40 million does not include engine development, driver salaries or other non developmental expenses. If the cap was raised to 100 million Euros to begin with, that would not change my decision to enter Formula One in 2010.

Furthermore, 40 million Euros seems to be an arbritraly picked number and seems to be extraordinarily low. As a matter of fact if the cap was around 100 million Euros, I think the new entrants would be of higher quality. As a result of a higher cap, racing would be better in the future.

Also FOTA needs to emphasize to the FIA, that in the spirit of fairness, in-season testing must be allowed to all teams not only the new entrants or teams that struggled the previous year. Development and testing during the season are the key to improving the pace of cars.

Just look at the R28 last year, Alonso and Piquet had a relatively slow car the first half of the campaign, while in the second half Alonso claimed two Grand Prix victoris and finished in the points consistently. That would not have been possibe without in-season testing and development

Another major issue that FOTA needs to stand up to Mosley against. Are the rumours that the KERS system will be mandatory for all teams next year. KERS, unless it is supplied cost free by the FIA, goes against the spirit of cost cutting Mosley has been emphasizing lately. Any rule that Mosley passes as a dictator can't be accepted, FOTA must have a say in such matters.

Although the "two-tier" system has been dropped by Mosley and the FIA. FOTA also needs to emphasize that the new entrants cannot be given any advantages over the teams that are currently in Formula One.


I'm happy that Max Mosley came to his senses and went abandoned the obviously ridiculous "two-tier" system. Avoiding a mass exodus of the large teams from Formula One, if a sane and reasonable deal can be reached a budget cap can be very good for the sport. By adding more cars to the grid and proving which teams have the best engineers and drivers. Parity is a good thing in the NFL, why wouldn't it be in Formula One?