Archive for June, 2009

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Mosley Angry Over ‘Dictator’ Accusations

June 25, 2009

It has emerged that Max Mosley is re-thinking his position as president of the FIA after FOTA’s claims that he is a “dictator”, and that they have made “deliberate attempts” to mislead the media.

Mosley said only 24 hours ago that he would not be standing for re-election in October as part of an agreement with FOTA over the 2010 budget row. Now, it seems, he is angry over FOTA’s misleading statements to the press.

Mosley issued a letter to FOTA saying that if they did not correct the false statements made against him, with an apology, he would consider his options open, meaning he may well stand for re-election in October after all.

In a letter to FOTA president Luca di Montezemolo, he said: “You have suggested to the media that I was a “dictator”, an accusation which is grossly insulting to the 26 members of the World Motor Sports Council who have discussed and voted all the rules and procedures of Formula One since the 1980s.”

He added: “If you wish the agreement we made to have any chance of survival, you and FOTA must immediately retify your actions. You must correct the false statements which have been made and make no further such statements.”

He concluded: “Given your and FOTA’s deliberate attempt to mislead the media, I now consider my options open. At least until October, I am president of the FIA with the full authority of that office. After that it is the FIA members clubs, not you or FOTA, who will decide on the future leadership of the FIA.”

The letter throws the future of the sport in the balance once again.

It is believed the letter was sent prior to FOTA’s press conference in Bologna today, with Mosley hoping a correction and apology would be given then, however, it was not. For now, we shall have to wait and see what happens next.

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FOTA Want Neutral FIA President

June 25, 2009

After yesterday’s announcement that there would be only one F1 world championship next year, and that FIA president Max Mosley would be stepping down as of October this year, the teams are hoping for a neutral president to govern the sport next.

“We would like someone independent from any of us,” was the word from John Howett, FOTA’s vice-president and president of Toyota. “It would mean a much better balance.”

The statement comes a day after Mosley agreed to stepping down as president of the FIA, despite saying two days ago he would continue to stand for election when his current term of office runs out in October.

The teams will play no part in choosing his successor, however. That is the task of the World Motor Sport Council, and former Ferrari boss Jean Todt’s connection with the presidency role would be ruled out if the teams’ calling for a neutral president was to succeed.

Yesterday, FOTA president Luca di Montezemolo, told Italian media of the deal with Mosley: “The satisfaction is that all of our requests have been accepted.” He explained that for FOTA three things are important: that F1 remains as F1, that there is no dictator and there can be a choice of rules, and that whoever has a team is consulted and has a voice.

Toyota president, John Howett, said of the agreement: “I am pleased that FOTA’s proposals have been endorsed and approved by the WMSC,” adding: “This will ensure that we move forward on the basis of stable, proper governance.”

Bernie Ecclestone said that he was “very happy common sense has prevailed.”

It was revealed today, that Renault boss, Flavio Briatore, is to work with Ecclestone to finalise details for a new contract with commercial rights holder CVC, headed by Ecclestone; and to improve the experience for the fans of the sport.

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FIA and FOTA Reach an Agreement

June 24, 2009

After what seems like a lifetime of rowing between the FIA and FOTA, an agreement was finally made in Paris today at a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, over the F1 budget cap row.

Max Mosley has said that following talks between the F1 governing body, the FIA, and the Formula One Teams Association, FOTA, a breakthrough deal has been made that will prevent the sport from splitting in two.

The news comes after weeks of rowing between the two sides, with FOTA having delivered the most recent blow to the FIA, by announcing their plans to start up a breakaway series prior to the British Grand Prix at the weekend.

After the FIA announced the plans of a £40 million budget cap to be put in place in 2010, several of the teams, including Ferrari, declared they would quit F1 if such plans went ahead. After signing up to next year’s championship, subject to conditions, eight of the current F1 teams, led by FOTA, threatened to start up a rival championship last Friday, sparking a further war of words between Max Mosley and the teams.

Since his interview with BBC’s Jake Humphrey in Silverstone last Friday, many fans have slammed Mosley’s insult, referring to many of the teams, including Renault boss, Flavio Briatore, as “loonies”, as unprofessional, calling further for his resignation from the governing body. 

And after much speculation in Silverstone at the weekend, the warring bodies, led by Mosley and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo for FOTA, met this morning in Paris.

Mosley emerged saying that an agreement had been made and that part of the agreement involved him standing down as president in October, when his current term of office ends.

“There will be no split.” He said. “We have agreed to a reduction of costs. There will be one F1 championship but the objective is to get back to the spending levels of the early ’90s within two years.” He added: “I will not be up for re-election now we have peace.”

A statement from FOTA is yet to be heard, but for now it appears the war is over, and it looks like there will be only one world championship next year, and it is likely it won’t be led by Mosley. The rules will be set to remain as the 2009 regulations.

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Vettel Victorious in Silverstone

June 21, 2009

Sebastian Vettel converted the perfect pole into the perfect win in a Red Bull dominated British Grand Prix at Silverstone this afternoon.

The young German driver produced fastest lap after fastest lap in the first stint to pull out a substantial gap to second place runner Rubens Barrichello, and eventually led home teammate Mark Webber for a Red Bull one-two, proving the high speed circuit works in favour of the RB5.

However, the British fans who descended on the Silverstone circuit to see Jenson Button make it seven out of eight wins, were left disappointed after a quiet race from the Frome-born driver. After starting from sixth on the grid, he lost three positions in the first few corners from Copse through to Becketts, but after chasing down fourth and fifth place finishers Felipe Massa and Nico Rosberg in the final stint, he managed to finish sixth.

Button, who complained of understeer throughout the race, said: “When I was on the soft tyres I had good pace. The pace in the last stint was phenomenal.” He added: “I could reel in Massa and Rosberg at the end of the race as if they were stood still”. However, Button had difficulty in passing Nico’s Williams and had to settle for sixth, proving that the new regulations put in place to increase the chances of overtaking are just not working.

Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton finished out of the points yet again, down in 16th. Despite giving fans something to cheer about by overtaking Fernando Alonso down the start/finish straight and through Copse on lap 30, he proved over the course of the race what a difference a year actually makes. It wasn’t long before Lewis was re-passed by his former teammate, and he later took a trip off the track after clipping the grass verge on lap 44. However, the Briton seemed in high spirits by the end of the race producing doughnuts for his home crowd. He said of his race: “I enjoyed it”, adding: “The fans gave me so much energy this year.”

20-year-old Roshni Mapara, from Leicester, watched the race from Hangar Straight, where Hamilton put on a show for the fans. She said: “The doughnut was amazing,” adding, “We had no idea what he was doing, he just randomly drove off the track.” As a Lewis fan, she said: “I was a bit disappointed with Hamilton, but the race was amazing.”

However disappointing it was for the fans, who turned out in their thousands hoping to see Jenson and Lewis produce good results, they still cheered Vettel to victory as he came through Luffield and Woodcote for the final time. For any driver, winning in Silverstone is something of a dream, given the track’s history, and for Vettel, victory certainly seemed sweet, proving Button needs to keep an eye in his mirrors for the second half of the season.

For some of the other drivers, the weekend was something to be forgotten. Heikki Kovalainen, who qualified in 13th in the McLaren, spent most of his race at the back of the field in 19th, and shortly after his first and only pit stop, the Finn was caught in a tussle with Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Bourdais, which resulted in the eventual retirement of both drivers.

The biggest gain came from Felipe Massa, who, having started from 11th, ran longer in both the first and second stints, and got his Ferrari up to fourth behind the Brawn of Barrichello. But despite putting on a charge off the grid in one of only two KERS equipped cars, Massa’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen had a quiet race and finished just inside the points in eighth.

For Red Bull, they leave Silverstone with their second win, and second one-two of the season. Team principle Christian Horner said after the race: “Seamless race by both of the drivers. They completely dominated it.”

Button leads the driver’s championship with 23 points over teammate Barrichello, and 25 over Vettel. Brawn continue to lead the constructor’s championship with 105 points over Red Bull’s 74.5.

With 100,000 fans turning out for the final British Grand Prix at Silverstone, the race is set to move to Donington Park next year. Rumours have been rife since last year’s British Grand Prix, where the switch was announced, that the future of the British Grand Prix would be in the balance if the owners of Donington could not come up with the goods before 2010, however, Bernie Ecclestone confirmed this weekend that there will be a British Grand Prix next year, if not in its new home of Donington Park, in Silverstone once again. So, has Sebastian Vettel gone down in history as the last ever winner of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone? Time will tell…

 

There will be a three week break until the next race in Germany. Qualifying is on Saturday 11th July, with race coverage on Sunday 12th on BBC One.

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Vettel Takes Silverstone’s Last Pole

June 20, 2009

Sebastian Vettel snatched pole position at the end of a tense quali three at Silverstone this afternoon.

In the closing stages Mark Webber, Rubens Barrichello, and Vettel all put in tremendous hot laps, with Vettel coming out on top, after teammate Webber failed to put in a faster lap to claim his first F1 pole position.

For the British fans, it was a tense afternoon, with Jenson Button almost missing out on making the top 10 shoot-out. For Lewis Hamilton fans, it was even bigger disappointment, after he failed to make it into quali two yet again, after Force India’s Adrian Sutil crashed out in the closing stages of quali one. Lewis had just started his final hot lap, when the session was red flagged with 24 seconds remaining on the clock, as marshalls helped Sutil from his wrecked Force India. Lewis will start from 19th behind Sutil in 18th.

For Button, he managed to make it into quali three, but was out-qualified by teammate Barrichello, and he’ll start tomorrow’s race from 6th on the grid.

Barrichello joins Vettel on the front row, with Webber and Jarno Trulli making up row two. Kazuki Nakajima put his Williams on the third row in front of Button in fifth.

For Ferrari, Felipe Massa will start 11th after he failed to make it into quali three, and Kimi Raikkonen will start from nineth alongside Fernando Alonso in tenth. Heikki Kovalainen continued the disappointment for McLaren and will join the grid in 13th.

For the British fans, they are certainly hoping for something special from Jenson tomorrow as Silverstone hosts what could possibly be its last race in F1, with the British Grand Prix set to be hosted by Donnington Park as of next year.

However the fight between the FIA and FOTA stands, the British fans will be descending on Silverstone for one thing: to see Button take victory in Britain, and make it seven from eight.

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The End of F1 As We Know It?

June 19, 2009

The Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) today dropped a bombshell on the F1 world: they plan to set up a rival championship, after declining to amend their original conditional entries into the 2010 Formula One World Championship.

The row between FOTA and the FIA has intensified over the last week since the FIA issued their list of competitors for 2010.

Ferrari made that list as ‘unconditional’ entrants, with McLaren, Brawn and Renault among those down as ‘conditional’. The FIA required them to amend the conditions that they had attached to their applications for next season by today, however, after four hours of talks last night ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix, FOTA came back in the early hours of the morning saying that the teams would not be lifting their conditions, and they intend to start up a rival championship.

Ferrari, Red Bull and Toro Rosso, who had made the FIA’s list as ‘unconditional’, are among the eight current F1 teams who have issued the threat. And all because the FIA want to impose a £40 million budget cap.

FOTA’s statement has shaken up the sport, and after weeks of threats from the teams, and with no compromise being made, they have taken extreme action, with many fans now saying the only solution is for the FIA to keep the 2009 regulations and enter all the current teams into the 2010 season in order to keep the sport as it is.

The row is the hot topic among many fans on Twitter, with many showing their support with Save F1 Max Out on their profiles. jayegan says: “I’m with FOTA- I’ve wanted Max out for about 3 years now.” MarkF1 says: “If a new series can keep the essence of the sport going it’s a good thing.”

The FIA, however, have issued a statement saying they plan to take immeditate legal action on FOTA, and in particular, Ferrari, who have breached their part of the Concorde Agreement, which was signed in 2007 stating their involvement within the sport until 2012. But this has sparked fury among F1 fans, with the suggestion that it was the FIA who breached the Concorde Agreement to begin with, by not consulting the teams of its plans for a change in the regulations, which in turn led Ferrari to breach their part of the contract.

The breakaway of eight teams could spell the end of Formula One as we know it, with former world champion Fernando Alonso telling the BBC: “Formula One is finished. It will be a standard engine, small teams and no drivers- this is not the Formula One people want.” He added: “The new series will be the new Formula One.”

FOTA’s statement said: “This series will have a transparent governance, one set of regulations, encourage more entrants and listen to the wishes of the fans.” It added: “The major drivers, stars, brands, sponsors, promoters and companies historically associated with the highest level of motorsport will all feature in this new series.”

With teams such as Ferrari and McLaren who have had a role in Formula One for many years- in the case of Ferrari, since the beginning- many fans may believe that F1 is the big teams, and whatever series they participate in, that is F1. If so, how long will the current F1 last? And will the FIA give in to the teams, to protect the integrity of the sport? Whatever happens, the stage is set for one of the biggest fights in the sport’s history… and it’s likely to be a lengthy fight at that… Don’t expect a resolution any time soon.

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FIA Announces Prospective 2010 Line-Up

June 12, 2009

The FIA has published the entry list for the 2010 Formula One World Championship and perhaps the most surprising teams on the list are Ferrari, Red Bull and Toro Rosso, who despite signing up to next season, “subject to conditions”, their entry is ‘unconditional’, whereas McLaren, Brawn and Renault, are ‘conditional’ entrants, even though their signing was “subject to conditions” as well.

So, how do Ferrari feel about this? Who else is on the list? And what happens next?

Since the FIA announced its plans for a budget cap of £40 million as off 2010, the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) have been opposing the plans, with teams such as Ferrari, Red Bull, Toyota and Renault threatening to quit Formula One if the regulations weren’t changed prior to them signing up for the next season. They have stated that the FIA has broken a contract called the Concorde Agreement, and failed to involve the teams with their plans for the regulation change.

The FIA required the current teams wishing to enter next season, and any new teams wishing to apply to join them, to do so before May 29th. Williams and Force India both signed up to the next season, budget cap or not, however the rest of the current teams signed up on the condition that the FIA re-evaluated their plans for the cap next year.

The FIA and FOTA have been in talks over the cap, with intentions for a compromise to be sort, with mention of staggering in the cap over the next couple of years.

However, Ferrari’s inclusion, which was top of the list, caused disappointment within the team. It appears, however, that the Scuderia may be obliged to remain within F1 until 2012 under the Concorde Agreement, hence their appearance on the list, and despite their conditional entry. 

The team have released a statement saying they will not be participating in the 2010 championship until the conditions of their entry are satisfied. The FIA say their contract to race next year is binding. The team added: “Despite Ferrari’s previous written notice to the FIA not to do so, the FIA has included Ferrari as an unconditional participant in next year’s Formula One World Championship.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, Ferrari reaffirms that it shall not take part in the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship under the regulations adopted by the FIA in violation of Ferrari’s rights under a written agreement with the FIA.”

FOTA’s conditions were that the 2009 regulations be applied to next season, and as the FIA have not confirmed the terms in which Ferrari or indeed any of the ‘unconditional’ teams have been accepted into the 2010 season on, we can only assume that they, along with Red Bull and Toro Rosso, who also entered under FOTA’s conditions, have been accepted in on that basis. Williams, Force India and the three new teams are believed to have been entered under the new regulations for 2010.

For the ‘conditional’ teams, McLaren, Brawn, Renault, Toyota and BMW, their entry into next season is still uncertain, and the final decision should be reached by June 19th following further negotiations.

For Ferrari the only way forward for them now is to take the decision to court.

Former F1 commentator for ITV, James Allen, said on his website, jamesallenonf1, today: “I expected them to be angry about what the FIA has done, here but they are not. They are disappointed, but they are not budging in their convictions nor in their path. So the positions are fairly entrenched now and it will either take a legal battle or a piece of mediation on a spectacular scale to sort this out.”

For Ferrari, this battle is far from over, and at present, for many of the other current F1 teams, their future within the sport hangs in the balance. FOTA have issued a statement saying that in their opinion this is a turn-off for the fans. They said that the conditions “have still yet to be met.”

For three of the current teams on the list, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Brawn, it has not been confirmed what engines will be provided to the cars next year, again, causing uncertainty.

However, three teams who have benefited from this argument, are the three new teams entering the 2010 season. Campos Grand Prix, headed by former F1 driver, Adrian Campos; Manor Grand Prix; and Team US F1, led by Peter Windsor. All three teams will be powered by the Cosworth engine, which will make its return to F1 since leaving at the end of 2006. Team US F1, say they are close to revealing the names of their drivers.

Prodrive, who lodged an entry for 2010, but failed to make the top 13, claim they are not giving up on joining the other teams next year. And if any of the ‘conditional’ teams do not lift their conditions, as invited by the FIA, then they could be in with a chance.

For now, the future of F1 and the line-up of the 2010 grid remains uncertain, with the question of when this will be resolved, remaining unanswered.