After the FIA announced the WMSC decisions taken on Monday, the F1 media, the teams, the drivers and even the past champions were in a bit of an uproar. The FIA unilaterally decided that the point system be changed so that the driver who had the most wins in the 2009 season and beyond would be the winner of the World Driver’s Championship, regardless of if he had more points than anyone else. This on top of new sweeping regulations for 2010 which would call for a voluntary team budget cap set at 42 million USD. Both of these proposals have been very unpopular with the Formula One Teams Association who have been working together to draft technical regulations for 2010 and beyond with emphasis on cost cutting and improving the show for both spectators and investors.
Both of these items ratified by the WMSC have drawn heavy criticism from the F1 press, the teams, the drivers and even a past champion. Michael Schumacher was “astonished” by the FIA imposed point system, noting that in the past when the majority wanted changes to the regulations when it was close to the start of the season, the FIA always refused. Alonso, Hamilton, Trulli and many others have slammed the new legislation put forth by the WMSC. Truli went as far as saying they should all be looking for somewhere else to race next year.
Well, now it looks like the shoe is on the FOTA foot. This afternoon, FOTA challenged the validity of the FIA’s change to the 2009 points, or should I say “point”, system. The joint press release from FOTA stated
“The amendment to the sporting regulations proposed by the World Motorsport Council was not performed in accordance with the procedure provided for by Appendix 5 of the Sporting Regulations and, as per the provisions of the article 199 of the FIA International Sporting Code, it is too late for FIA to impose a change for the 2009 season that has not obtained the unanimous agreement of all the competitors properly entered into the 2009 Formula 1 Championship.”
The press release also noted that FOTA was in unanimous agreement against the FIA’s points system.
Shortly after FOTA’s challenge, the FIA has relented on the issue and released the following ridiculous press statement.
“On 17 March, the FIA World Motor Sport Council unanimously rejected FOTA’s proposed amendment to the points system for the Formula One Drivers’ Championship. The ‘winner takes all’ proposal made by the commercial rights holder (who had been told that the teams were in favour) was then approved.
“If, for any reason, the Formula One teams do not now agree with the new system, its implementation will be deferred until 2010.”
Okay, let me get this straight. There was never once a press release from FOTA stating that they were in favor of anything close to Bernie Ecclesontes medal proposal. Far to the contrary, they commissioned a study to see what the fans wanted and based on that survey, they proposed a change to the current point system which awarded the podium a few additional points. In no way was this an endorsement of Bernie’s medal proposal. It is a ridiculous reach on the FIA’s part to say that the teams agreed in principle with the medal system.
So, for 2009, the points system shall remain 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 which is a much better alternative than the FIA’s reinterpretation of Bernie Ecclestone’s Olympic dreams. And the FIA comes out looking like morons for unilaterally creating regulations that they claim they thought FOTA was in favor of. And since they can’t truly believe their own press release, how riciculous is it for them to be trumped by FOTA telling them to read their own rulebook.
But now, FOTA heady with victory, must move on to the next challenge. Surely this points issue was just a red herring to distract FOTA away from the 2010 technical regulations. FOTA will no doubt continue to actually draft their cost cutting technical proposals for 2010 as an alternative to the FIA’s most recently ratified extreme bargaining position. And further, they will continue to gather support for their own points system proposal of 12-9-7-5-4-3-2-1 in an attempt to unseat the FIA’s newley adopted 2010 “point” system.
Is this back to business as usual? Or is this the beginning of an FIA/FOM/FOTA war brought on by the rapidly contracting economy and the continued abuse that the teams feel they are taking from a rampantly rule changing FIA and a highest bidder sanction fee extorting FOM. Only time will tell for sure, but one thing is for certain, the old maxim holds true. When the economy is bad, it is the best time to invest. Is it now the best time for FOTA to invest in a new World Championship?