F1 – FOTA’s Gambit

fotaWe here at Open Paddock have been pretty shy about jumping on the F1 media train for the last couple months since the politics of F1 have overshadowed the racing. But this situation has finally come to a head, so let’s discuss.

Is this a page out of Max’s handbook of extreme bargaining tactics, or is that FOTA’s final word?

Max has become a broken record when it comes to negotiations. He comes out with a monstrously extreme position that is only intended to make the other bargaining party enter the negotiations farther from where they actually want to be. It is Max’s way of ensuring that compromise is more of a 70-30 proposition instead of 50-50.

That said, does FOTA truly intend to abandon F1 or are they really fishing for Max to come back to the table and actually negotiate with them. The only thing Max has given to the teams in these negotiations has been the removal of the two tier championship idea. Other than that, the budget cap has stayed the same and all of FOTA’s concerns about rules and governance have been met with a terse suggestion from Max that FOTA enter unconditionally and then we can negotiate.

But, we have seen Max’s response already. The entry list will come out today. So if this was a bid by FOTA to get Max to seriously come to the table, then that has failed. But knowing how stubborn Max has become since his sexual proclivities were brought in the limelight, FOTA had to know that they couldn’t just bluff about something like that.

FOTA would have been very foolish to threaten this breakaway without the support of their existing sponsors and potential investors. With the flagging economy and with the uncertainty of a new series, it will still be hard to gain the necessary investments and sponsorship to not only start the series, but also run their teams in the new series. So from the money aspect, they have a very difficult road ahead.

But I think the fans of F1 are behind the teams in this endeavor. They have watched as traditional grands prix were replaced with high tech glitterati in the dessert and the far east where the locals prefer to ignore F1’s existence. The fans have watched ticket prices escalate beyond comprehension. They have watched as the rules have been remade on a yearly basis. They have watched the spectacle of F1 become diluted by the FIA’s attempts at making F1 a spec series.

If FOTA can come up with an attractive calendar filled with events at F1’s discarded historic tracks like Montreal, Imola and Silverstone along with existing F1 tracks like Monza (they will follow the Ferrari’s) and Monaco (ditto), then they will easily be able to declare a victory over F1.

If you wish to compare the potential ruin of grand prix racing to the CART/IRL split, then let’s talk apples to apples. There is no single venue in F1 that has the clout of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. If anything, F1 has gone out of its way to lower the bargaining power of its traditional tracks. While Monaco is one heck of an event, it alone will not be able to determine the outcome of this split. The only thing that compares to the IRL’s ace in the hole in this kerfuffle is Ferrari. “Luigi only follows the Ferrari’s”

I think a better comparison to US open wheel racing would be the CART/USAC split. USAC managed the national championship poorly and the teams wanted a series that matched the glamour of its pinnacle event. The team owners took it upon themselves to start this new series and were very successful at it for a few decades. Unfortunately, having the teams write the rulebook had its own consequences.

Is FOTA1 going to be a legitimate series? Well, that remains to be seen, but it has all the potential to win the worlds attention away from the FIA’s F1.

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