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Ferrari Clearly Want To Stay, But Also Want It On Their Terms

Ferrari Clearly Want To Stay, But Also Want It On Their Terms

In a follow up to my previous post about the FIA and FOTA failing to reach an agreement over the proposed 2010 regulations that will see a voluntary £40m budget cap introduced, I thought I would take a moment to try and decipher Ferrari’s angle on this affair. Without doubt Ferrari are to Formula One what Manchester United are to the Premier League – Ferrari are a big organisation that command a huge following and generate a lot of money and put a lot of bums on seats. But there is more to them than you think…

Ferrari is also a car company that produce luxury sports cars. Of note, they are quite the exception to the general automobile industry at the moment as it was recently reported that profits at Maranello are only very slightly down on the same period twelve months ago. Where the entire industry is panicking and closing down factories, Ferrari are actually still making a fair amount of money.

But this aside, Ferrari are also an older company and have competed in every year that Formula One has existed. From the first season in 1950 right through to the most recent race, Ferrari have been there, mostly in their famous Rosso Corso colour. There were one or two races when the team changed to blue, but that is because of another dispute many years ago.

So one could argue that because of their ability to generate money, their history and most importantly because of their own desire, Ferrari should remain in Formula One. The two are very closely associated, and although Ferrari has in the past and could in the future participate in a different form of motor sport, Formula One will still likely be considered the pinnacle, and therefore attractive to the top brands.

There is another reason why Ferrari may want to remain in the sport as well. You see, while Stefano Domenicali* was at Heathrow earlier today discussing the budget cap matter with FIA president Max Mosley, Ferrari lawyers were applying for an injunction in the French courts to stop the FIA from pushing through its new rule. The reason for it happening in the French courts is because the FIA are based in Paris. The reason for Ferrari starting this process is even more interesting.

It was stated recently by Bernie Ecclestone that Ferrari do get special treatment in the sport. It turns out that should Ferrari win the constructors title, they get an extra £80m on top of what other teams would get should they win the title. This preferential treatment didn’t cause the stir among the other teams that would normally have been expected, indicating that it is common knowledge inside Formula One.

And now it has become apparent that Ferrari also have the right to veto any future technical regulations. In other words, they have to okay them before they happen. As Ferrari are seeking an injunction, one can presume Ferrari believe this process was not followed by the FIA when they announced the introduction of the budget cap plan. Joe Saward of Grandprix.com has mentioned this agreement regarding the vetoing of rules on his personal Formula One blog, and as it is new to me, I thought I would share a little with you.

The legal argument is apparently based on an agreement that was made in January 2005 between Ferrari, the FIA and Formula One Management.

[…]

The details of this agreement have never been made public but it seems that it included not only a substantial payment each year to Ferrari, but also a veto on the technical regulations in the future. According to our sources, the document even stated that if the new agreement was not validated by all the other teams, the old Concorde Agreement would prevail. Joe Saward.

Joe goes on to say that during the course of the meeting, Max Mosley was willing to raise the budget cap and introduce a “a glide path”, which presumably means a sliding scale whereby the cap would decrease by a set amount each year. However, the meeting apparently didn’t get much further than this as Ferrari and Toyota brought up the legality of the introduction of the rule and refused to back down on this point. They wanted the 2010 regulations cancelled in their entirety.

We can therefore presume that Ferrari believe they have a strong case; an organisation like Ferrari wouldn’t just go to the courts on a whim. However, the fact that Ferrari have this power in the first place is interesting enough. Despite all the possible points one could discuss right now (feel free to in the comments), this does show that Ferrari do want to stay in Formula One. A team wouldn’t bother wasting money on seeking an injunction and enduring the possible embarrassment if it wasn’t granted if they wanted to leave.

Max Mosely believes the same as well, stating as much to Autosport after the meeting. However, Max also believes that Ferrari won’t go through with their threat of leaving the sport and expects them to lodge an entry, either before the deadline or after. From what I can work out from all the quotes and new insights into Ferrari’s position in the sport, it would seem quite the opposite. Yes, Ferrari do want to stay. But if it cannot be done on their terms, then they will leave.

Needless to say, Formula One just got a whole lot more intriguing. Politically, anyway.

*As a footnote to this post, it should be noted that Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali was representing the team today instead of FOTA and Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo. Although Luca was meant to be present, his father passed away yesterday. I would like to extend my condolences to the Cordero di Montezemolo family at this sad time.

Oliver White

9 comments

  • So my belief that the old Concorde Agreement prevails is confirmed, Ferrari turn out to have veto powers that, along with the Sporting Working Group/Technical Working Group duo, were ignored and Max still thinks his interpretation of the budget cap is valid? No wonder there were so many #maxout tags being added to the end of Twitter messages today…

    Ferrari, as far as I can see, have a watertight case. This is going to make a total mess of the 2010 plans and I suspect the 2009 regulations will have to be used next year completely unaltered.

  • No wonder there were so many #maxout tags being added to the end of Twitter messages today…

    Oooh, are you on Twitter? *Ollie goes off searching…*

    Edit: Found you! 🙂

  • Ferrari, as far as I can see, have a watertight case. This is going to make a total mess of the 2010 plans

    And once again, the casual fan is being punished. What on earth are people thinking of Formula One right now? It seems like a complete farce where a competitor has to seek an injunction just to be listened to. I’m not saying I agree with Ferrari’s power here, but at the end of the day, they have it, and it seems as though the FIA have ignored it.

    It’s just so embarrassing. Every time a Formula One related conversation springs up at work, it is centred around the most recent issue that has hit the headlines. “Diffusers are legal and now it’s going to some higher court?” “Trulli was punished, but Hamilton lied, and now there’s another meeting to decide what to do. I’m completely lost on what is happening.” I could quote all night long…

  • The reason the teams did not object to Ferrari’s special agreement with the FIA was that they had already used up all their aces. Ferrari had been a part of the threat to set up a rival series along with all the other teams until the FIA bribed the Italian team into staying with the special clauses – basically extra yearly payments and power of veto over new regs.

    With Ferrari gone, the teams’ threat became empty and any chance of fighting the special clauses went too. What more could they have threatened?

    This time Ferrari is not only on board, it is leading the drive to get rid of Max. Apart from Toyota, the other teams might have been prepared to accept Max’s offer to introduce the cap over a number of years but Ferrari wants blood – hence the court case in Paris. And the teams will stick with Luca; they would dearly love to be rid of Max too and this is the best chance they have had to do so.

    If Ferrari wins, Max may appeal as much as he likes but his plans for 2010 and his deadlines are blasted apart. The wannabes waiting in the wings might as well go home and wait for next year in that case.

  • I think now we’ll see just how much does Ferrari weights.

    I’m betting a lot more than Max. And finally, the teams appear to have woken up and realized that FIA has absolutely no right to make the rules of F1!!!

    And for the casual fan argument, the casual fan couldn’t be less bothered with all this. Do you really think the casual fan cares about all of this? He doesn’t. Because he’s a casual fan!

    So let’s stop the farce about the casual fans not understanding the sport. They don’t, and they don’t care. Why should we, the teams, or the FIA care? They will be going to the races and buying caps nonetheless.

  • Oh, and politics has always been a part of F1, let’s be honests here, we not only watch the races, we love the twists of the political battles also.

  • Hi don’t want to talk about Ferrari however a real fan would know that the traditional colour is “rosso corsA” -racing red- as in

    “The 12-cylinders are represented by the 599 GTB Fiorano, exhibited in a traditional Rosso Corsa livery”

    Corso is either a large street in big cities or a training…

    So not many true fans of “la rossa” here 😉

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