FOTA Breakaway Calendar

The Guardian has an article today with the proposed schedule for th Formula One Breakaway series, and it looks like a doozy with some great circuits on offer.

The full FOTA 2010 schedule, as published in The Guardian, is as follows:

7 March Buenos Aires Argentina Last hosted F1 in 1998
21 March Mexico City Mexico Last hosted F1 in 1992
11 April Jerez Spain Last hosted F1 in 1997
25 April Portimao Portugal Never hosted F1
2 May Imola San Marino Last hosted F1 in 2006
23 May Monte Carlo Monaco Current F1 host
6 June Montreal Canada Last hosted F1 in 2008
13 June Indianapolis United States Last hosted F1 in 2007
11 July Silverstone United Kingdom Current F1 host
25 July Magny-Cours France Last hosted F1 in 2008
15 August Laustizring Germany Never hosted F1
29 August Helsinki Finland Never hosted F1
12 September Monza Italy Current F1 host
26 September Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates Current F1 host
10 October Marina Bay Singapore Current F1 host
24 October Suzuka Japan Last hosted F1 in 2006
7 November Adelaide or Surfers’ Paradise Australia Last hosted F1 in 1995/Never hosted F1

More News over the next couple of days.  Todays update is that the FOTA president appeared in front of the WMSC today and told them unequivocally that the breakaway series will go ahead.

It seems like the FOTA teams are adamant that the budget savings are needed and that it;s the huge slice that F1 Commercial Rights holder gets that they want o get rid of!  Roll On FOTA!


Formula One Hits Self Destruct Button

The Self destruct Button was well and truly thumped last night when the deadline passed for unconditional entries into the 2010 Formula One series without all but one of the big teams being signed up for 2010.

The FIA and FOTA have been wrangling for years about the commercial, political and technical management of Formula One.  This has all come to a head recently, when FIA president, Max Mosley tried to enforce a budget cap on the teams. This budget cap is perceived by Mosley to be critical to the survival of the sport as the huge largess of the teams is not considered by him to be appropriate in the present financial climate. The teams all fight back with claims that their budgets are huge due to the large volumes of rule changes which Mosley makes to try and make the sport more entertaining.

In addition to budget constraints, it is clear that Max has been trying over the last few years to homogenize the cars to a single chassis, single engine series and with most of the big manufacturers either being or being sponsored by car companies with their own engines, it is clear that this was always going to end in tears.

FOTA announced last night that they are dismayed that their arguments against the budget caps have been ignored and they announced that they would begin planning a breakaway series with immediate effect:

Silverstone, 18 June 2009 – Since the formation of FOTA last September the teams have worked together and sought to engage the FIA and commercial rights holder, to develop and improve the sport.

Unprecedented worldwide financial turmoil has inevitably placed great challenges before the F1 community.  FOTA is proud that it has achieved the most substantial measures to reduce costs in the history of our sport.  

In particular the manufacturer teams have provided assistance to the independent teams, a number of which would probably not be in the sport today without the FOTA initiatives.  The FOTA teams have further agreed upon a substantial voluntary cost reduction that provides a sustainable model for the future.

Following these efforts all the teams have confirmed to the FIA and the commercial rights holder that they are willing to commit until the end of 2012.  

The FIA and the commercial rights holder have campaigned to divide FOTA. 

The wishes of the majority of the teams are ignored. Furthermore, tens of millions of dollars have been withheld from many teams by the commercial rights holder, going back as far as 2006. Despite this and the uncompromising environment, FOTA has genuinely sought compromise.

It has become clear however, that the teams cannot continue to compromise on the fundamental values of the sport and have declined to alter their original conditional entries to the 2010 World Championship.

These teams therefore have no alternative other than to commence the preparation for a new Championship which reflects the values of its participants and partners.  This series will have transparent governance, one set of regulations, encourage more entrants and listen to the wishes of the fans, including offering lower prices for spectators worldwide,   partners and other important stakeholders.  

The major drivers, stars, brands, sponsors, promoters and companies historically associated with the highest level of motorsport will all feature in this new series.

Note to Eds: Statement issued by FOTA on behalf of BMW-Sauber, BrawnGP, Scuderia Ferrari, McLaren-Mercedes, Red Bull Racing, Renault, Scuderia Toro Rosso, Toyota.

The FIA responded in what is becoming standard Formula One practice with the words ‘See you in Court’.  At the heart of this threat are the private agreements that the FIA have direct with some of the teams to be involved in the sport in the future.

Particularly interesting is the fall from grace of Ferrari, who has previously been able to exert some kind of mystical hold over the sport, with the press release on the FIA website summing up the FIA position:

19/6/2009 The FIA’s lawyers have now examined the FOTA threat to begin a breakaway series. The actions of FOTA as a whole, and Ferrari in particular, amount to serious violations of law including willful interference with contractual relations, direct breaches of Ferrari’s legal obligations and a grave violation of competition law. The FIA will be issuing legal proceedings without delay.

So far, the spinoff series is likely to involve:

  • BMW Sauber;
  • Brawn GP;
  • McLaren;
  • Renault;
  • Red Bull Racing;
  • Ferrari;
  • Toro Rosso;
  • Toyota.

It’s not presently clear what the position of Williams is in all this.  They alone of the FOTA members have submitted an unconditional entry for next year.

This may simply be that they have nothing to lose: Without a championship winning car for the last few years, this may be a great way to get back to the front of the grid if the present big guns go elsewhere.

What remains to be seen is if the breakaway series becomes the new motorsport pinnacle. With the FIA controlling budgets, technical innovation, pre season testing, engine performance and tires, the thing this is clear is that the breakaway series looks like it might be able to bring back the true innovation that in the past has bought us 6 wheels cars, side skirts and a host of other groundbreaking performance enhancing parts.

We certainly live in interesting times – May be wise not to book seats for a 2010 F1 venue just yet!