Zurich Gnome

The journal of a Swiss-based motor-racing enthusiast.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Yeah, right!

Stories that a number of team bosses met up in Monaco last week seem to be surfacing at the moment. Nothing unusual in that, they always have things to discuss, but this whole GPMA/FIA thing is just dragging on too long. Of course, F1 is a multi-billion dollar industry and where there are sums of money like that involved, there's always going to be political infighting. The story at the moment though, is that the infighting is not just about the money paid to the teams.

Normally, I'd be sceptical and say "Yeah, right!" but this time I'm not so sure. F1 is an expensive business, and the manufacturers would like to be able to go racing more cheaply. The FIA has initiated a series of cost-cutting measures, but, let's face it, they haven't exactly helped. Reducing the engine capacity is fine, but it means incurring new research costs. Changing tyre rules two years running isn't a great idea either.

I don't think FIAT or Renault would be too worried about losing out on an extra $50 million income, if they could cut their expenditure by $100 million. So when the manufacturers say that they are more interested in the governance of the sport than in division of income, I could, just about, believe them.

But here's the rub. If manufacturers believe there's a business case for spending $400 million each year to go racing as they do now, there's a good chance they may think that in future. Because they are interested in maximising the profit to their business, not just in having fun and going racing as you and I would. And even if costs in some areas do come down, there'll be other areas where they can spend money: simulation systems, Computational Flow Dynamics etc. both of which can cost shedloads.

On the new GPMA website there is much talk of fairness. Which implies that while they may not want to set rules that help individual manufacturers, at least they want to make sure that they don't get new rules that will work against them. Personally, I think the best way to achieve that is to keep the rules stable. But that's not going to happen is it? New safety issues will always arise, for one thing.

Anyway, let's hope that the GPMA commitment to the fans (which I read as "customers" by the way) remains as it is now. And that somehow, Grand Prix motor racing (for it may not always be called F1) isn't destroyed by petty bickering and endless rule changing. Which leaves the issue of the extra income. Would the GPMA be happy for the financial structure of the sport to remain as it is, where so much of the cash involved leaves the sport? Would they say no to that extra $50 million? Yeah, right!


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