Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mosley's Crusade

Ferrari's latest salvo at the FIA is thinly disguised as a complaint about the poor quality of F1 teams added to the sport for 2010.

Now to be fair, Ferrari has a point. Let's look at who they picked:
  • USF1, backed by Peter Windsor and with YouTube money. On paper this looked fabulous, especially when combined with American engineers with something to prove. However it turns out that progress has been lacking and money to continue isn't forthcoming.
  • Campos Meta, a spanish organization that was going to pay Dallara to design and build cars. This operation also had money problems, and is currently existing only thanks to an emergency infusion of the YouTube money that has deserted USF1.
  • Manor Racing, which might or might not have been taken over by Virgin.
  • Lotus, an operation bankrolled by the Malaysian government.
So of the four, Virgin and Lotus are the only ones which don't have immediate cash flow issues.

And while the car unveiled by Lotus was disappointingly basic, it is a F1 car and it is turning (some) testing mileage.

Two from four is not a very good batting average for what is supposed to be a premiere motor sport. Even though the FIA claimed they had done their due diligence on the applicants, it clearly wasn't enough.

Let us remember that all this came about because Mosley wanted to turn F1 into a much cheaper sport to participate in, and in the process of having a showdown with his established teams, brought on a collection of new teams to fill up his entry list. It is worth remembering that the F1 regulations for 2010 are a compromise from his budget-based F1, meaning while the existing teams have to reduce their budgets somewhat, the new teams are suddenly looking at battling established competition which will be spending more than they had anticipated when signing up. I doubt many in either camp were particularly happy.

As I mentioned, if either USF1 or Campos (or both!) fail to be in Bahrain, it will be a black eye for the FIA, although one which can be placed squarely at the feet of the now departed Max Mosley.

While Virgin and Lotus will probably be much more fragile and off the pace than the other series regulars, their presence will serve as a foundation for their future growth -- assuming they can find someone to fund it.

Ferrari also complains about Stefan GP, which has picked up the abandoned pieces of Toyota's F1 program and is lurking about in the bushes waiting for one of the anointed four to fail. This I think is more F1 business as usual -- there are always an assortment of marginally crazy people trying to get in. Every circus needs a sideshow.