Gone Away ~ The journal of Clive Allen in America

As Fickle As F1
I will not go into my thoughts on the FIA bowing to media pressure and starting an investigation into McLaren's alleged use of illegal team orders in Monaco; plenty is being written about the matter elsewhere and I agree completely with Mike Lawrence's article on Pitpass about it.

Bernie Ecclestone

Instead, I want to point at an interesting interview with Renault's CEO, Carlos Ghosn, as reported by Formula1sport dot net. It seems that Ghosn is not happy with the Renault team's fall from the heights and would withdraw the company from F1 if things do not improve.

Let us not forget that it was Renault's indecision about remaining in F1 that led Fernando Alonso to make other arrangements for the 2007 season. And that it was Ghosn who finally stopped the rumors by affirming the company's commitment to the sport. It seems to me that this is a very telling statement that makes clear the fickleness of manufacturers in F1.

One cannot argue with Ghosn's logic - it makes no sense for a manufacturer to be involved in F1 if it is not reaping some form of reward in the form of good publicity. To be habitually trundling around in the midfield is inviting potential car buyers to view a company's products as "not quite good enough to win". Every manufacturer has to be involved for the sole purpose of winning races, the more often, the better.

Mercedes and FIAT must be quite pleased with their investment at the moment and, no doubt, BMW are ecstatic at the unexpected pace of their team's improvement this year. But what of Toyota and Honda? How many more years can they hang on in the hope of making it to the front? There must be a point at which the board calls a halt and the F1 team is closed down. Japanese enthusiasm for the sport has given their manufacturers more stamina than most but, sooner or later, bad publicity will outweigh such considerations.

In view of all this, the future of the unholy alliance between the FIA and the manufacturers does not look so rosy. When the time comes for manufacturers to leave, will the FIA be able to adjust regulations catering for giants to once again encourage the little guys? That's assuming there are any small and independent teams left, of course. Somehow I doubt it.

But F1 is a business now, even if I continue to refer to it as a sport. And businesses come and go, rise and fall, depending on market factors. If F1 ends up in the hands of the receivers, who will be left to mourn its passing?

Motor racing will continue, whatever happens. Some other form might rise up to be considered "the pinnacle of motor sport" and we will be left only with memories of that golden age when F1 was king, had oceans of money and cars that hovered on the cutting edge of new technology. Time moves on and nothing lasts forever.

It just seems a pity that, with a little more common sense, the FIA could keep F1 closer to its sporting roots, thereby ensuring a greater longevity. Rules should never be made for the benefit of just one sector of a sport - that is a surrender of power that the FIA will regret in the end.


Number 38
I must add a sympathetic confirmation to your analysis. I have long held that the sport is gone, F1 racing in it's current state is pure business, it's no longer the 'pinnacle of motorsport'. The events are generally mere high speed parades and I like you are thankful to have "memories of that golden age when F1 was king".
Date Added: 29/05/2007

Björn Svensson
I agree with you yoyally, and sadly, this time i don't have anything in your writings to get angry or upset about. But what rises questions in my head is, what will happen to F1 if Bernie Ecclestone one day decides he have had enough? F1 may survive 5 or 10 years, but i don't think it will be easy to replace Bernie at the head of the whole circus. There are alot of motorsports that could deserve to be called "the pinnacle of motorsport", just look at the Le Mans Racing Series, or the WRC. Those cars are just as sofisticated as todays F1-cars.
Date Added: 30/05/2007

Björn Svensson
Oh, sorry...i forgot. Would it be possible for you to ad the possibillity to ad that little "checkbox" where we could be notified about updates to a specific blog-entry that was available over at F1latest?
Date Added: 30/05/2007

Gone Away
What is really frustrating, Number 38, is that F1 could still be saved as a sport if the governing body were to direct it as such. Instead, it has chosen to go the route of big business and concentrate on making money. My point is really that this is a short-sighted decision and will bring about the demise of F1 as either a sport or a business.
Date Added: 30/05/2007

Gone Away
I used to be a fan of Bernie's, Björn, back in the days when he owned the Brabham team and battled the FIA in his capacity as chairman of FOCA (Formula One Constructor's Association). Since then I have become disenchanted as I have watched him extending his power within F1 until it seems he rules almost everything. I do not deny that he has done much good for F1 but he has also turned it into the money-making machine that we now see. And it is not healthy for any organisation to concentrate so much power and influence in the hands of one man - he is often called "Mr. Formula 1". The result is that nobody knows what will happen to F1 when he finally retires - and the likelihood is that things will only get worse - at least Bernie knows what F1 is from the ground up. As regards the feeds to this blog, the usual RSS feed is supplied by clicking on the button labelled "XML RSS" at the bottom of the page. There is no way of being notified of updates to the comments system, however. The entire blog program was built from scratch by my web developer son, Mad, and we add functions as they become necessary and when he finds the time to implement them. He has almost completed construction of the new F1 blog and I will mention to him that a comment update feed would be a great addition when he can get around to it.
Date Added: 30/05/2007

Alianora La Canta
Carlos Ghosn is simply being consistent with his position on the F1 team - he has said that its survival was and would continue to be dependent on results since before he became president. As it stands, I think Renault will weather this particular storm. Honda will, even if it does so by concentrating on the racier Super Aguri. But Toyota is unlikely to remain by the end of the decade. Spyker might not even last that long, since the F1 team is rumoured to be propping up the car company financially (somewhat precarious, given F1's money-devouring ways!) This pattern is likely to repeat as more manufacturers reach the end of their patience with F1's inequalities. There are no independents remaining in F1 - apart from two teams owned by the soft-drinks conglomerate Red Bull (which is there purely for the marketing), all F1 teams are owned by manufacturers. Prodrive has near enough admitted that it will be someone's B-team. The FIA has had to become a business because there are no longer any sporting teams. The FIA can blame itself for this, since it wrote and re-wrote the rules to the benefit of the moneyed teams. The current structure is not sustainable, and since the back-up option has been removed, F1 is at risk of collapse at some point between 2011 and 2020. Bernie's death may well precipitate that collapse, since he will leave behind a confusing array of companies, none of which truly control the sport. My guess is that MotoGP will become the successor to the "pinnacle of motor sport" title, but if an entrupener starts a successful alternative to F1 in the single-seater arena, that will take the title instead.
Date Added: 30/05/2007

MotoGP for the win!
Date Added: 30/05/2007

Gone Away
A very sound assessment, Alianora. Williams is usually cited as the one remaining independent team but in all probability it will become Toyota's main effort in the sport in similar fashion to Honda and Super Aguri as outlined by you. Red Bull strikes me as being somewhat of anomaly - it is neither a manufacturer nor an independent, being more of a marketing exercise as you say. But it functions in very much the same way as a manufacturer team, using its financial clout to assemble a competent team of designers and engineers, rather than doing it the hard way and learning by experience. Effectively, the independents are extinct. I think F1 became a business well before the FIA caved in to the manufacturers. For years Bernie has squeezed every last drop of money out of circuit owners and television companies. Why? To make the show bigger and better, we're told, so that even more money can be made. It becomes a cycle of ever-increasing demands and makes me wonder where it will end. Max has collaborated with Bernie in changing the rules for the same purposes, although with less success, since most F1 enthusiasts regard the current rules as spoiling the show rather than enhancing it. He makes noises about helping smaller teams but legislates to serve the big ones and is now quite open in his desire to see F1 as the preserve of the manufacturers. As to what will follow the demise of F1, I know that something will, even if it is a return to pre-F1 days when there was no organised championship and the rules were much less defined. I doubt that it will be MotoGP, however, as someone is bound to realise its money-making potential in time and take the F1 route in destroying it utterly.
Date Added: 31/05/2007

Gone Away
MotoGP is very entertaining, Mad, but it has one problem - those guys race on only two wheels!
Date Added: 31/05/2007

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