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Apologies for not forewarning you before the weekend, but we have moved the blog to a new installation and done some upgrades to it.

Please log in to to http://www.jamesallenonf1.com to find my latest content. All the usual features will be there and you will be able to reset your RSS feeds.

This wordpress.com installation will not be used in future.

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Max Mosley has fired off another letter to the members of the FIA World motor sport council, in the wake of negative comments from FOTA members over the deal struck on Wednesday.
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Mosley wrote to FOTA president Luca di Montezemolo yesterday demanding an apology for the ‘misleading’ statements he and other FOTA team bosses had made. No apology was made at the FOTA press conference, however Montezemolo did write back to Mosley yesterday saying that he had read Mosley’s comments with amazement and pointed out how his observations had been misunderstood. Montezemolo went on to reaffirm respect for all the agreements made with the FIA.

If Mosley was unhappy with Montezemolo’s jibe about the sport not needing another ‘dictator’, he was incandescent with Toyota boss John Howett’s assertion that the FIA needed to elect someone ‘independent’ as the next FIA president. Howett meant someone with no previous links to an F1 team, in other words, not Jean Todt.

In today’s letter Mosley again encourages the FIA members to see the threat to the FIA’s standing and livelihood behind FOTA’s behaviour. To him, they want to take over.

“It is disappointing that Montezemolo did not keep his part of the bargain we made last Wednesday. I had anyway decided not to offer myself for re-election next October and, given what I have had to contend with during the last 12 months, I needed a peaceful summer before starting a more leisurely existence.

“The compromise we found was therefore acceptable to me personally and seemed in the overall interests of Formula 1. But when FOTA falsely claimed that they had ousted me and imposed their will on the FIA, the situation became intolerable. No doubt we face a difficult period. This may well result in short-term problems in Formula 1. It is possible that FOTA will set up an independent series. That is their right, provided they do so under the International Sporting Code.

“But the Formula 1 World Championship will continue to be run by the FIA as it has been for 60 years. The Championship has had difficult times in the past and no doubt will again in the future but that is no reason to hand control to an outside body, still less one with little or no understanding of sporting ethics and under the control of an industry we have constantly to monitor.

“Member clubs of the FIA from all over the world have made it clear that they will never allow the car industry to decide who may and who may not be president of the FIA,” he said.

“This has nothing to do with me as an individual, it is about the independence of the FIA and its member clubs as defenders of the motorist and arbiters of international motor sport.”

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There has been some suggestion that some of these FIA world council members might step into the limelght to have their say on the matter, presumably backing up what Mosley is saying.

Meanwhile there has been some speculation that this change of heart by Mosley may lead to the breakaway being back on, but I think we should be cautious before reaching that conclusion. Firstly I don’t detect that FOTA is too concerned with today’s developments; they are pressing ahead with shaping the 2010 rules and know that Mosley is leaving office in October. The agreement achieved on Wednesday has been voted through by the world council in any case. They see this as MM trying to create artificial tension, while arguing that the FIA needs a ‘strong’ president who is experienced in F1 – ie Jean Todt. I get the impression that not even Ferrari want him to be the president. But as Mosley points out, FOTA has no say in that vote.

We will see what exactly he means by ‘short-term problems’ in the coming weeks, I guess.

It appears that nothing has been signed yet, but the drivers which moved the situation forwards to the solution agreed on Wednesday are just as valid now as they were then. And they are largely commercial.

CVC has a big investment in Formula 1 and its options for making an exit are limited, but all roads would appear to lead to an IPO at some stage in the future. Wednesday’s agreement lays out a path for that and it’s hard to see a return to the uncertainty which threatened F1.

Renault boss Flavio Briatore touched on CVC’s role yesterday when he said of the contract with the commercial rights holder,

“It runs to 2012 but we would be interested in extending it. We need to increase the number of viewers and balance what the teams spend with what they take in. F1 should be a profit centre. Actors don’t pay to appear in films, spending more than they take in, like the Blues Brothers.”

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We are currently waiting for the FOTA dossier, which was promised last week, detailing all the ways in which F1 is going wrong under the current FIA administration. It now sounds like we might get two dossiers, the other from the FIA itself detailing its dealings with FOTA and what it describes as ‘hardliners’, looking to scupper the process.

It’s strange because you hear from both sides that there is a detailed process of meetings going on behind the scenes and yet above the surface the mudslinging is in full flow.

The FIA issued a statement on Monday morning saying that it felt progress was being made towards a solution of the 2010 entry crisis, which is threatening to rip the sport in two. Last week at a meeting, four team principals and FIA president Max Mosley discussed help for new teams, budget levels, governance and financial controls.

There is another meeting today with the finance people looking at ‘resource restriction.’ This is the new buzzword for the process by which spending is controlled. Manufacturers, especially Ferrari, find it impossible to contemplate a budget cap because of the way its internal resourcing is done with cross linking across the road and racing divisions.

However FOTA is proposing ‘resource restriction’ as a way of achieving the same result. It sounds like the two sides are not too far apart on money levels either. Another meeting is planned for this week to look at governance and the Concorde Agreement.

What is interesting about today’s FIA statement is that it accuses a faction within FOTA of being ‘handliners’, who are determined to sabotage any deal to solve the crisis. This is part of Mosley’s heavy artillery I wrote about last week. I’m hearing that it is Toyota and Renault who are in the cross hairs. The Renault president Carlos Ghosn is also the head of the European Manufacturers’ Association which got involved in the row last week, calling for the FIA to review its current administration.

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Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo made a high-profile visit to the Le Mans 24 hours today and was the official starter of the event.

His visit had been planned for some time and was highly symbolic; the Le Mans 24 hours is not sanctioned by the FIA and with the fall out over Formula 1 entries for 2010 Montezemolo was keen to show that there is life beyond the current set up in F1.

FOTA has made it clear in the last 24 hours that it wants to see reform of the way in the FIA is run and is urging the body to act against it’s president Max Mosley. Failing that, he made it clear that a breakaway remains an option.

“Everybody sees what is happening in Formula 1. I do not understand the reason,” he said. “Anyway I think our conditions are constructive, are very clear: governance, stable rules – the people don’t understand any more rules that change every six months, one day it’s KERS, another day it’s standard engines – and looking ahead to have a balance between cost and revenues, to let new commerce enter.

“I’m very pleased to have new teams, and when I say teams I mean Formula 1 not Formula 3.

“I don’t think it is possible to compete at the maximum level, I mean to try to win in too many series. I think there is Formula 1, there is racing like Le Mans, and racing in the United States which is extremely challenging – as I mentioned before, Indy or something like this.

“Our intention is to continue to participate in Formula 1 if there are the conditions. If not, as I say to our tifosi all around the world who have been in touch with us on our internet in an unbelievable way, the DNA of Ferrari is competition. If we stop in F1 we will do something else, and for sure Le Mans will be one of our first priorities.”

“There is a historical connection between Ferrari and the 24 Hours and I am glad to be here to start one of the races of which I admire the spirit of competition you can feel here,” Montezemolo said. “We have many things in common; for example the connection to the terroir: I can see the people living here and they are happy and proud to host this great event and collaborate to set it up, just like it happens at Maranello. It’s true that many years have passed since the last overall win of a Ferrari in this race and I have a dream, which is also a wish, to see sooner or later an official car starting in the race.”

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Before the Turkey weekend I flagged up that I was interested in Toyota’s performance after their alarming slump in Monaco and to some extent, Spain.

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Well Jarno Trulli had a great weekend, qualifying 5th and racing strongly against Nico Rosberg to finish fourth. Toyota are looking pretty good in third place in the championship, although you can see them possibly dropping one place to fourth when Ferrari get motoring in the second half of the season. What was hugely encouraging for Toyota in Istanbul, though, was that they kept the Ferraris behind them all weekend, despite the massive gains the Scuderia has made of late.

Here’s Trulli’s view, “We are back on track and it was good to be fighting at the front of the grid again. To return to the top five immediately after what happened in Monaco is great and it is a credit to the team, who have worked really hard to improve our performance. We were not far away from the fastest car; there is still a small gap which we will work to close but we are moving in the right direction.

“Basically it has been achieved through a lot of hard work after Monaco, by everyone in the team. Monaco is a one-off race and we felt sure our problems would not be repeated in Turkey but we didn’t leave this to chance. We had a few upgrades, with changes to the front and rear wings, which brought additional performance. Overall we improved in many areas, including the start which was fantastic for me on Sunday. Timo and I have worked together with the team to understand where we can improve and the result we had in Turkey was a nice reward for our effort. “

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Details of the 2009 motorsport business forums have been announced.

There will be three events this year, the traditional event in Monaco in December, the Middle East event in the days before the Abu Dhabi GP in October and a US event in Orlando in December.

The forums have evolved over the past five years into the leading event for discussion and debate on the major issues around the world of motorsport business. The wide ranging programme covers every area of commercial activity in the sport from sponsorship acquisition and exploitation to championship management.

I have been asked to host the Monaco and Abu Dhabi events and I’m proud to do so. Sponsorship finder par excellence Zak Brown is hosting the US event.

The line ups are being put together, but championship promoters, F1 teams, global sponsors and circuits have confirmed participation.

There are some exciting speakers from the world of F1 business including team members like Brawn CEO Nick Fry and Bobby Rahal as well as representatives of major sponsors like Hilton, UPS and LG.

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Following on from my earlier post, Frank Williams said some very interesting things on Saturday afternoon, so here they are in more detail.

He covers the current 2010 entry crisis, explains Max Mosley’s motivation, looks at the problem of engine supply if there is a split and talks about possibly housing one of the new teams on his site.
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What is the situation with FOTA, you are suspended, will you go back?

“We are out of FOTA, expelled. Normally when you are expelled, you don’t go back to school or not that one, anyway. In or out, that’s fine. If we were invited back then that would be different.”

So you are committed to the FIA?

“If there are two championships we would want to be in the FIA F1 championship.”

Don’t you want to beat the best of the best?
“Depends on who the best of the best are at any one time doesn’t it? If the manufacturers start their own championship? It’s tough s**t

“It’s not a war, there are two positions, one is the FIA (with Bernie) and the other is a group which is mainly engine manufacturers and if they don’t agree with Max they may well go and form another championship.”

What do you think of the calibre of some of the new teams making entries?
“I started at the bottom and I guess some of these teams would be starting [there] given that there is quite a big gap presently between the teams in terms of know-how and technology.”

What will you do for an engine if there is a split?
“The key feature in all of this is the supply of engines. At the last meeting before the removal of Williams from FOTA it was not lost on me that the engines on the grid today are brilliant pieces of engineering and they almost never go wrong and they last three or four times longer than Cosworth 30 years ago.”

How is the relationship with Toyota since you were expelled from FOTA?
“Tested it a little bit for the first ten minutes then it settled back to normal. We have a contract (for next year) and we would wish to continue. I don’t think the damage goes that deep. I’m very happy with an up to date modern engine. The problem with the Cosworth is that it was fine in 2006 but there’s a lot of catching up to do.”

Do you think the situation can be resolved? What will Ferrari do?
“Ferrari is a key point. The curious thing is that Ferrari is not part of the FIA camp. I don’t think anyone is going to die about this. Max doesn’t want this to turn to pooh, spread all over the papers for the next six months, what damage [people] did to F1. I think there is a will to let’s be human for a change and talk to each other.

“Max isn’t looking for a fight, he just wants to avoid having teams leave, smaller ones in particular because they cannot afford to continue. I would say that he shouldn’t worry if he has six or eight or ten entries, it doesn’t sound like hard times out there, now some of them are hoping to attract the money, but there’s one or two will turn up.”

Williams has a big workforce and state of the art equipment, how will you get the company under a £40 million budget cap?
“That’s an emotional question, because Patrick Head and I have spent quite a few years building up the business. We’ve made money, lost money.

“The next time around, after the budget cap it would make us easier to make profits and remain a healthy viable, saleable business eventually. So one part of me says it would be handy; we could do with a financial breather. But the other part of me says to dismantle Williams to get down to the £40milion I don’t know. It will mean further cuts.”

Do you see some of the new teams being taken onto the factory site of the existing teams to share facilities and so on?
“That is going to happen. We are looking closely at doing that. With a young team which has enough money to do a serious job for a couple of years. Max encouraging teams to help those teams. Normally we’d say [no]. But it’s a case of having enough good teams in case other teams do disappear and it helps us spread our costs and in the case of the budget cap we could offset some of the costs and charges onto the second team. It’s book-keeping and it’s someone else’s problem.”

HQ at Grove: Room for a small one?

HQ at Grove: Room for a small one?


How does your budget now compare with the last year when you won the world title?
“We are spending around £90 to £100 million this year. In 1997 I think we never spent more than £40 million, but we had a free engine.’

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