It's official: F1 is broken. At least, with the FOTA's announcement it will create a rival championship, it appears that F1 as we have known it is all but broken. Max Mosley and the FIA have gone back and forth with the FOTA for months, with neither side able to agree on a compromise and both sides claiming the other party is being intransigent.
After meeting at Renault's Enstone, England headquarters the eight "rebel" teams (Ferrari, McLaren, Toyota, Renault, BMW, Brawn, Red Bull, Toro Rosso) decided there was no way to proceed with the FIA, so it would proceed without the FIA. The crucial bits of their follow-up press release state:
"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.The release goes on to address issues the FOTA has with the "commercial rights holder," by which they mean Bernie Ecclestone. If they mean what they've written, a more stable and less expensive F1 would be a victory for teams and fans. Track owners would probably also profit, since they pay Ecclestone more than ten million pounds simply for the right to hold an F1 race -- and that's part of the money the teams want a bigger share of.
"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."
Many observers have said the teams won't set up another championship because they're too focused on selling cars. But the FOTA has already spoken to Carmelo Ezpeleta, whose Dorna Sports company is in charge of Moto GP, and who has experience in taking control of the series from the FIM. If he can provide a turn-key solution, the teams can stick to doing what they do best.
We suspect the FOTA is correct and that brands, sponsors and promoters will follow the breakaway series rather than hang back with Williams, Force India and eight other teams in the F1 reset series. The question is: if those eight teams follow through, and assuming they take their contracted drivers, which series will get your attention next year?
For now, though, bring on the lawyers. Thanks to all who tipped in.