You'd have to search pretty hard to find an environment more competitive than Formula One. Sure, any sport (motorized or otherwise) is inherently competitive, but imagine if, say, football teams were each required to not only hire and train their own players, but also design and manufacture their own footballs, helmets and other essential equipment – a fresh batch each year to meet changing regulations, with costs measured in the tens of millions – and then take them on the road from game to game with no home field. Then imagine that their revenues were directly linked to how they performed from one year to the next, and you can start to understand how competitive things can get between the individual teams participating in the series.

Little wonder, then, that there's historically been little unity between the teams. So it should come as little surprise, either, that the Formula One Teams Association has officially disbanded. FOTA was founded in 2008 as an advocacy and collective bargaining group to represent the various teams and speak on their behalf in a united voice in negotiations with the FIA and Formula One Administration. It was initially presided over by Luca di Montezemolo until Ferrari withdrew its membership, and then by Martin Whitmarsh until he was sidelined by McLaren.

FOTA made headlines when it threatened to leave F1 and form a break-away Grand Prix World Championship in June 2009. The threat worked and the teams got what they wanted from the FIA and Formula One Administration, but the next month, Ferrari, Sauber, Red Bull and Toro Rosso left the organization over disagreements regarding cost-cutting measures. Williams and Force India, which had previously left, rejoined a couple of months later, and the organization continued to represent seven of the teams for the next few years, but after years of in-fighting and disagreements over which direction to take, FOTA recently issued the following statement on its website:

As of the 28th of February 2014 FOTA will be disbanded, as a result of its members' having re-evaluated their requirements in the face of a changing political and commercial landscape in Formula 1.


FOTA wasn't the first attempt to represent the teams' collective interests in discussions with series organizers. The former Formula One Constructors Association (FOCA) was founded in 1974 by independent teams like McLaren, Williams, Brabham, Lotus, Toleman and Tyrrell. Bernie Ecclestone was its chief executive and Max Mosley its legal advisor, and it ultimately turned into the Formula One Administration we know today.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 7 Comments
      jonwil2002
      • 10 Months Ago
      IMO F1 should return to what it used to be, an "anything goes" top-tier racing league. Get rid of the restrictions on engine size/cylinder count/forced induction/revs. Get rid of all the aero restrictions and the restrictions on ground effect cars and down-force and stuff. Get rid of the rules on brakes, KERS and other technologies. If there is concern about spiraling costs, just impose a spending cap on the amount of money each team can spend on the car and driver and let them choose how to spend it. And keep the rules stable without all the constant changes. Impose rules for safety (helmets, harnesses, those things that keep the neck from moving forward violently in a crash, fire suits etc etc) but otherwise, let the teams have at it.
        davido
        • 10 Months Ago
        @jonwil2002
        Once upon a time (50's through the 60's), private teams could go racing with top shelf equipment bought from manufacturers (Rob Walker and others). In the 70's and 80's teams could build a car, buy a Cosworth engine for it and race that way (Shadow, Penske, Toleman, Hesketh). Once computerization took hold along with sophisticated aerodynamics, this became and has remained a very expensive sport where only the richest teams can afford to compete for points much less podiums. Now, cost caps seem to be the only way to produce full competitive fields. One of the reasons FOTA broke up, as I understand it, is that the richer teams don't want cost caps. That works so long as the series can survive with 8-10 cars on the grid (and race in front of empty stands in the Middle East and parts of Asia). If it can't, then cost caps are needed. What the rich teams seem to want is a full grid but with only 8-10 competitive cars. But the poorer teams are losing interest in spending 50-75m/year to run in the bottom half of the field and they are also having trouble finding sponsors who want to pay for them to do that. There isn't much pride in finishing tenth. FOTA was a structure that should have allowed the teams to work this out. Apparently it can't be worked out. I guess we'll see what happens when the teams that can't afford this sport have to leave it and the sport has to figure out how to keep tens of millions of fans interested in 10 car grids.
      Cool Disco Dan
      • 10 Months Ago
      Any one else see the destruction of F1 taking shape? With Bernie looking at jail time and the constant rules changes dissolution of FOTA and other issues its kinda looking like there is about to be a major shift.
        akitadog
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Cool Disco Dan
        Unless you're really CDD, you need to stop co-opting his street name. It's unoriginal, and it's insulting to the real Dan.
        davido
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Cool Disco Dan
        If we're lucky it will be a soft landing, more like what's happened to sports cars since the end of Group C and less like what's happened in Indy Car (spec cars and engines).
      ken
      • 10 Months Ago
      They should separate the sport into three separate series: drivers only (with same cars), chassis challenge (unlimited of technologies), and endurance races. There is no point of keep reining technological advances to accommodate the slower & poorer teams.
        davido
        • 10 Months Ago
        @ken
        It's really easy to argue for unliited technologies when you're arguing for other people to spend their money. In arguing for that you're assuming that the large for profit corporations that can actually afford the money will continue to want to spend more or less unlimited amounts of it on racing. Why would they want to do that when they can spend, dollar for dollar, the same money developing road cars? Over the years Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Mercedes, Porsche, Honda, Renault, BMW, Ford, and Toyota have entered F1 and left it. Some have re-entered it (Honda and Renault) left again and come back later (Renault, Mercedes and Honda comes back on the engine side next year). These days there are only three major corporate players, Mercedes, Fiat (Ferrari) and Renault, or four if you count Red Bull (McLaren's way behind this group but make up for it with sponsors). If this sport is to continue it will have to do what EVERY other major sport has done, cut or at the very least dramatically slow the increase in costs.