FOTA United

June 19, 2009

So it now looks like the schism has happened with FOTA announcing late last night that they would now ‘commence preparation’ of a new Championship for 2010.  One of the sticking points appears to be the FIA’s insistence that the Cosworth engines, which are intended for use by the three new entrants: Campos, USF1 and Manor, will be running to 2006 regulations (without the current rev limit) as Cosworth do not have the time or resources to detune them for 2010. This effectively means that there will be differential regulations between the existing teams and the new entrants for 2010. However the deeper issues relate to governance structures and the relationship between the teams and the FIA.

 This is a sad situation and one that is reminiscent of the breakdown of the US open-wheel racing in 1996 when the IRL IndyCar series split from the CART Champ Car World Series. Neither series was able to regain the previous popularity of open-wheel racing in the US with fans being split between the two and both series failing to build a new fan base as the public became more confused, and ultimately disinterested. NASCAR stepped into the breach and built a strong consumer following which attracted large inflows of sponsorship. This is the scenario now being faced by the FIA and FOTA.

 The FOTA teams in a particularly difficult position are those which exist just to go racing; they have no other primary income streams. These are Brawn, McLaren (although McLaren are building up their automotive operation), Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso, by committing to this route they are placing themselves in a position where they are highly dependent on their fellow FOTA members to make this series work and ensure their future survival.

 If the breakaway series does go ahead (we must still hope that a resolution will be found) one potential winner (as I mentioned in the previous posting) is Silverstone. They have an international standard Grand Prix track and currently no Grand Prix for 2010.

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