'Crisis around the corner', says ex-FOTA chief
The former secretary general of the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA), which disbanded in February, believes F1 will come to regret its absence with a "crisis around the corner".
FOTA's position was weakened in 2011 with the departure of Red Bull, Ferrari and Toro Rosso, but continued until pre-season this year. Oliver Weingarten admits there were big problems with the association when he took the job but is convinced the sport is far worse off without it.
"I think there is a genuine need for the teams to work together in this environment because they are very easily picked off and communicating collectively is in their benefit." Weingarten told Isportconnecttv. "There is no doubt a crisis around the corner whether it is on a commercial side, whether it's on the track or whether it's in the governance area. I had a significantly reduced budget which had been forecast due to the resignation of Ferrari, Red Bull and the sister team to Red Bull and the engine customer from Ferrari. But the positives were until March 2014 we managed to continue with FOTA."
Weingarten believes FOTA's collapse was inevitable when the paddock lost sight of what the body truly stood for after the upheaval of 2011.
"There's no point in denying that Red Bull and Ferrari leaving FOTA didn't significantly impact upon it. And people in the paddock may have perceived that FOTA wasn't as relevant as it was when it was originally set up. But actually FOTA continued to conduct a number of activities not just on behalf of its members but on behalf of all the teams including those who had recently resigned."
He also feels the reason teams stayed in FOTA after Ferrari, Red Bull and Toro Rosso pulled out is exactly why the body was so valuable to F1.
"They needed a forum around which they could coalesce, in which they could discuss issues without the commercial rights holder or the FIA being present. And also if FOTA wasn't around - and there's a big question mark now - who will do the fan engagement? Who will be the single point of contact to deal with the promoters to help them in respect of sales of their tickets or getting show cars to promote their grands prix? Who will look, on behalf of the teams, at the costs being imposed upon them annually across the world at each grand prix? So I think the teams recognised that there's definitely a role for FOTA and that's why the remaining teams stayed in it."