Strategy Group 'could be illegal'

ESPN Staff
October 19, 2013 « Lotus seat 'hot property' - Boullier | FIA defends itself from attacks over unclear accounting »

The elephant in the room

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  • Under the new Concorde Agreement, the big six teams are set to get a much bigger say in how things are run through the new F1 Strategy Group. One of those teams, Williams, is vehemently opposed to customer cars, but if that voice is drowned out by the other factions, the outfits in the second half of the grid could see those measures start to be forced upon them. Once the smaller teams are on their knees financially they will no longer be able to put up a fight and customer cars could become the only way to remain in the sport. For many inside F1 and for fans watching on TV, the idea of customer cars is completely against the spirit of the modern sport. But if no-one acts soon to enforce significant cost cutting measures, it may well be the future that is forced upon it.

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Formula One's Strategy Group - the new rule-making body which meets for the first time on Monday - could well be illegal according to Force India's deputy principal Bob Fernley.

The Strategy Group, which has effectively replaced the sporting and technical working groups, is made up of 18 voting members, equally split between Formula One's governing body [the FIA], commercial rights holder [FOM] and six leading teams.

The six teams are made up of Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes and Williams - for historic reasons - and then the next highest-placed team in the F1 constructors' championship, for now Lotus.

But Fernley said this was "unethical and undemocratic" as the smaller five teams, who have no representation, will not have any rights to have their say or vote on any proposals.

"All teams basically pay the same amount to go racing," he told the Daily Telegraph. "The only differentials are in drivers' salaries and hospitality. And yet some teams have no say in how the sport is run. It could certainly be deemed abuse of a dominant position."

He said that one or two of the six included had reservations. "There is genuine concern among some of the teams on the Strategy Group, particularly the ones who are public companies. This is not ethical governance."

There is a significant school of thought that the Strategy Group is the first step towards easing the smaller teams out of the sport and for the top four teams to become constructors for the entire grid, selling cars to customer teams who would then make up the numbers.

"If you have big teams acting as constructors, unified and pledged to offer their services as two-car constructor teams, you have the grid," Fernley said. "The pie gets split only five ways and they get revenue from customer teams, too.

"I can tell you now that customer teams will not work. It is completely changing the DNA of F1."

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