Friday, May 22, 2009

F1: Court Rejects Ferrari FIA Challenge, Raikkonen And Alonso Consider Exit


Ferrari has threatened to take further legal action after a French court rejected its bid to overturn the FIA’s new budget cap regulations.

While the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris acknowledged Ferrari’s veto rights, the court ruled that they should have been exercised during April’s meeting of the World Motor Sport Council.

FIA President Max Mosley welcomed the court’s decision, reiterating his stance that the budget cap is crucial to the survival of Formula 1.

“No competitor should place their own interests above those of the sport in which they compete,” he said.

“The FIA, the teams and our commercial partners will now continue to work together to ensure the well being of the Formula 1 in 2010 and beyond.”

Ferrari, alongside Renault, Red Bull and Toyota has threatened to withdraw from Formula 1 unless the FIA significantly alters the regulations poised for introduction next year, and the latest development is a severe blow to their campaign.


In a statement released after the court’s decision, Ferrari said it will continue negotiations into finding an amicable solution, but remain committed to leaving Formula 1 unless it is satisfied with the 2010 regulations.

“If it is not possible for all parties to reach agreement, then in line with the decision of the Main Board, taken on 12th May, Ferrari will not enter its cars in a competition that, with the planned scenario in place, would see a watering down of the characteristics that have endowed Formula 1 with the status of the most important motor sport series and that have specifically led to the Maranello marque’s uninterrupted participation in the world championship since 1950,” the statement said.

“In this situation, Ferrari will continue to compete in races of a calibre worthy of the marque, matching its level of innovation and technological research.”

The 2010 Formula 1 regulations will provide greater technical freedoms to teams who abide by the voluntary budget cap, handing outfits a touted performance advantage of three seconds per lap.

This will effectively create a two-tier formula, as teams who choose to maintain unlimited budgets fall to the back of the field, although F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has hinted this system will be scrapped.

However, Ferrari remains concerned by other facets of the new rules including how the FIA plan to police the budget cap.

Ferrari also claims it will be nearly impossible for the team to reduce expenditure by the required 80-90 per cent over the next six months and offload workers at its Maranello factory.


News of the court’s decision quickly filtered down to Monaco, where teams are preparing for this weekend’s Grand Prix, and the general consensus among drivers was overwhelmingly negative.

Australian star and Grand Prix Drivers Association director Mark Webber warned the ongoing saga has the potential to severely damage the sport’s brand.

“Obviously it’s a shame,” he said. “(Ferrari) are F1. For me, the red car has to be on the Formula One grid. It just would not be the same without them.”


2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen said he is prepared to follow Ferrari and exit the sport, reaffirming his loyalty to the Prancing Horse.

“I work for Ferrari and we are one big family. It is my work and it is the place where I want to race. Whatever they do, I will do the same with them. We are one family and we do things together,” he said.

Sportscar racing and Le Mans in particular have been mentioned as potential alternatives for teams looking to end their association with Formula 1, but it appears the drivers too are looking at their options.

Renault’s Fernando Alonso said he is not prepared to race for one of the new, smaller entries, and will consider a move away from the sport if the manufacturers withdraw.

“I don’t know if this will be my last time in Monaco,” he told reporters. “If the big teams and the big manufacturers leave Formula 1 then I don’t want to race with small teams, because it is not any more F1 and there are many other categories.”