Despite F1 living in nigh on perpetual crisis for years, the signs are that matters are coming to a head and F1’s future should be clear in just a few weeks.
In the past week, Sauber and Force India have reported F1 to the European Commission most likely for restrictive practices, a direct commercial influence/conflict of interest in the governance of the sport and inequitable funding disbursements.
This could see the F1 strategy group scrapped, which perversely would delight one of its architects – Bernie Ecclestone, though for most observers the FIA are not fit for purpose to regulate the sport in a better fashion.
FIA F1 delegates have for years failed to enforce the regulations of the sport properly never mind frame the regulations properly in the first place.
Prime examples of this are the failure to enforce and police the double yellow flags properly for time and memorial and the omission of a homologation date for the engines in 2015 is laughable.
One other intriguing outcome would be if the 10% of FOM’s annual operating profit paid to ‘historic teams’ and manufacturers be ordered to be returned. This would cost Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren and Williams over half a billion dollars since the agreement was struck.
The scrapping of historic payments may finish off Renault’s interest who are still negotiating will Ecclestone over the amount they should receive as a ‘historic team’ if they buy Lotus and become again manufacturer ‘works’ outfit.
The scrapping of the ‘historic/manufacturers’ payments would most likely see Dietrich Mateschitz lose interest in F1 and fold his two Red Bull teams given the loss of $500 million in budget for Red Bull between now and 2020.
Formula One with no Lotus, Red Bull and Toro Rosso cars, means the already depleted grid from F1’s heyday would have just 16 cars in the sport’s present two-car team format.
It is therefore no surprise that Bernie Ecclestone is once again this week talking about 3 car teams and that “people would rather see a third Ferrari than a car that is not competitive”.
Ecclestone claims three car teams will be decided upon in November, though Renault and Lotus have until December 7th before they are required to return to the London court and agree a way forward with the HMRC debt.
F1 is hurtling toward a very new looking future – and the 11th hour is well and truly under way.