Off-track action

It’s been a couple of months since my last rant about F1, and in the meantime the franchise seems to have come closer than ever to imploding. In the past, Ecclestone and Mosley have managed to present a united front when dealing with the teams or other interest groups such as the BRDC, but this time even the two of them don’t seem to be pulling in the same direction.

Mr Mosley seems to have antagonised most of the teams, not least by allegedly coming to an agreement with them on one day and then unilaterally revising it overnight. According to the teams it is this kind of high-handedness which makes him so unpopular as the sport’s titular head… and yet it’s Mr Mosley who is threatening to sue the rest of them for (among other things) breach of contract.

Apart from “governance style”, the teams are also still fundamentally unhappy with the details of Mr Mosley’s cost-cutting proposals. He wants to have two classes of engine; a rev-limited option for teams who wish to ignore the cost caps, and a ‘budget’ Cosworth with no rev limit. Mr Mosley is quoted as writing that “any engineer will confirm that this will not give the relevant teams any competitive advantage whatsoever”; the reply of at least one engineer was too frank to print on the BBC site.

There’s also the point, surely, that this is not what “Formula One” means. It means a single set of specifications which apply to all the cars in the race. I’ve been to GT races, and to be sure, they are entertaining not least for the different rates at which GT1 and GT2 cars go round the track… but that’s not “Formula One”, it’s cars from two different formulas racing simultaneously on the same track. If Mr Mosley thinks that would be more entertaining, he should come out and say so.

I assume that, at least in part, all this off-track chicanery is Mr Mosley’s attempt to give us something more interesting to watch than the on-track chicanes. Dominant though Sebastian Vettel’s performance was on Sunday, it was not an exciting race by any standard. The BBC Sports site today promises “The British Grand Prix in 90 seconds“. To be honest, I’m surprised they managed to pad the highlights out to a minute and a half.