The reality is, according to former FIA president Max Mosley, is that sponsors and boards will be asked about their green credentials. Supporting a racing series that is Neolithic could be troublesome. Refusing to change or changing back to an older technical regulation would face the threat of Renault and Mercedes leaving the sport.
To Mosely, F1 is about change because it’s about being fashionable and fashion changes—so goes Mosley’s logic. Those changes have brought about one of the biggest cost increases in F1 history and with the grave-side service over the cost cap idea having just finished, the smaller teams are sending clear signals of a catastrophic future for F1 if something isn’t done immediately—namely, the institution of a cost cap for all teams.
According to AUTOSPORT, a letter from Force India, Sauber, Caterham and Marussia has been sent to FIA president Jean Todt detailing certain doom should the cost cap discussion not be reinstated into the current dialog. They question the legality of the Strategy Group, which consists of Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, Williams and Lotus, as a regulatory body capable of deciding the rules for F1. This letter may have prompted a quick call for a May 1st meeting or summit of the teams to discuss the situation.
It takes a lot of green to be green. There isn’t anything cheap about it and F1 is finding out the hard that deploying hybrid technology and a turbo V6 engine is not only a game-changer financially but competitively as well. The new regulations have dethroned, for now, the clearly dominant and paved way for a new juggernaut in Mercedes AMG Petronas.
Red Bull dominated the last four years but 2014 represents a return to humility and humble reflections on a car design that is struggling to be married to a Renault power unit and find any matrimonial harmony. It’s not a case of spousal abuse yet but should the team remain uncompetitive throughout the season, one can sense irreconcilable differences at best.
Perhaps no one will know how expensive F1 has become and how competitive it can be than American businessman Gene Haas who has thrown his hat into the ring of fire. Haas says he can beat those wily Europeans at their own game and if he doesn’t succeed at first, he’ll simply tack and make the corrections needed.
Can America’s first F1 team in decades compete on the global scale and within the financial demand of green and the competitive demand of teams such as Mercedes and other similarly powered cars? Time will tell but getting a power unit supply will be a big first step. While Stewart-Haas racing is powered by a Hendrick Motorsport Chevy engine, I don’t see GM beating a path to Haas F1’s door to supply a lump. Beyond advertising for his own company, is it a good move? Not according to Juan Pablo Montoya.
Montoya, a former F1 driver himself, told AUTOSPORT that Haas has to be mad to get into F1. While that may be one man’s opinion, it could be a look-back statement when American fans say, “you know, Juan was right”.
The interesting plot-twister in this entire conversation over the cost of the new green F1 is the issue of the Strategy Group that excludes six teams from having a voice at the table. Force India’s Bob Fernley doesn’t think this system works and while many may agree, the FIA’s Jean Todt says that each team signed the “Concorde Agreement”—his words, not mine—and they knew what they were signing up for.
In the end, perhaps being fashionable isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I don’t wear Kiton K50’s—not because they don’t look good but because the price is much too expensive. Perhaps I’m just not a slave to fashion like F1 is.