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FOTA disbands

NEWS STORY
28/02/2014

The teams' alliance, the Formula One Teams Association, has been disbanded after its members "re-evaluated their requirements"

Following weeks of speculation on the association's future, announcement of the disbanding came in a tweet from Oliver Weingarten its Secretary General.

"I can confirm that FOTA has today been disbanded as a result of its members’ having re-evaluated their requirements," he wrote, "in the face of a changing political and commercial landscape in Formula 1.”

It is a sad end to what could have been a powerful force had those involved not reverted to type and put self-interest first.

Formed in 2008 with the intention of providing a united front for the teams as they faced up to Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA, then led by Max Mosley, there were problems from the outset, Williams and Force India both being suspended early on for not agreeing to sign up to the proposed breakaway series the Grand Prix World Championship.

The original president, Luca di Montezemolo handed over the reins to Martin Whitmarsh in 2009 and while FOTA was instrumental in agreeing the 2010 Concorde Agreement since then its influence has waned, the organisation seemingly focussing on 'fans forums' rather than tackling the sport's powers that be head-on. Then again, the loss of Ferrari and Red Bull, along with Toro Rosso and Sauber has hardly helped.

That said, as Weingarten pointed out in reaction to our recent article, FOTA has done much in its engagement with fans and liaised with circuits to assists them in selling tickets and promoting their events (e.g Austin), and worked with Governments to showcase F1 and the teams across the world in respect of technology and its value to UK plc.

Furthermore, at short notice, FOTA had to agree and conclude deals with Jerez and Bahrain for this year's tests after FOM pulled out of the role last year. Indeed, FOTA liaised with the circuits in respect of facilities as a collective body, and this was important in particular when F1 went to India a couple of years ago, and could act as a single voice to the Promoter before and after the race.

"FOTA may not have achieved its original goals, and there is no denying this," admitted Weingarten, "but there is no other forum where teams can get together to discuss and agree upon mutual issues, without the FIA or CRH (commercial rights holder) present. Additionally initiatives such as wind tunnel reporting, restricted operational personnel, or summer shutdown have been road tested and now enacted into the FIA's Regulations.

"Despite leaving FOTA, non-members have retained engagement levels, because agreeing an Addendum to the Pirelli Agreement is easier when a central person can lead, negotiate, and coordinate, or agreeing with the majority of Teams on the candidates of Judges for The International Courts/Tribunals, or on Indian taxation is easier than doing so unilaterally.

"There is clearly some inherent value in having some form of Association, which is of no threat to the CRH, yet conducts a number of activities which are of substantial value to the CRH and sport as a whole."

Reacting to his comments, which were never intended to be negative towards FOTA as an association but to highlight the negativity of the individual teams, we also said that whilst the Fan Forums were to be applauded, Toto Wolff's comments regarding double points and the teams' surprise at fan reaction clearly demonstrate that there remains a wide gulf.

Chris Balfe

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