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Should the FIA write F1's regulations?

NEWS STORY
21/01/2009

The answer is no according to Bernie Ecclestone. This stunning piece of news comes courtesy of a story in today's Express newspaper written by Pitpass' business reporter Chris Sylt.

The FIA last month announced a package of cost-cutting measures such as limiting windtunnel use and banning track testing during the season. However, Ecclestone says that because the regulations affect the commercial side of the sport, the FIA should not be writing them.

"The sporting regulations basically are what generate the income and we run the commercial business. The FIA should just be the police looking at the rules," says Ecclestone adding that "the teams and us should be writing the technical and sporting regulations."

The reason for this is a European Commission ruling in 2001 that said the FIA must "have no influence over the commercial exploitation of the Formula One Championship." (link) But even before the EC ruling, Mosley acknowledged the FIA could not dictate on areas which interfere with the teams' businesses.

In 2000, at a UK government Select Committee meeting covering tobacco sponsorship of F1 teams, Mosley said "the difficulty is that we are dealing with commercial entities whom I have to persuade. If I could just say that is it and dictate, but I cannot. We can on the rules, on things like safety, but we cannot on things which would interfere with their commercial affairs." (link).

So how can the FIA make the cost-cutting regulations Sylt asked Ecclestone. "They can't really. The teams allow them," was the reply. In a nutshell, Ecclestone says that the FIA has been writing the regulations because the teams haven't opposed it. If that doesn't place the keys to the future of F1 in the hands of the teams then nothing does. However, Ecclestone may have an axe to grind with the FIA.

The FIA recently said that Ecclestone's proposal of giving medals to Grand Prix winners requires market research but he runs roughshod over this idea. "We don't want to ask the public what they think because, if we do, we would have to ask the public about almost every little thing that is decided on," he says adding that working with the FIA's bureaucracy "is not easy."

Relations between Ecclestone and Mosley became strained following the FIA president's involvement in last year's infamous sex scandal. "I was in trouble with him because I've known him for years," says Ecclestone. "I had so much pressure from manufacturers and sponsors saying you must convince him to leave." But just a few weeks after he called for Mosley's resignation, the FIA unexpectedly announced the launch of the new F2 feeder series to rival Ecclestone's own GP2. Ecclestone suggests this was personal: "It was all done for the wrong reasons. He did this when he had the problem with his private life."

Ecclestone also dismisses Mosley's suggestion that he was set-up by one of his enemies within the sport. Mosley said last September that "I do believe that it had more to do than with one lady. It's not from my private life. It's most likely something to do with motor racing." However, when asked whether he thought somebody from F1 was behind the exposé Ecclestone said "I don't think so", adding that "I suppose one of the people involved probably thought that they could take a few dollars."

Mosley has committed to stand down later this year and although Ecclestone thinks he will put himself up for election, he doubts that a new president will be elected. Ecclestone adds that the FIA owes its very existence to F1.

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