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Dennis speaks out on manufacturers

NEWS STORY
25/05/2007

This time last year, the manufacturers, under the guise of the Grand Prix Manufacturers Association (GPMA), remained locked in battle, with the threat of a breakaway series ever present.

Then, in late summer, both parties reached an agreement and by November we were being told that hostilities were over, indeed, Burkhard Göschel, former head of research and development with BMW and now serving as chairman to the GPMA, and Max Mosley held a press conference, announcing that; "all the issues that did exist had been resolved".

Although nobody really wanted to see Formula One break apart, there were many who felt that under the current system things needed a mighty shake up. Furthermore, there was much that had been promised by the manufacturers that would be good for the sport and its fans.

The manufacturers and the FIA kissed and made up, and it wasn't long before everything was back to normal, for better or for worse.

The manufacturers have got what they wanted, but so much of what had been promised, so many of the good ideas appear to have fallen by the wayside.

Consequently, it didn't come as too much of a surprise when the FIA issued its green proposals for 2011, complete with 2.2 litre V6 engines, revving to 10,000 on biofuel. Yesterday, these were given the thumbs up by BMW's Mario Theissen, who claimed that F1 can still be exciting - still be exciting? - omitting to mention that the man who helped draw up the proposals was none other than Göschel.

To some it would appear that despite the threats and posturing, having got some of their way, the manufacturers are, along with the FIA, part of the same cosy little cartel, the status-quo resumed and the teams left on the outside.

Although no-one ever doubted the contribution the manufacturers make to F1, fully supporting them in most of their demands during the GPMA 'crisis', the teams appear to have been left out in the cold, no longer part of the major decision making process. When one considers the history of manufacturers in F1, and at this time one can imagine at least three manufacturers calling a halt to their F1 programmes, surely the teams deserve more say in the sport. That is certainly what Ron Dennis thinks.

"There are two categories of Grand Prix organisations," he said yesterday, "those that have equity control from a manufacturer and those teams whose core business is Formula One.

"I don't feel comfortable with regulations designed to favour manufacturers who at any time can stop because it is not their core business," he added. "History shows they do choose to stop at short notice for different reasons. So, to construct therefore Formula One for the manufacturers is fundamentally wrong.

"I see the need for an F1 that embraces many of the things that are part of the paper, I am not opposed to it at all, I am supportive of it, but inevitably change is always considered a good solution to un-competitiveness, so cynically I look at a variety of teams saying 'great' because they are uncompetitive and cannot make competitive cars with the current regulations and I hope that the thing that has driven virtually every decision of value that is taken over the last five years, which is cost, is kept firmly at the top of the list because this is going to cost a fortune and there isn't anybody that can argue against that.

"This will cost a fortune," he added, referring specifically to the green proposals. "We need to be mindful of the fact that this could see the demise of several teams who will not be able to pursue development programmes or receive the support of a manufacturer, so going from one minute a situation where we are effectively going to have four cars of the same make most of which will be produced by the core manufacturing companies to a situation where the manufacturers are heavily favoured against those core manufacturers, I don't think that is correct. But that is an opinion."

Other than the fact that race fans shudder at the thought of many of the 2011 proposals, seeing them as a further dumbing down of the sport, albeit in the name of the environment, there is the fact that any half-wit can see that such changes will cost money and lots of it.

While we supported the manufacturers during their battle, agreeing with their claim that they helped stage 'the show', we must never forget that to all intents and purposes, the teams are the show.

Should we go too far down this particular route, ignoring the teams and concentrating solely on the manufacturers, F1 is doomed. For as sure as god make little apples, several of them will take their leave of F1 in the next few years.

We're not sure what Ron Dennis has been drinking, eating or smoking in recent days, but he's making perfect sense, and not just in terms of the manufacturers.

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