Are there any traditional races?

22/05/2008
NEWS STORY

As further details emerge of FIA president Max Mosley's defence to the General Assembly which will vote on his future with the federation on the 3rd June, more questions arise.

One of the core points Mosley raised in his recent letter to FIA member clubs was that the F1 Group has "asked for control over the Formula One regulations and the right to sell the business to anyone - in effect to take over Formula One completely." Mosley added that he doesn't think the FIA should agree to this since "to do so would be to abandon core elements of the FIA's patrimony including, for example, our ability to protect traditional Grands Prix." Just how well defined an ability this is is an entirely separate question. Pitpass' business reporter Chris Sylt opened his vault of data to get the lowdown straight from the horse's mouth.

Two years ago Mosley explained to Sylt exactly what it means to be a traditional race. "Our commercial deal with Bernie is that he can present the calendar but he will not present a calendar for approval which involves the elimination of a traditional Grand Prix without our agreement," he said explaining "for the sake of argument, nothing against Bahrain, just to illustrate, suppose he wanted to move from Bahrain to Dubai. That would not be an issue for us. But if he wanted to cancel Monza and go to Dubai, it would be."

Sylt then questioned how Silverstone could come into annual jeopardy if it is protected and the waters started to muddy. "If on the other hand Silverstone just wasn't up to scratch, or would not pay the same fee that other comparative circuits were paying, then it would be entirely serious to say no, however traditional," said Mosley. Since the sky-high fees are one of the main problems to circuits' financial health, it might make one wonder what is the point of it being 'traditional'. This raises the question of just exactly which circuits are traditional and this is where the muddy waters become too thick to wade any further.

On being asked bluntly "which are the traditional circuits?" Mosley replied "that is a very good question. If push ever came to shove there's no doubt there could be an argument about that." Given that protecting traditional Grands Prix is one of the "core elements of the FIA's patrimony," according to Mosley's letter at least, one would expect that the traditional races would at least be listed somewhere. Not so.

"There's no definition, no list," Mosley told Sylt. "The way it works and the way it has worked for the 25 years of the Concorde Agreement is that things are left deliberately vague so that if there is a difficult question there's a strong incentive to sit down and talk about it because with a final analysis you've got to go to arbitration. Arbitration costs a fortune and takes a year or two, which isn't the sort of time scale we like to operate in. So there are various incentives to settle up."

Now it all makes sense - " things are left deliberately vague so that...there are various incentives to settle up." The question is, come the 3rd June, which side will be doing the settling up?

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Published: 22/05/2008
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