For the love of F1

Later today the FIA will publish the official entry list for the 2010 season. Either it will include the FOTA teams or it will not, and in either case the sport seems destined for much politics and conjecture in the coming months. Driver after driver has cited it to be the worst thing about this glorious sport of ours – lies, damned lies and politics.

If Ferrari, Red Bull and the others of the ‘five’ teams Bernie Ecclestone says have a legal commitment to the sport are on the entry list, what would be the consequences? Legal action, is the answer. The FIA and FOM believe those five are legally bound to enter; the teams believe the FIA and the FOM have changed the playing field sufficiently to warrant a withdrawal. It could all, it seems, become very bloody very quickly, with lawsuits of hundreds of millions of pounds flying about.

If all the teams are on the entry list, how does that change things? Not a lot, one would think. That would mean that Max Mosley had persuaded the teams last night to enter and then to talk about the rules, as he announced earlier this week. It would be quite a climbdown for the teams to change their policy now, but if they had, they would still be as committed to their own vision of the sport as they were before. So cue more talking, more stand-offs, and more threats of rival championships until the crunch time comes somewhere in October, when teams really have to decide where the future lies.

If none of the FOTA teams are on the entry list, what happens then? F1 carries on; the manufacturers go and set up a rival series somewhere. But judging by the tone Bernie Ecclestone used yesterday, that wouldn’t be easy. The FOM chairman has said they would be sued for breach of contract; and sued again were they to approach circuits and sponsors contracted to F1. This outcome surely would be disastrous for all concerned. Yet more protracted argument would come to pass in the courts.

Fans have tended to look at the politics around this sport with a mixture of frustration and indulgence; tolerable, just about, because of the sheer scale of the organisation. But when those politics threaten to break up the sport once and for all, a sense of desperation sets in. It cannot be so difficult to compromise on the budget caps, the rules and the Concorde Agreement, but this time egos have become involved and no-one wants to back down. Somebody needs to be the bigger person here – see the other side’s point of view (both of which are reasonable) and make some concessions.

For the love of F1, let us hope that happens today.