Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ferrari & Toyota strike back against standardization

Yesterday there were some bombs tossed in the direction of the FIA with Ferrari and Toyota making threats that they would quit Formula One if the standard engine proposal laid out last week by Max Mosley and the FIA goes through as planned.

There has been speculation that Toyota would forgo F1 in favor of running at LeMans and presumably in a sportscar series ala American LeMans Series or the European based Endurance LeMans Series where the technical rules are far less restrictive if the plan goes through.

Also, after Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo backed radical calls for cost reduction (as did Toyota chief John Howett) Ferrari drew their line in the sand that they might pull out of F1 altogether if the standardization plan continues. "Whilst reiterating its wholehearted commitment to a substantial and needed reduction in costs in Formula One, starting with propulsion, the Ferrari Board of Directors expressed strong concerns regarding plans to standardize engines as it felt that such a move would detract from the entire reason of a sport with which Ferrari has been involved continuously since 1950, a raison d'etre based principally on competition and technological development. The Board of Directors expressed the opinion that should these key elements be diminished, it would have to re-evaluate, with its partners the viability of continuing its presence in the sport."

As John Howett has professed to autosport.com, "I think you will see manufacturers potentially leaving F1 if there is a standard engine. I don't think any of the manufacturers want a homogenized engine."

Given that Honda is the largest manufacturer of internal combustion engines probably means they will be next to make a threat.

I had feared that the FOTA was laying down at the feet of Mosley in the name of cost reduction. Although they like cost reduction as it will improve the bottom line, I am bolstered by the notion that the manufacturers are looking to strike a balance of cost reduction and preserving the very reason why they are in Formula One...advertise their brand and technological capabilities. All of the manufacturers in Formula One already participate, in one form or another, a standardized series. The question is, even with the cost reductions already set to come on line, will Mosley back down from the standard engines given the manufacturers threats.

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