Apr.7 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Amid a poisonously political climate in F1, the sport’s stakeholders will get together on Thursday in yet another bid to fix the 2016 qualifying format debacle.
The meeting was scheduled last Sunday in Bahrain, where the teams were told by the governing FIA to consider an all-new ‘aggregate’ format for China and beyond.
It comes after team bosses really wanted to simply revert to the 2015 format, but were overruled.
“We should be trying to improve things,” Williams technical boss Pat Symonds is quoted by the German broadcaster RTL. “But if we’ve done the wrong thing, we should at least be able to admit it.”
But the qualifying impasse needs to be seen within the prism of F1’s political situation at present.
Force India and Sauber have complained to the European Commission about the sport’s allegedly illegal governance and income distribution, and Bernie Ecclestone may in fact support them in trying to get the existing agreements torn up.
“Ferrari will not win any world championship until 2020 if we don’t get rid of these damn hybrid engines,” the F1 supremo told Germany’s Sport Bild this week.
“No car in formula one history has been as dominant as this Mercedes,” he added.
That explains the urgent desire to reform qualifying with a format that shakes up the grid, but also interesting is the timing of leaked information about the formerly highly-confidential income distribution model.
The leak reveals that although Ferrari finished second in the constructors’ standings last year, it is receiving $191 million in FOM income compared to Mercedes’ $171 million.
The extra money is from controversial bonus payments based on Ferrari’s prestige and history.
“These unfair side payments put the independent teams at a perpetual sporting and economic disadvantage and directly harm the sport,” a briefing note published by the Times newspaper read.
“Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes and Williams are guaranteed millions of dollars every year regardless of performance. They will receive these payments even if they are last over the line at each race,” the note added.
Ecclestone is reportedly enraged that, as well as receiving the lion’s share of the income set aside for teams, Ferrari and Mercedes have set up an alliance or ‘cartel’ and are effectively running F1 politically.
“It’s absolute nonsense to say such a thing,” Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
“It’s like any other sport where, on the track, you fight to the limits but after the match you go out together for dinner. That’s all,” he said of the so-called alliance.
“I know what goes on in the minds of some people, but while Ferrari and Mercedes and not enemies, we are opponents,” he added.