As FIA President Max Mosley continues to bring the hammer down with new rules and regulations that appear to come from nowhere with no consensus from the teams involved, Ferrari, Toyota, Red Bull Racing, Toro Rosso and now Renault are some of the major teams threatening to pull out of the Formula One racing series next season.
No Races in North America
The first surprise move came last Fall when Formula One unexpectedly canceled the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal; leaving no races in North America. In what appeared to be a cash grab, the Montreal race was dropped from the schedule, replaced by the Turkish Grand Prix on the calendar. In doing so, Formula One left the door wide open for NASCAR to enter Canada on a regular basis as the die-hard racing fans in Quebec search for excitement elsewhere. NASCAR already holds a road race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and as more of their stars take part in the race each year, it is only a matter of time before more races are added across the country.
Now that Indy and the Champ car series have mended their fences and reunited as the IRL open wheel series with races in Edmonton, Toronto and perhaps someday in Montreal, can Formula One ever regain their dominance on the North American circuits? Let's not forget IRL also has the very high profile Indy 500 on May 24th. With names like Paul Tracy, Danica Patrick, Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti, how can Formula One and their 3am start times compete?
New Rules for Drivers Championship
Next came the announcement only weeks before the season began that the Drivers Championship would be decided based on victories rather then the current points system, which awarded cumulative points based on the final results of each race. The decision has since been rescinded for this season as teams protested the late change but could emerge as the deciding factor in next year's championship. Under the current rules, drivers are awarded ten points for a victory, down to one point for eighth place. This system rewards drivers that placed well all season. Under the proposed changes, a driver could win the first five races of the year, crash or fail to finish all the other races and yet still win the championship if no one wins more than a handful of races. Consistency would no longer factor into who wins the championship.
Voluntary Spending Cap has Teams Fighting Mad
May 29th is the deadline for teams to submit entries for the 2010 Formula One Schedule and as an American based team looks to join the series, as well as Suzuki, can F1 afford to lose high profile teams like Toyota, Renault, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and the biggest name in the sport - Ferrari? The voluntary spending cap, which limits team spending to approximately $71 million Canadian, will reward teams that abide by the cap with extra testing privileges. Teams that exceed the limit will be left behind, literally. A technical loop-hole already has Brawn GP and Toyota using a new diffuser ( an under-car device that allows greater down force, thus faster times). Ferrari, Renault, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and BMW-Sauber now have to re-design their cars to close the gap. Next season, if you are a team that over spends, you would not be allowed the testing necessary to make these changes.
While it can be exciting to see a team other then Ferrari and McLaren win several races, part of the allure of the Formula One racing series is cheering for the underdogs. Personally, I have been a fan of Toro Rosso (which uses a Ferrari engine) and Sebastien Bourdais. To see them race and compete with the "big boys" makes getting up at 3 or 4am worth the effort and extra coffee. Getting up to watch Suzuki battle Brawn GP in Abu Dhabi does not capture my imagination. Ferrari has been part of Formula One for sixty years, won 15 Drivers Championships and 16 Constructor Championships (as best manufacturer), the series would not be the same without the red car and black horse logo made famous by Gilles Villeneuve and seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher. All sides involved will be meeting in London tomorrow (May 15th) in an attempt to find common ground and a resolution to this issue that threatens to seriously damage the Formula One series. Hopefully a compromise can be reached that benefits all the teams involved and the fans that are being left in the dust. Have a great sports day everyone.