There is a blistering irony in the suggestion that exiled Formula 1 team boss Flavio Briatore is busy writing the rules for a new series called GP1. Briatore writing rules? That is like handing over the keys to the bank to Bonnie and Clyde.
Let us not forget that this Briatore person was busted from the sport for his role in the race fixing events in Singapore back in 2008. Initially he was banned for life but because the FIA (a previous regime) was sloppy in its judicial processes and that overstepped the mark and the Italian was able to win a settlement after applying lots of lawyers to the problem and dressing up as an injured party. It was decided that he would not be allowed into F1 for five years. Team personnel must also now apply for a licence to take part in the sport and there is really no good reason why he should be granted one.
Thankfully, it is fairly clear that the idea of a GP1 Series is simply a lever in negotiations over a new Concorde Agreement with the FIA. GP1 is not a very good lever because unless the FIA is behind it, it will never get the “World Championship” tag and this is what the teams and car manufacturers are after. The FIA has the right to designate such status and everyone else has to make do with nomenclature such as World Cup and World Series, which is not the same thing at all – and everyone knows that.
A switch away from Formula 1 is also a waste of 62 years of heritage. Rumours may say that Ferrari is keen on the idea and if that is the case, then the Italian team should be given no sympathy at all. It uses its importance and heritage in F1 to extricate extra money from the sport and thus it would be wise to support the sport, rather than selling out to another enterprise. That would add to the impression that Ferrari would do anything for money.
When all is said and done the sport gets what it deserves and if it deserves GP1 then it will get it.
GP2, the previous championship which was promoted by Briatore and is now owned by the Formula One group is a major league rip-off. Teams cannot use parts unless they are supplied by he series, and these are supplied at a huge premium to normal prices. The cars are expensive and not very well-engineered. It is basically a pretty shoddy money-generator, which owes its limited success to the fact that, running alongside F1, it gives the drivers exposure, which rival championships cannot not provide. The running time is limited.
The quality of the drivers drops off very quickly after the top two or three teams with most of the field being there because they have money and the less well-heeled going to the Renault World Series or Formula 2.
Having said that the entire structure of the junior formulae is not perfect. There is far too much clutter and, in any case, very few drivers are getting into F1 without large sums of money behind them and those that are are being signed up when they are teenagers. The FIA is looking at a completely restructuring of single-seater racing in order to make it more accessible. Gerhard Berger heads a commission doing that job.
GP2 was sold on the basis that it would be cheaper than the existing Formula 3000. That did not last long. It has been a “nice little earner” for the boys for many years.
The sport has been exploited mercilessly for more than a generation now and the time is right for a change. It would be foolish for the sport to dive head-first into another such arrangement.