Maybe Formula 1 has made me too cynical, but these days I tend to look at everything in F1 very carefully because things are not always what they appear to be. This is based on past experiences. When people say that I am a conspiracy theorist, I reply that normally I am happy to accept that 85% of conspiracies are down to human errors, but that when it comes to Formula 1 that percentage is closer to 50%. It is a fact of life that the more money there is involved in an activity, the more arcane the politics that surround it.
I would like very much to be able to take what I am told at face value. As I say quite often these days, what F1 people forget is that they are involved in a sport. It is a luxury that is not required. It is an optional extra of life. And if one wants evidence of this one can point quite easily to the fact that motor racing stops when wars break out; and events have been cancelled because of revolutions, final crises and even foot and mouth disease. So let us not forget that all this fighting over money and power is exactly that. There are thousands of jobs that rely on the sport, but I am not convinced that those involved in the current difficulties have this at the top of their list of priorities.
The ongoing dispute between the FIA and FOTA has been going through a period in which everyone is sending letters to everyone else. Some of these are being leaked to the media – as has been the vogue for some time, some are being issued as press releases.
This creates the impression that no progress is really being made. Everyone involved knows that for any proper solutions to be best arrived at, it would be best to keep all of this behind closed doors. And the impression therefore is that both sides are busy leaving paper trails which they will use at a later point to justify their own actions.
Paper trails are useful in legal action, rather than relying on the spoken word.
This is not a good sign.
The most recent announcements concern a letter from FOTA to FIA President Max Mosley proposing terms of a settlement. These seem to be reasonable enough and FOTA asked for the deadline to be extended to allow a deal to be struck.
The FIA has replied saying that the teams must lift the conditions attached to their entries by Friday evening. If that happens Mosley says that the FIA would be willing to talk about governance changes. This would involve an element of trust – and one has to ask whether the teams are willing to take that risk.
A commitment to talk about change, is not after all a commitment to change.