The F1 Strategy Group meeting is a secret business. Officially, we don’t even know how its membership is chosen. Go to the FIA website and type the words in the search box and nothing of interest comes up, except (ironically) a spiel all about governance which says that “the FIA has a clear structure”.
I am still laughing at that one… I guess that when the European Commission comes calling the parties involved will have to hand over all the documents and one day we might get a better idea, but at the moment it is about as clear as mud. Anyway, the F1 Strategy Group met last week and discussed whether or not to change the engine rules so that the engines will be cheaper and so that the manufacturers who did it all wrong can get a second chance to catch up with Mercedes. It is an absolute disgrace that such things are even being talked about. Cutting costs is easy. You tell the manufacturers to offer the engines to teams at a certain level of cost. If they don’t want to do that then they can leave Formula 1. If they do walk out then Mercedes can supply everybody, just like Cosworth used to do back in the dark ages of the sport. That could be a nice little earner and Mercedes would not have any need of a factory team so they could save money on that and earn money by flogging its technology. Other manufacturers would soon turn up because F1 is still a bargain if you do it right. The problem with this solution, of course, is that Ferrari is never going to accept a Mercedes engine and so, as always, the sport must kowtow to the Italian team because it is deemed to be important. I have long believed that it was about time that Ferrari was told to behave in a more sporting manner and to be treated in the same way as the other teams. Yes, it has value for F1, but like a Hollywood movie star, if one asks for too much money then people lose interest. New stars come along and the box office value of old stars declines. I am sure that the Italian team would be sensible about it, particularly if told that if it threatens to leave F1, sports car racing awaits them. I think they would be back at the negotiating table pronto For
political reasons Bernie Ecclestone never does that. He pays the Italians what they want (after some haggling) and all is well. To be honest, if Ferrari ever does start winning again it will not be as impressive as perhaps it should be, because we all now know that the team gets paid huge amounts more than its rivals and so it is not a level playing field. Winning if you have an advantage is not really winning, is it? It is amusing if one loves words to note that the European languages do not have words for “fair play” and tend to use the English expression when they want to mention the concept. People do not seem to understand that the joy of competition can come from taking part, not only from winning… Perhaps it is an old-fashioned concept in this dog-eat-dog world but people would have more fun if they adopted it.
In all likelihood the proposals for change will be stuck in some sub-committee for long enough to become irrelevant, which is fine. If things are not agreed by the end of February, nothing is possible for 2016. There may be some minor changes that allow engine upgrades during the season but Mercedes will get these as well as the others.