If Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne says his team has achieved its first victory of 2015 by finding a loophole in the regulations to allow it to apply some of its in-season engine development work later in the year, rather than at the end of February, he has a pretty strange view about what success really is.
It is pretty doubtful that Ferrari will win races this year even with this advantage and given the team’s form in recent years the advantage of the loophole will probably be better used by Red Bull so that Ferrari will probably still be looking at fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
The only sense where one might call it a victory is that by trying to nobble the McLaren-Honda challenge, Ferrari may avoid the disgrace of slipping to fifth in the Constructors’, which would be the team’s worst result in the title race since 1981. And that would be really embarrassing when one considers the amount of money that Ferrari is paid in addition to its prize money. And remember, that is not a meagre sum. Ferrari gets about $120 million from the Formula One group before there are any other prize fund payments. In theory this is because the team has been around longer than all the other teams and has more fans. This is true, but the payments are not really because of that, but rather because Ferrari’s popularity gives it perceived importance and so Bernie Ecclestone has always paid the Italian team first in order to divide and conquer the teams. The idea that Ferrari should stand on its own two feet and fight on equal terms seems to be beyond the comprehension of these so-called sportsmen.
When you stop and think about it, a decent European Commission investigation into the sport could easily work in favour of the Formula One group. If the extra cash that is given to the big teams was redistributed on a fairer basis, it might be possible to end up with the Formula One group actually getting MORE money than it does today, although that might require some concessions such as actually promoting the sport, rather than just taking money from it. A fairer distribution of the money in F1 would solve the problems of weak teams and bring an end to all the time-wasting quibbles between them.
That would be good, although one can see why it might also be dangerous because they might one day unite against the commercial rights holder and demand a great deal more money.