The F1 decision-making process is incredibly complicated and, to a large extent, it is also secret. Try to find an official explanation of how the F1 Commission works and you will struggle. The Strategy Group, we know, consists of eight members, who have 18 votes between them. The FIA (Jean Todt) has six votes, the Formula One group, the commercial rights holder of F1, (Bernie Ecclestone) has six votes and five F1 teams have permanent voting rights for various historic and publicly-undefined reasons, while a sixth team get a seat for being the best-placed team which does not have permanent membership in the previous Constructors’ World Championship. The five permanent teams are Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull Racing and Williams, while the current sixth team is Force India.
This body takes votes and decisions are made by a simple majority. That decision then goes on to the Formula 1 Commission, which is basically a rubber-stamping body.
The F1 Commission either accepts or rejects proposals put to it by the Strategy Group. Its dealings are rarely made public and so it is difficult to know how often it rejects anything, but usually, it seems, decisions are nodded through. There was a recent rejection of a rule in respect of tyre usage in F1. This was rejected by an alliance of Ecclestone, the eight race promoters and the sponsor Rolex. Cynics suggest that this may have been done so that there will be evidence that the F1 Commission does have some power, just in case the European Commission asks to see the voting history of the body.
In theory there are 26 members of the F1 Commission. This consists of 12 teams, eight promoters, two sponsors, a representative of the engine manufacturers (who is chosen by all of them and is supposed to represent all of them), a representative of the tyre supplier, plus a member from the FIA and a representative of the Formula One group. In order for a vote to carry it requires 18 votes. The voting is complicated by the fact that there are only 11 F1 teams at the moment. Each has one vote, but if there no 12th team, that vote is added to the score of the teams which gain the majority amongst themselves. Thus, for example, if there is a motion and six teams vote for it and five vote against, the 6-5 vote becomes as 7-5 vote.
The chairman of the F1 Commission is the representative of the Formula One group (Ecclestone). The FIA is represented by Todt. The Formula One group has the right to nominate six of the eight race promoters (three from Europe and three from outside Europe). The teams are allowed to nominate the other two promoters (one from Europe and the other from outside), but promoters generally vote with the Commercial Rights Holder if called upon to do so, because it is not in their interest to vote against him. The current representatives are Federico Bendinelli (Monza), André Maes (Belgium), Michel Ferry (Monaco) and Peter Gerstl (Hungary) for Europe, and Abdullah Al-Khalifa (Bahrain), Richard Cregan (Russia), Tamas Rohonyi (Brazil) and Ron Walker (Australia) from outside Europe. It is not clear who picked whom. The two sponsor representatives (chosen by the teams) are Arnaud Boetsch (Rolex) and Antonio Ramazzotti (Philip Morris), with the engine manufacturer’s representative being Cyril Abiteboul (Renault) and Pirelli being represented by Paul Hembery.
The team representatives are as follows: Ferrari (Maurizio Arrivabene), Force India (Vijay Mallya/Bob Fernley), Haas F1 (Gunther Steiner), McLaren (Ron Dennis/Eric Boullier), Mercedes (Toto Wolff), Manor Racing MRT (Stephen Fitzpatrick/Dave Ryan), Red Bull Racing (Christian Horner), Renault Sport F1 (Rob White), Sauber (Monisha Kaltenborn), Scuderia Toro Rosso (Franz Tost) amd Williams F1 Team (Claire Williams). Others may be involved if they are available, notably Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne.
The only other nuances that are known is that the sponsor representatives cannot be sponsors of the company that provides that the manufacturer representative, nor can the two sponsors be in the same business.
There is no representation for the other major stakeholder in the F1 business, the media. That is probably not a bad idea because any broadcaster would be beholden to the Commercial Rights Holder.
The next step after the F1 Commission is the FIA World Motor Sport Council, which consists of the FIA President, the Deputy President for Sport, seven FIA Vice-Presidents, 14 titular members and 4 members by right.
The current members are as follows: Todt, Deputy President Graham Stoker (GB), Vice-Presidents Jose Abed (MEX), Nasser Khalifa Al-Atya (QAT), Michel Boeri (Monaco), Morrie Chandler (NZ), Carlos Gracia Fuertes (E), Hugo Mersan (PRY) and Surinder Thatthi (ZA). The 14 titular members are Garry Connelly (AUS), Nicolas Dechaux (F), Zrinko Gregurek (HRV), Yoshimi Hiyama (J), Victor Kiryanov (RUS), Vijay Mallya (IND), Radovan Novak (CZE), Lars Osterlind (SWE), Cleyton Pinteiro (BR), Enzo Spano (VEN), Angelo Sticchi Damiani (I), Teng Lip Tan (SGP), Hermann Tomcyzk (D) and Heping Wan (CHN).
The members by right are: CIK President Abdullah Al-Khalifa (Bahrain), Ecclestone (Formula One group), Tom Kristensen (President of the Drivers’ Commission) and Belgium’s Francois Cornelis (the head of the manufacturers commission). Cornelis does not have a vote when F1 matters are discussed, and the seat goes to a representative from Ferrari, usually Arrivabene or Marchionne.
There you have it… Clearer than mud.