The first F1 squabble of the year progresses apace. Having failed to reach agreement over customer cars in 2007 at their recent meeting, the team principals are getting ready for war. Since legal mobilization takes time, it is most likely that scrutineering for the Australian GP on March 18th will be the crunch point. Pity those poor scrutineers!
Good old Bernie Ecclestone was there to suggest a few compromises, all of which were rejected, but at least he tried. But where was Mighty Max? Surely he would have been able to devise a way forward, given his new ability to work in harmony with the manufacturers. But I forget – that is only true when the other side has the power to really mess with him; little players like drivers and independent constructors are beneath notice.
In fact, there does seem to be a widening rift between the two most powerful men in F1, in style at least. While Bernie runs around trying to settle arguments, Max remains adamant that everyone must bow to the whim of the FIA. And given Bernie’s recent criticism of the FIA, it is clear that he is not entirely happy with the way things are run.
The fact remains that, if Max had been there to give a clear ruling from the FIA on the legality or otherwise of Super Aguri’s and Toro Rosso’s plans for the coming season, the threatened litigation could have been avoided. Had SA and STR been told that the FIA will definitely not allow any customer cars to slip through loopholes this year, both teams might have backed down; and, if the FIA’s view is that the cars are legal, Spyker and the rest would know that any protest will be futile.
As it is, we are faced with the prospect of yet another F1 court case and a GP with results pending until a verdict is given. Everyone knows how bad this is for the image of the sport but nobody seems to have a way of stopping it.