In this climate of financial uncertainty, it is refreshing to see that bitter enemies of the past can move beyond their history of spats and controversial bust ups and be able to exist in harmony and unite for a common cause. And it has happened in the history of motorsport, between McLaren and Ferrari.
The former arch-rivals have decided to have a close cooperation and professional relationship to show the forces that are of Formula 1 of their united position as a racing team led by the two rivals formed a group to look after the interests of the team. The Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) was set up to represent the teams in negotiations with the governing FIA (International Automobile Federation) and commercial head honcho Bernie Ecclestone. Fota is led by Ferrari president and Ecclestone critic Luca de Montezemelo.
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McLaren chief executive Ron Dennis described the two teams’ ties as profound and admitted that he did not foresee the rivals eventually joining hands. Ferrari spokesman Luca Colajanni visited McLaren’s Woking factory to meet the staff and Dennis. I guess with this newly formed relationship, it was only natural that executives from each side would visit each other’s headquarters.
The two teams’ turbulent past came to a head two years ago when Ferrari accused McLaren of having important technical data on their cars. McLaren was fined $100,000,000 and stripped of all its constructors’ points. Not satisfied, Ferrari took legal action against McLaren, with Dennis and other top officials being questioned by Italian police. Ferrari lost all action, however, when McLaren issued an apology.
This season, FIA chief Max Mosely has implemented new rules in Formula 1, shaking up the current structure with the primary aim of reducing running costs and perhaps standardising engines. For its part, FOTA will be responsible for all the team’s interests. It will cast votes for all teams.
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All teams agree that the new rules could have given each and everyone significant savings in operational costs, not only in this season but in the future as well, for negotiations for the teams to have a greater share in commercial revenue than they have at the moment, which is pegged at 50%.
Montezemelo said Dennis, who will concentrate on FOTA after divesting himself of the day-to-day operations of the McLaren Racing Team, is a first-class person with a first-class team. He further added that Formula 1 needed great competition on the track and great unity off the track.
After the financial crisis hit most of the major economies, Formula 1 teams found it necessary to form a group. FOTA intends to keep the teams working together to promote Formula 1 as they continuously seek ways and innovative ideas to improve the sport. They would also like to address the issues that men nowadays, such as making cars cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
I just hope Ferrari and McLaren keep their partnership going. For the sake of the other teams.