FOTA Press Conference Transcript The full transcript of the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) press conference held after Wednesday’s World Motorsport Council hearing in Paris. FIA President Max Mosley has subsequently accused the teams of misrepresenting the outcome of the peace deal brokered with the FIA and says he is under pressure to re-stand as president of the governing body in October.
Luca di Montezemolo (FOTA President): All of us have been really surprised by the enthusiasm that we have received from spectators, fans, in the FOTA side, the team side, the web side and in the press side from the public. I don’t want to say anything because I have already spoken in Paris, but I like that all FOTA members starting from John Howett, vice-chairman, can say something to you and be ready to answer all your questions. As I said yesterday, I want to thank in a very deep way all the FOTA members, because they have been able to work together and today after less than one year, FOTA is an important association that has done a lot of work for the sport, for F1 – starting from important cost reductions.
John Howett (FOTA Vice-President): I think from my side on behalf of all our members, I express our appreciation to our chairman who has taken a very active and positive role in the organization and performance of FOTA, and I think has ensured the unity among the members. This has ultimately resulted in a victory for Formula 1. There should be no victor from either side, and now I think we have the possibility of a very stable, sustainable platform that will enable us to continue F1 with the best drivers, the best cars and the best circuits in the world. That is from my side all I would like to say.
Flavio Briatore (Renault): Absolutely I share the feelings of our chairman and John. What we achieved yesterday was very positive for the FIA, it was very positive for F1, it is very positive for us. We have been working together with FOTA in the last year, and a lot has happened.
What we want is a Formula 1, and we achieved what we want – an F1 with the best drivers, with the best teams and we want to work to have a better show, entertaining better the people. We want to make sure the fans are with us, and make sure the fans are enjoying the fight between drivers. In the last six or seven months there was a lot of talk about politics and costs, and I don’t believe this is the subject the fans like. The fans like a show, they like a race, and we need to talk about sport again. We are happy to achieve this situation, we are happy to work for that.
After many years with the presidency of Max Mosley, we want to say good luck for the retirement. Sometimes we are in different positions, and sometimes we have different opinion, but the common sense yesterday was winning – and thank you to Luca too to negotiate. At this point we are looking for the future, and we are very close as well for an agreement on the commercial side, there are a few issues, but I hope in a few days we have an agreement for F1. I want to thank you for supporting us, I think is very different for the F1 and media supporting us.
Martin Whitmarsh (McLaren): Okay just to add to what has already been said, I think in the years I’ve been involved in Formula 1 I haven’t witnessed before the co-operation between the teams. There have been occasions in the history of Formula 1 when perhaps we haven’t spent enough time on the governance of our sport. We haven’t spent enough time co-operating to improve and build our sport and I see in the last few months, fantastic efforts through challenging times by all of the teams represented here and I think that is a very positive way in which we can go forward within our sport.
We have concentrated, as Flavio said, on too many negative issues in the last few months. I think there is a clear commitment from all of the teams here to work now on the show and the entertainment, on making sure we reflect the wishes of the fans who support us now – I think we can make the sport better. And I hope that we yesterday reached a historic point for Formula 1, enabling perhaps to look outwards rather than continually looking in at the inner workings of our sport. It is an exciting moment for our sport and one that can only build it to be bigger and better.
Mario Theissen (BMW Sauber): Not much to add. I really thank Luca and John for the big effort they have put in. I think it has been a very, very strong year for all the teams, for the co-operation. It was really exceptional to be part of this process and yesterday in my view we have reached a breakthrough situation in the way that we have now a clear view of the future of the sport. It is a fantastic day for the sport, for the fans and definitely for us as teams as well. We have a clear view for the format of the series for the future and I think this is a very strong foundation now to come to an agreement and a conclusion on the commercial side as well. Which we will follow in the coming months.
Christian Horner (Red Bull Racing): I would just like to re-endorse what has been achieved especially under the chairmanship of Luca di Montezemolo whose represented FOTA so positively. I sit here with a duty of care not just to the fans but to our employees as well and I think that with what has taken place over the last 24 hours with the solutions that have been reached I think it is very, very positive for Formula 1. As Martin says we can now focus on the fans, on creating a better show, on creating an even better sport and I think that F1 this year the championship on-track has been a strong championship. Hopefully now focus can be turned back to the circuit and the important factor of going racing. It was great day for Formula 1.
Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari): For sure it is important that F1 will stay as a real F1, that was one of our priorities for the future. For sure we as a FOTA we will welcome the new teams that are coming to F1, but of course it is important to make sure that the value of this formula is to make sure that these companies are able top F1 not only for one year but also for the future. And this will give another input to this championship. We need to make sure the new ones, who are very welcome, are really part of this business, not because we need to have new in terms of numbers, but new in terms of fresh blood into the championship. This is a very important point that we need to make sure of for the benefit of what we have achieved in these last days.
Nick Fry (Brawn): Brawn GP, for a small private team stability is absolutely critical and from Ross and myself we are really pleased that the achievements of yesterday really do pave the way for a very bright future for Formula 1. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank all of our competitors. It’s very clear that without the support of Luca and Ferrari, without the support of Mercedes, without the support of McLaren we probably wouldn’t be here today. It’s difficult to exaggerate the unity that you see in front of you. We’ve all stuck together, Brawn GP has been supported very strongly by all of our competitors and I’m very proud of that and we’re proud to be here among this group so we’re looking forward very much to a good future for Formula 1.
Franz Tost (Scuderia Toro Rosso): When FOTA was established there were a lot of issues on the table from the commercial side, from the governance and from the regulation side. Thanks to the chairman Luca di Montezemolo to the vice chairman John Howett and also Flavio Briatore we could sort out all of these issues from the commercial side as well as from the governance and that we also have stabilized regulations for the championship is quite important especially for a team like Toro Rosso. But from this, FOTA pushed very hard to come down with the costs which also helps a lot a team like Toro Rosso from the engines, from the gearbox and also from the aerodynamic side. I think that now we can concentrate on racing and we can concentrate to increase the show and come up with a good one.
Luca di Montezemolo (Ferrari): If there are some questions, we are pleased to answer them. Let me just summarize, because what is coming out from all of the colleagues around this table the very good team spirit inside FOTA. It’s a big collaboration, everybody has worked a lot over the last two weeks, particularly John and Flavio have done a fantastic job and I’m happy that all of the other members recognize this. So thank you very very much. I would like also to call your attention to the coherence of FOTA. We said since the beginning that we were looking for some priority points and I want to thank the FIA World Motor Sport Council for the very positive meeting yesterday and the very constructive attitude towards the interests of F1. We will keep the 2009 rules the same for everybody – this is extremely important. We will have stability in F1 at least until the end of 2012. It means no cost, because with stability you have no cost. We also have governance like in the previous years in which the rules come from clear procedure with the F1 Commission. And we will continue as teams, as car manufacturers, to work for important cost reductions as we have already done with success regarding engines and gearboxes.
Flavio will also be working with the commercial rights holder to improve the show and the interest in the sport. I’m confident we can find a solution with CVC in the next days – CVC is the company that owns the rights of F1. So our role is in two years, by the end of 2011, to achieve a cost basically like in the 1990s. It means that finally for small or big teams, it’s important to think of the balance between cost and the revenues at the end of 2011. We are united in the interests of the sport and I think that yesterday was a very positive and constructive agreement. Again, as my colleagues have said before, mainly for the spectators because the spectators were pissed off with the continued changing of the rules, it was difficult to understand. I have to say that after a month of confrontations we are also pleased to thank the president of the FIA for his decision to leave the FIA in October, to thank him for the work that he has done – particularly for safety because this was and still is a big priority in Formula 1 and the sport. Formula 1 has done a huge, huge improvement in safety.
We want to thank the FIA and the World Council for the unanimous agreement yesterday to approve and accept FOTA’s proposals. Again, we hope to find an agreement in the next day with John Howett dealing together with Flavio Briatore.
Question and Answer Session:
Q. The objective of bringing F1 closer to the public and the fans has been talked about. How do you aim to achieve this within the existing framework with the FIA and the commercial rights holder?
Martin Whitmarsh: I think as you are aware, FOTA undertook a very interesting survey of fans trying to understand what they wanted. The initial work led us to some conclusions that were put before the FIA. Unfortunately, none of those suggestions and ideas, which we felt were positive, were accepted. We now have to continue that work. We have to be structured in the way that we speak to the audience, asking them what they expect from the sport, the format of the sport, how they understand it, how it’s presented, how we provide information. We have to continue the work. There is no singular point; I think it is listening to what the audience wants and making sure that we respond to it to improve the show, the spectacle and the information that’s provided.
Q. How will the new teams fit in with FOTA, and will Williams and Force India be allowed back in. These three new teams signed up under the old rules
John Howett: First of all I think we need to have some dialogue with these teams to establish whether they wish to join FOTA or not. FOTA is open, we believe dialogue is constructive and positive. Obviously before doing that there is the issue of reaching an understanding with them on their position, based on the new regulatory framework. It’s too soon to say, but our door is open and I guess in the next two to three weeks, as the total situation is stabilized, we will enter into discussion with them should they wish to meet.
Q. Are the positions between FOTA and Mr. Mosley now clear? Do you have an idea who can succeed Mr. Mosley as president of the FIA?
John Howett: I believe yesterday the confirmation was given to the World Motorsport Council on what was agreed, and they endorsed entirely that. So from our side there should be no ambiguity at all. Secondly, the federation is an independent body with its own constitution, and it will be their business who they elect as the future successor to their president. From the teams point of view, we would like to see somebody who actually is independent, if you like, perhaps independent from any of us currently or historically. The federation covers much more than just motorsport, it is in fact involved in worldwide touring and I think also from the position of manufacturers they would wish to have somebody that was also able to represent appropriately the requirements of worldwide motorists, as well as purely focusing on sport.
Luca di Montezemolo: Just one personal point because yesterday I was not only representing Ferrari, but also all the Formula 1 teams at my first meeting of the World Council. I saw a very positive atmosphere, very constructive from all the members of the World Council. We have achieved a clear agreement, an agreement that is important to re-establish good, personal relations, and this is important looking ahead. This is something I want to emphasize.
The other thing is I was there also representing the car manufacturers. The meeting we had in Brussels with ACEA, under the chairmanship of Carlos Ghosn, the chairman of Renault, and with the chairman and CEO of all the car manufacturers – BMW, Ferrari, FIAT, Renault, Mercedes and Toyota – has been extremely useful because for the first time the top management of these companies have been directly involved in Formula 1. This is important for the future.
I want to say, one of the important agreements we achieved was an important commitment from manufacturers and big teams to race and continue to be in Formula One, at least until the end of 2012.
So in the past, if somebody was worried, maybe after Honda left or somebody else, not now. The car manufacturers and the big teams will remain in Formula 1, and this is the reason why yesterday’s agreement is important for us to work together for a better future for F1. F1 needs fresh air, needs ideas, needs improvement, working together to achieve this goal.
Q: What are going to be the precise technical and sporting regulations for next year, for example will the medal system be in place or not?
Flavio Briatore: The 2010 regulations will be what we are racing with now in 2009, we go back to the 2009 regulations and the Formula 1 Commission of 1998.