GPMA launches web site, and more

Sat, 19 November 2005, 01:09

The GPMA (Grand Prix Manufacturers Association) have launched a new web site this week, proving its resolve is more than just talk when it comes to improving Formula One.
Originally launched as the GPWC (Grand Prix World Championship), it first appeared that it was simply the manufacturers involved in F1 joining forces in an attempt to give a parity, not only financially, but also in terms of long term rule stability, to every team on the grid. Initially seen as just political posturing, as more teams signed to become part of it, things have begun to change.

It has to be said, the way the huge income from the sport is shared out is questionable, but when Ferrari were offered an extremely large sum of money to remain within the FOM/FIA fold, it did seem that some of the accusations levelled at the sports governing bodies had a basis in truth. Ferrari, who blatantly don’t need the money being offered a financial hand out, while struggling teams such as Minardi, were slowly being crushed. One wonders if Paul Stoddart had more reasons to walk from the sport he loves than he has let on, while the financial incentive to Ferrari certainly didn’t calm the waters, especially as the Italian team’s refusal to stop testing is completely ignored.

Behind the scenes the GPWC became the GPMA, and several key pieces of infrastructure are already well in place. While a breakaway series isn’t the goal, it is a possible conclusion, and the manufacturers have been clever enough to start planning for that eventuality.

The FOM/FIA combination have not been shy in throwing it’s weight about, in what can only be viewed as mildly disguised threats, but it has simply driven a wedge between the parties. The FIA’s pressure upon Michelin, and the decision to return to one make of tyre, firmly puts the French company with the GPMA, while Honda and BMW’s increased input can only be seen as preparation, for the inevitable. The FIA’s declaration that it wants to cut costs also look laughable, as it has already forced to teams to build or source completely new engines, while doing nothing to reduce costly testing.

There is now a further piece to the jigsaw. If one assumes that the GPMA decide to go 100% for their own championship, they will need circuits, and circuits that are up to the current required standard. It would be no surprise that when these circuits, and there aren’t that many, approach the FIA, they will be told they cannot run another single seater championship as “their” World Championship, but this could be about to change. With the teams unhappy about the sharing of F1’s finances, it now appears that there are several circuits feeling the same way. Sepang, in Malaysia, has yet to see a return for the huge investment in building not only a circuit, but also the attached hotel and airport, simply because it is tied to what they now consider an unfair contract with FOM, and there are others.

Interestingly the GPMA web site isn’t simply about money. They are actively seeking input from fans as to how the whole sport can be improved, which after Max Mosley’s ill-conceived comment that, “fans don’t think overtaking is important”, amongst others, is a breath of fresh air. So now with teams, manufacturers, principles, television companies and circuits all suggesting that it is time for change, perhaps FOM and the FIA should take note, leave their ivory towers, and put something back into the sport, instead of taking it all out?

Steve Holter
Daily F1 News

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