19th October 2011
Formula 1 is money obsessed; always was, always will be.
So as the 2011 season nears an anticlimactic end, attention is turning away from the racing on the track to the political squabbling between the teams off it.
The top tantrum topic of late is the widespread belief that Red Bull Racing have been spending a tad more cash on their F1 title blitz than their competitors would like.
It's all down to something called the Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA); a cute little pact between the FOTA (Formula One Teams' Association) teams to keep budgets trimmed to acceptable levels – a notion that was always doomed to abject failure.
Whether Red Bull are in fact spending more than is 'allowed' is of course debatable. Still, while rival team bosses (publicly at least) insist all is fine at the FOTA top table, various team spin doctors are busy briefing the media that the Milton Keynes outfit are way out of line when it comes to respecting the agreement.
The accusations may be right, they may be wrong, but certainly the energy drink mob don't do themselves any favours when tales of new front wings arriving at Suzuka by private jet make the news, as they did just a week or so ago.
The mood amongst the teams to get something sorted is being ramped up by the realisation that Mercedes-Benz are no longer happy to sit quietly on their sizeable cheque book. With a boardroom intent on success, and a major recruitment drive in full effect, the Brackley-based and Stuttgart-financed factory outfit are the best placed (and financed) team to crush any F1 economy drive. Everyone in the paddock knows it.
The RRA may seem a nice idea but is surely unworkable in practice. How can it ever be policed?
Large companies – and F1 teams – can easily hide expenditure in a myriad of ways. Just imagine how many different companies comprise the behemoth of a group that is Mercedes-Benz, and now consider that the RRA doesn't cover money spent by suppliers. Doesn't take a genius to imagine just how difficult it would be to 'lose' an odd million Euros or three does it?
Of course I'm not suggesting that Herr Haug's charges would dream of breaking any FOTA-inspired rules or regulations; I'm merely pointing out the bleeding obvious flaws in the agreement as it stands.
Personally I wonder at the sanity of it all. No doubt it's very commendable, and redolent of this new era of supposed brotherly love between the competitors, to pay lip service to the austerity mania sweeping the rest of the world; but this is Formula 1, surely the most extreme example of a sport subscribing to the capitalist ideal. Money talks and the haves will always spend more than the have-nots, legally or otherwise.
Whether you agree with FOTA's publicly stated desire or not, Formula 1 will always adhere to the rule of the jungle. Any number of well-intentioned ideal-world love-ins that the teams' association dreams up ain't going to work.
Now where's my private jet?!
Please now take a few minutes to enjoy my pictures from the 2011 Korean Grand Prix by clicking here.
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