Through the eyes of Empire

30 06 2009

The troubles over the future of formula one over the past weeks have been well documented, from the apparent departure of the teams from the FIA championship on the eve of the British Grand Prix, to the apparent outbreak of common sense at a meeting in Paris last week.

I however want to look at this conflict in another way; with the FIA as The powerful, established empire, and the teams as its frustrated colonies wanting more say in their destiny.

The first image this will conjure up for most people will be the American Revolution. Thirteen colonies, in this case eight teams, joining together to throw off the colonial yoke, and go it alone into a brave new world. The enthusiastic radicals and reluctant conservatives led by a respected moderate, standing up to their former masters, for a future of their own.

Of course the red coats have been replaced by the darker suits of gangs of lawyers keen to wield their stacks of paper and bring the rebellious to heal. But the old adage of the American Revolutionaries ‘No taxation without representation’ holds just as true for formula one today.

The teams perceive themselves as doing all the hard work in the sport; and although they have no desire to move from racers to governors, they believe they have the right to have a say, especially with the amount of money they see themselves generating for others. This situation differs slightly from history, as the teams serve two masters, unlike the one empire. One of the masters rules over them, the other taxes. This solution works perfectly as long as the teams in the middle are happy and do the work.

Clearly though, with the teams unhappy with both their ruler and their taxer they felt they had to revolt, as they could not continue under the status quo. Revolutions are initially simple, anyone can protest, but ultimately they become very difficult, as the protagonists have to step up to the roles of governing, for which they may not be prepared. It is one thing to complain, it is quite another to solve everything.

Perhaps these difficulties played on the revolutionaries minds as they headed to a last minute peace conference, or perhaps the talk of revolution was just to buy them a seat at the table to negotiate for something else.

Of course belonging to the empire has its advantages in Prestige, and resources. In colonial times this would serve to ward off potential aggressors, in the modern context it provides access to the television contracts and the promotion and negotiation skills of Bernie Ecclestone.

The desires on both sides to remain together led to the teams and the FIA to come to a solution more akin to the Colonial Autonomy seen in Australia and Canada. This allows the teams to have a say in their own governance with the FIA, whilst also allowing them the Benefits of the status quo.

The key factor in this solution however is that the former rebels must respect the authority of the Empire, if this does not happen the Empire has nothing to gain by sharing its sovereignty, and the situation can easily fall back to how it was before the revolution happens.

Max and some members of the FIA clearly feel that the celebrations and commentary by the former rebels did not do so with the respect he expected. The whole peace deal now rocks on a precipice, its fate ultimately depends on how much everyone jumps about, it can be saved by calm and quite discussion, any jumping around and it will slide down the cliff to its destruction.

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