It does not seem to have been a good year for the Formula One Teams’ Association.
One of Fota’s mantras has been about improving the show. The biggest Fota initiative to this effect has been the drag reduction system, originally suggested to the FIA by Fota. I feel quite strongly, along with most other F1 fans I speak to, that the DRS has ruined the racing.
Moreover, it has been clear for some time that there have been significant tensions surrounding Fota’s other major initiative, the resource restriction agreement. There have been constant innuendos that this team and that have been breaking the agreement, which have never conclusively been put to bed one way or the other.
Important meetings have been called, with team bosses even missing one of the practice sessions for the Brazilian Grand Prix to try to hammer out an agreement. But the silence after these meetings was deafening.
It seems as though today the rift has finally caused Fota to split, with Red Bull Racing and Ferrari having resigned from the organisation. They join fellow Fota outsider HRT, which was thrown out for not paying membership fees.
It has seemed as though 2011 has been a significantly less successful year for Fota. In 2010 it was almost impossible to deny the organisation’s influence. It was even at the point where it was virtually dictating the Formula 1 rules to the FIA, when DRS was introduced. But this year has been very quiet in comparison.
Perhaps this is in part because the FIA is a much less controversial organisation these days. Its provocative former President, Max Mosley, effectively necessitated the existence of Fota. In Mr Mosley, the teams had a common enemy. Fota gave them a collective voice, enabling them to express their point of view against him.
But the current FIA President, Jean Todt, has been disarmingly low key, against everyone’s expectations. He seems to have little to no influence on the day-to-day running of Formula 1, in direct contrast to Max Mosley’s meddling mentality. Fota’s enemy has gone, and it’s almost as if the organisation no longer needs to exist.
So is the apparent departure of two of Formula 1’s biggest teams the beginning of the end for Fota?