Max Mosley, the former president of the FIA, has said that he could have done to prevent BMW and Toyota from quitting F1.
Both major car manufacturers announced that they were to leave the sport this year, with BMW announcing its withdrawal in July and since selling the team back to Peter Sauber and Toyota dropping the bombshell that it was to quit the sport with immediate effect shortly after the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
The decision to quit came despite teams agreeing to cut costs, although the proposal to impose a budget cap put forward by Mosley earlier this year was rejected and threatened to rip the sport apart as FOTA threatened to go it alone and form a rival series.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph
, Mosley – who has now been replaced by Jean Todt as head of the governing body – said he felt the withdrawals could have been prevented if he had taken the chance to visit the major manufacturers to explain his budget cap proposals.
“Mistakes? There was perhaps one major error on my part,” he said. “During the period between the two WMSC decisions in March and April, I should have taken the trouble to visit each of the car company CEOs individually and explain exactly what we were doing and why. Had I done this I think BMW would still be with us and, just possibly, Toyota. It would have been easy to demonstrate that with the cost cap, they could have had the same for far less. But this was never a message their team principals were going to give them.
“The loss of BMW and Toyota (as well as Honda) is sad because it was so unnecessary. The only light relief has been the Ferrari suggestion that this was all a plot (by me) to get rid of the manufacturers. To believe this it is necessary to assume that the bosses of BMW and Toyota were lying when they gave the need to save costs as their reason for leaving. You also have to believe they needed to hide the truth for some mysterious reason.”
Mosley added that he felt his proposed budget cap could yet be revived in future – albeit under a different name – and said that the fact that three major manufacturers have now quit in less than twelve months was a sign that cost cuts had been vital to F1's future.
“It is now clear that without the cost cap proposals which were so strongly resisted by FOTA, we would not have new teams in F1 and there would be the real prospect of 12 or 14-car grids,” he said. “It is quite extraordinary that apparently rational people in FOTA should have been so blind to what was going on and prepared to fight so hard for a doomed business model.
“The loss of those manufacturers could very probably have been avoided had FOTA accepted the cost cap as agreed in principle by all the team principals (except Ferrari) at the meeting of Jan 11, 2008 in Paris. It was subsequently worked out in great detail by the teams' chief financial officers at a series of meetings over the following four months. The cost cap will certainly be revived, perhaps disguised as the resource restriction agreement. But it is a sine qua non for a healthy, competitive F1 with real technical freedom, particularly if one or two teams have very wealthy backers.”