The complexities of contemporary F1 politics were thrown into sharp relief in the wake of Jenson Button’s victory for the Brawn-Mercedes team in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix with the news that the rival Williams squad had become the first entrant formally to file its entry for the 2010 FIA World Championship.
It’s now the 40th anniversary of Frank Williams’s debut as an F1 entrant, fielding a private Brabham-Cosworth for the charismatic brewery heir Piers Courage, and contesting world championship grands prix has been the team’s core business ever since.
So when bedrock racing teams like Williams are seen committing themselves to organisations like the Formula One Teams’ Association, which less than a week ago was proclaiming that its members were ‘totally unified’ in their efforts to force FIA president Max Mosley into a U-turn over his planned £40m budget cap rules, it’s clear that they can only go so far in the role of dissenters.
As their chief executive Adam Parr made clear at Monaco, “Williams has always maintained that it has a binding contract with Formula One Management [Bernie Ecclestone’s company] and the FIA to take part in the world championship from 2008 to 2010.”
You can see their point. If Toyota, BMW or Mercedes can’t race in F1, it’s disappointing, but not the end of the world. They just go back to selling cars. But if Williams cannot race in F1 then it definitely is the end of their world.
See what I mean?