Formula 1 on the brink: the pirate races

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Formula 1 on the brink
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I m the course of the 1980 season broke between the FIA ​​and the constructors association FOCA started a war that would later have ruined almost the entire sport. FIA President Jean-Marie Balestre wanted to abolish the aprons and thus undermine the basic effect principle of cars. He argued with the increasing speeds and the associated risks. The lap records tumbled between one and four seconds, depending on the racetrack.

The downforce increased in areas that allowed many teams to forego the use of front wings. The arms race became more and more expensive as manufacturers increased the stakes. The $ 540,000 that Bernie Ecclestone took from every organizer was soon no longer enough.

Jarama's zero number

The English teams rebelled. They saw aerodynamics as their only weapon against the automobile factories, which were pushing more and more into competition. Nobody laughed anymore at the turbo engine. He had become a bogeyman for the garage owners. Ferrari tested its V6 turbo in training for the Italian GP. Alfa Romeo presented its V8 turbo to the world press at the same race. BMW announced itself. Bad harbingers for 1981. So Formula 1 split into two camps. The Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Renault plants were behind the world association. Bernie Ecclestone rallied the traditionalists from England.

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GP Spain 1980 in Jarama: Alan Jones (Williams FW07), Didier Pironi (Ligier JS11 /15), Nelson Piquet (Brabham BT49)

At the Spanish GP in 1980 there was a first trial of strength. youlit up with a punishment. FISA, as a sporting offshoot of the FIA, demanded $ 2,000 from all pilots who boycotted the drivers' meetings in Zolder and Monte Carlo. Because no one paid, the association withdrew their license. The English teams competed in Jarama anyway. The number was too hot for the three manufacturers. They left again.

Alan Jones won ahead of Jochen Mass and Elio de Angelis. The following week, the Australian found out that the race had lost its World Championship status. Before the next race in France, the penalties were paid at a peace summit in London. FISA had won the first battle. The loser was sport. The audience numbers fell. TV stations switched off. The hatchet was unearthed.

Ecclestones Bluff in South Africa

The real rulers of Formula 1 were neither in London nor in Paris, but in Akron and Clermont-Ferrand. Goodyear was annoyed by the senseless political dispute and did not want to invest any more money in the tire war against Michelin and threatened to withdraw if FISA did not ban the short-lived qualifying tires. Michelin initially refused to follow the proposal. But Goodyear's pressure had an impact. From the Belgian GP onwards, the association restricted the amount of tires for the timed training sessions and the race.

The war between the world association and the constructors escalated. In winter it looked like two championships with a split field for the 1981 season. There the automobile manufacturers, there the garage owners. Two calendars were already in circulation. The English teams organized in FOCA founded a championship with the abbreviation WMFS. They wanted to write their own rules. And stated that they had contracts with 15 racetracks. The FIA ​​threatened all track owners with license revocation if they host races for the pirate series.

The season opener in Argentina was canceled. On February 7th, the English separatists rehearsed the uprising in South Africa. They held a Pirate Grand Prix just to show FIA President Jean-Marie Balestre that the Sports Authority could be dispensed with. Carlos Reutemann won the race with only 18 participants, but did not get any World Championship points for it. The works teams from Renault, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Talbot-Ligier, the small Osella racing team and newcomer Toleman stayed away from the race, which was still held under the technical regulations of 1980. Bernie Ecclestone and his partner Max Mosley had gambled heavily. “We had nothing in hand and didn't know who was going to pay for it all. The race in Kyalami should give the impression that everything was going well with us. Fortunately, Balestre fell for it. ”

The Peace of Modena

In the opinion of the teams, Balestre's ban on aprons was illegal, as every change to the regulations was two years in advancedemanded. The FIA ​​president canceled this passage and put forward safety concerns, which allowed him to turn the rules upside down overnight. The many accidents after defects in the apron were good arguments for him.

When Goodyear announced its withdrawal in December 1980 out of annoyance over the deadlocked fronts, GP sport was on the verge of the abyss. In England the parliament even dealt with the issue. Michelin agreed to equip the whole field at short notice. At Ferrari's initiative, the association's teams and officials sat down at a table for 13 hours on January 19 in Maranello. The result was initially a compromise. FOCA retained sovereignty over the finances, the FIA ​​over the regulations.

The so-called Modena Agreement led to a peace summit in Paris on the Place de la Concorde at the end of February. The brawlers fought their way to an agreement that laid down the distribution of income and the procedure for determining the rules. All lawsuits related to the race in South Africa have been dropped. The document was called the Concorde Agreement. It was the first basic contract between the teams and the FIA.

There was not yet an official owner of the commercial rights. In the past few years, Bernie Ecclestone had begun to sell the TV rights individually and to demand entry fees from the organizers on behalf of the teams. Balestre was a thorn in the side of the power of Ecclestone and his entourage. The FIA ​​wanted to participate in the windfall that Formula 1 brought in. Ecclestone had averted this in the Concorde Agreement.

Technically, Balestre had prevailed. Movable aprons were banned. When stationary, no part of the car was allowed to be closer than six centimeters above the ground. The minimum weight was increased to 585 kilograms and eight tires were distributed to each driver per official training session.

The dispute over the aprons

The FOCA had to guarantee 18 cars. More than 30 were not allowed to participate in the training. The race distance was limited to 250 to 320 kilometers, but a maximum of two hours. Participation in the award ceremony and the award ceremony at the end of the season became mandatory. Whoever was missing had to pay. Michelin did not remain alone for long after Goodyear withdrew. Bernie Ecclestone's company Avon had already made tires for its own racing series, and then Pirelli returned to the sport with Toleman, Fittipaldi and Arrows. Goodyear was there again at the French GP. Initially only with Brabham, Williams and Lotus. Michelin reacted immediately and only supplied its contract teams Renault, Ferrari, Ligier and Alfa Romeo. In addition, McLaren, who saw in Michelin an antithesis to the English Goodyear Armada. Pirelli gave Arrow's asylum. The rest had to switch to Avon. What asTire monopoly began, ended with a competition among four suppliers.

Officially, peace reigned. But the conflict continued to smolder underground. Because the turbo engines became more and more powerful and the English teams had to stock up on supercharged engines at high costs. In 1982, the FIA ​​allowed itself a U-turn with regard to the technical regulations. Rigid aprons were allowed again, just not allowed to have that name. They had to be six inches high and between five and six millimeters wide. It was a compromise to end the nonsense with the hydropneumatic suspensions that lowered the car as it drove.

The return of the uncompromising Groundeffect cars brought lap times to frightening levels. In Zolder, Prost, who was fastest in training, undercut the previous year's best time by 6.5 seconds, and that of 1980 by 3.4 seconds. At the Österreichring, the record fell by 4.4 seconds. The lateral accelerations increased to 4 g. Also on the straights the top speeds climbed by leaps and bounds. The Renaults were measured in Paul Ricard at 346 km /h.

Only 14 starters in Imola

A series of accidents sent warning signs. Marc Surer broke his legs while training in Kyalami, Niki Lauda broke his wrist when he slipped in Hockenheim. René Arnoux got away unscathed when he lost a bike on the Tarzan curve in Zandvoort. Alain Prost in Monte Carlo, Roberto Guerrero in Detroit, Riccardo Patrese in Zeltweg, René Arnoux in Dijon and Jean-Pierre Jarier in Las Vegas were also lucky.

The number of collisions increased. Gilles Villeneuve and Riccardo Paletti paid for them with death. Didier Pironi and Jochen Mass ended their Formula 1 careers after accidents. One because of his injuries, the other voluntarily. The nosedive of Mass at the end of the Mistral straight by Paul Ricard over the Arrows of Mauro Baldi could have ended badly for motorsport. The March landed in the auditorium. Twelve people were injured. Zolder's rear-end collision, which cost Villeneuve his life, was still in the bone.

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Indianapolis 2005: only six cars at the start, whistles from the stands.

The 1982 season started again in Kyalamiwith strike. The pilots refused to accept disenfranchisement clauses in the super licenses and boycotted a training day. Bernie Ecclestone drove BMW crazy with his interplay of engines. The Cosworth League tried to trick the rules into taking water on board to cool the brakes. Once in motion the water was drained. The cars were underweight and were refilled with all 'operating resources' before the technical inspection in order to legally pass the scales. So the English teams tricked themselves into a weight advantage of 30 kilograms over the Turbo League, the equivalent of one second per lap. The FIA ​​put an end to the lazy magic after the GP San Marino.

For this reason the war between the FIA ​​and the English teams flared up again. Only 14 starters competed in Imola. The English anti-turbo league stayed away from the race in protest that Nelson Piquet and Keke Rosberg had been disqualified in Brazil for underweight cars. Others were also hit by the rulers' ban. Gilles Villeneuve was taken out of the ranking in Long Beach for having a too wide rear wing, Manfred Winkelhock in Imola and Niki Lauda in Zolder because their cars were underweight.

The Indianapolis tire drama

Not until At the end of the 1982 season, the warring parties were tired. They agreed on completely new rules. The cars got a flat underbody. Later, the turbos were gradually slowed down through fuel consumption and boost pressure limits.

The next mutiny did not threaten until 18 years later. The manufacturers planned their own series. The axis of Bernie Ecclestone and FIA President Max Mosley had become too powerful for them. The car companies fell terribly on the nose. Five years later the ghost was over. Nevertheless, there was a dispute in the field. In 2005 there was a Grand Prix in Indianapolis, which in the broadest sense could be described as a pirate race. Michelin banned its teams from starting. The French tires showed signs of dissolution in the banked bend.

Instead of working their way through to a common solution, the three Bridgestone teams insisted on a start on the original track. After the formation lap, all Michelin cars turned into the pit lane. At the start there were two Ferraris, two Jordan and two Minardi. They carried out a ghost race over 73 laps with a concert of whistles. Michael Schumacher won. It was only superficially about the tire dilemma. Some team bosses led by Flavio Briatore saw it as a welcome opportunity to drive Max Mosley out of his office. He had refused a compromise and took the side of the Bridgestone teams. The rebels failed with their plot. Mosley remained president for four more years.

auto motor und sport is celebrating the 1,000th. Formula 1 races this season with a large series in 100 parts. Weprovide you with an exciting story and interesting video features from the history of the premier class in the daily countdown. You can find all previous articles on our >> Overview page for the big anniversary Grand Prix.

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