Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley says he prefers Liberty Media’s approach to dealing with the teams over future rule changes compared to Bernie Ecclestone’s style of management.
Ecclestone successfully employed a divide and conquer approach to negotiating with the teams, while also using the Strategy Group – then generally comprised of the top six teams in the constructors’ championship, plus himself and the FIA – to drive change. Since taking over the sport, Liberty has opened up the Strategy Group to allow all teams to attend as observers, and held discussions with all 10 teams before formulating a blueprint for Formula 1’s future that it presented in Bahrain.
Admitting that Force India’s desire for a budget cap and more equal revenue distribution matches with Liberty’s future ideas, Fernley says he’s a fan of the new style of negotiations that have been taking place.
“Well I think from our point of view the future plan is in the right direction,” Fernley told RACER. “So we’ve just got to keep building it, but I’m hoping it’s going to continue to be consensus-based – just bringing everyone in behind it all – all the way through. From our side it’s in the right direction.
“I think that direction will continue. It’s not diminished yet so hopefully it will continue through and we can start firming some of the things up.
“I quite like [Liberty’s approach], it’s working well. I like the idea of them doing individual discussions with teams and then them formulating what they think the consensus is, rather than having shouting matches with all the teams trying to get their particular point over!”
While certain aspects of the 2021 regulations were discussed in the Strategy Group last week, Fernley believes the Formula One Group [FOG] will continue to bypass that governance process – which it is keen to change – when dealing with the majority of its future plans.
“The thing is I don’t think that will necessarily go through the Strategy Group. I think the way that it has been brought in is on a parallel program, like it was done in Bahrain. It’s done as a presentation process and then an individual assessment by each team with FOG and the FIA.”