The Art of War - Adam Parr


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I was going to post something about this book in the scrutineering section of the site however, having just finished it this evening (an Xmas present from the Wife that's taken me a while to get around to reading) I thought it better that I posted it here.

The book may have put some people off as it has been created in the style of a comic book which I have to say is an unusual way of chronicling someones time at the top of one of F1s biggest names but now having read it, I am sure it has been done in such a way as to cushion the impact of some of the revelations made within the book. I have to say, I don't think I've read a more revealing account of some of the internal political in fighting at the very top of F1. The fact that Parr has gone on record with some of these statements, especially those against Bernie Ecclestone serve to reinforce the likelihood that they are true. There is no doubt that FOM / CVC lawyers would have been all over them like a rash if they weren't.

Parr begins by telling how at a meeting in Monaco in 2006 the teams met to discuss reducing costs in F1. Ecclestone pushed for customer cars and Mosely fully agreed however, Williams came out against this saying that cost controls should be found in other areas.

Parr claims that Mosely eventually came around to the idea of the budget cap (as we know) however the News of the World scandal broke before he was fully able to implement a full policy. Parr claims that Ecclestone saw this as an opportunity to get Mosely to step down and wanted the teams to write a letter calling for it. Again according to Parr, two teams refused to sign such a letter, Williams and one other (not named).

Ecclestone then took it upon himself to take on the cost control plans and in 2008 arranged a meeting for all the teams to be chaired by Luca Di Montezemelo at Ferrari's headquarters. It was here that the teams blind sided Bernie, forming FOTA and basically telling Bernie that 50 percent income to the promoter was too much. Coming out of these talks, the teams eventually agreed on the cap for the price of engines. This staved of the attempt by Mosely to introduce a standard engine across the board.

All this was pretty much known at the time and has been discussed in the press.

There is a fantastic story about how the Double Diffuser scandal blew up in 2009. Several teams protested that the three teams running Double diffusers were outside of the spirit of the regs. The cars were protested in Australia and cleared, and again in Malaysia and cleared. The Australian decision was appealed in Paris however, the teams who made the original protest had already run similar slots and "vertical transitions" as they were called, the previous season only on the front of the car. The essence of their protest was that they accepted their previous cars were illegal however, they weren't quite as illegal as these cars. Obviously as we know, the Double Diffuser was declared legal.

The funniest thing to come out of this episode was according to Parr, a phone conversation he had with Flavio Briatore where Flavio offered to send some of his engineers around to look at the Williams to determine if it was illegal or not and to help solve the issues surrounding the legality of the car. That way Renault wouldn't protest the car to the FIA. Funnily enough, the offer was politely turned down.

I'm sure we all remember the ongoing wrangles in 2009 about the budget cap and the battle between the teams and the FIA which at one stage saw Ferrari issue proceedings against the FIA in Paris to prevent the 2010 budget regulations coming into force. Ecclestone came down on the side of the teams as Parr suspected it served his purpose to see Ferrari and Mosley go at it.

As the season dragged on and the teams threatened a break away series the net outcome was that the cap was dropped and the teams agreed to further reduce the costs of running the sport. This produced the resource restriction agreement that was supposed to see costs reduced to the level of racing in the mid 90's which Williams estimated would be around 40 million pounds a year. In Singapore 2010 after concerns from Ferrari about the methods for enforcing the agreement and the low level of penalties, a legally binding two page document was produced which was signed by every team. This put in place independent auditing, a five year term for the agreement and a 50 million euro fine if you were caught cheating.

Now here, again according to Parr, is where it becomes truly interesting. After the Singapore agreement to implement the RRA, FOTA's secretary general Simone Perillo put together a more detailed agreement however both Red Bull backed teams now blocked the proposals. The remaining 10 teams were all content to sign however at a meeting called by FOTA and chaired by Martin Whitmarsh, Whitmarsh told the meeting that he had discussed the RRA with Christian Horner and to break the deadlock he proposed that there would be an amnesty for 2010, any complaint about another teams spending must be made within three months of the end of the year, any fines should be reduced and paid to charity and if any team couldn't reach a deal on the engines for 2013 (when the 1.6 turbo was due to be introduced) they could withdraw from the RRA agreement. Parr claims that as far as he could tell these conditions had only been discussed between Whitmarsh and Horner. This gave the appearance that it was Red Bull willing to negotiate and the other teams blocking progress. Also at this meeting, Williams were due be ratified as holding the FOTA chairmanship for the following season on a rotating basis however, Whitmarsh "volunteered" to remain in the chair for another year.

In June 2011 the F1 commission met in London to discuss among other things, the engine regs for 2013. Ecclestone and Ferrari were against the inline four turbos and were pushing for them to be dropped. Todt argued that due to the Concorde agreement expiring at the end of 2012 with no replacement signed, the FIA could introduce what it liked and it was up to the teams to sign up or not. Williams, Renault and Mercedes supported the new Formula and in turn the FIA position. Eventually a compromise was reached where by we now have the 1.6 V6 turbo that we will get in 2014.

In 2011 Eccelstone once again called the teams together and went back to pushing for customer cars to be introduced as a way of cutting costs. Taking the argument right back to 2006. The following day, Ferrari resigned from FOTA claiming that the RRA had not be enforced against Red Bull. It was also revealed that Ferrari had contacted Red Bull and suggested they resign as well. That was effectively the end of FOTA.

At a meeting between Williams (with Sir Frank and Adam Parr in attendance) and Bernie in January 2012, Ecclestone again pushed for consensus on customer cars however both Sir Frank and Parr were against the idea.

In February, Ecclestone went on record in the Swiss magazine Speed Week saying that he didn't think Williams were making the right choice having Adam Parr on the board.

In March at Melbourne the teams had found out through a press leak that the draft Concorde agreement contained agreements with Ferrari and Red Bull that included things such as the "annual Double Champions Payment" that gave $35 million on the sole criterion of the first constructor to win the manufacturers title in two or more consecutive seasons since 2008 !!! Wonder who that could be? The draft agreement also included Bernie's proposal for customer cars.

Finally, on the 25 March 2012, Adam Parr resigned from Williams believing that Ecclestone had told the Williams board that no concorde offer would be forthcoming as had been promised in the February meeting, while Adam Parr was running Williams. This was virtually confirmed by Joe Saward who wrote "There is little doubt that somewhere in the Parr-Williams story the presence of Ecclestone has been felt" in an article on the reasons behind Parrs resignation.

Parr signs off his book with the following statement "Giving board seats, the lions share of the money and an unequal voice in the making of the rules to three or four teams is no basis for any sport" and "the only alternative to leaving was to fight harder. That would have meant taking these matters to the European Commission in Brussels: A team like Williams cannot by itself take on the powers in F1, so I withdrew from the field"

It seems to me that this is among the first, open and honest accounts from someone actually at the coal face about how difficult it is to negotiate your way through the politics that infect (and that's not too harsh a word in my opinion) what used to be a sport. I just wish Mr Parr would now go on to write a full biography of his time at Williams to expand on the highly interesting information in his book.

All quotes are as published in The Art Of War - Five Years in Formula One by Adam Parr with illustrations by Paul Tinker
Fascinating stuff.

I think we're all under no illusions as to how corrupt F1 is, but to hear it first hand from someone who has been intimately involved at the highest level brings it all home.

What a sad state of affairs F1 is in.
I read a review for this book, it got a good write-up and seems promising.

I must say that although I am no fan of Williams I do admire their gutsy attitude. Often they are the main voice of objection within F1, sometimes good sometimes bad. It's amazing that Ecclestone singled out Parr when Frank Williams also sided with Parr. Perhaps it got personal between Parr and Ecclestone, it's certainly very strange for a sole individual to be forced out (actually Ron Dennis just came to mind).

I also wonder if Parr resigned for the good of Williams, or if he was taken to the side by Frank and given a nice cheque. Frank Williams hasn't said a bad word about him and even mentioned that he was partly responsible for Williams' resurgence back up the grid after their win in Spain.

One of the large problems I see other than F1's rights being controlled by an individual whose sole goal is to maximise profit rather than put the good of the sport before everything else is that the teams are also heavily vested. In particular the engine manufacturers and Red Bull. Ferrari wanting a bigger engine (get with the times :rolleyes:) is just another example that they're not a pure racing team, I don't think there are any left in F1 actually... how sad.
Thanks for posting this cider_and_toast . I am also reading this book (almost finished it now) and I am enjoying it to no end. I too was amazed with some of revelations about the sport. I found it frustrating, just like Parr, that the whole debate over customer cars and cost restriction just came full circle.

Also, Horner comes across as a complete penis and Bernie just loves him. Having said that, it appeared that each team was working independently and not for the good of the sport (as was alluded to by Mosley's forward).

Hindsight is 20/20, but some of the decisions that the teams have made since 2007 have just been idiotic. It's a fantastic read, if you get the chance to pick up a hard copy I suggest it.
I too got it for xmas, but managed to read it before New Year's. I really liked to comic book style - as you say cider_and_toast it very much softens what are some significant criticisms.

Parr clearly had a better relationship with some TPs than others. Nick Fry for example gets a glowing reference, while others are painted as double crossing, good for nothing so and sos. A third group appear to spend most of their time appeasing the others. Definitely recommend it to others to read. There are places where a picture paints a thousand words and throughout there is more said between the lines than in the text itself...!
I feel sorry for those who go into F1 with a genuine desire to build and drive the best car on the circuit. What an eye opener it must be when they realise how truly corrupt the sport is, especially at the top.
I think the only way out now is for a new break away series to be formed, with a set of transparent rules and an even more transparent governing body.
But I'm still trying to find the end of a rainbow as well.:(
Hi Titch, nice sentiments and we would all have it so.

However, the prospect of money breeds greed and dishonesty - even a break away series would attract those elements. In fact it may even be a deciding factor in setting one up.
Another little nugget of information I forgot to put in my original post was that Bernie was incensed when Ross Brawn managed to take over Honda in a management buy out to create the Brawn team. Apparently Ecclestone had wanted to purchase the team himself.
And Bernie repeatedly stated his bright idea for poorer teams to be able to purchase last year's car off a manufacturer and race it. A noble idea one might think - if you had absolutely no idea how F1 worked in terms of regulations and how they change from year to year, which I'm assuming Bernie does. It's either the product of a mind that is sadly losing it, or an idea so brilliant that none of us have yet figured what motivated it.
I am not surprised by the idea that Ecclestone likes Horner. He would like anyone who was carrying out a policy which disrupts the agreements made between the teams.

Divide and rule has served Ecclestone very well in the path and the present, it will no doubt do so in the future as well.
I think what this book does is actually throw some light into some very dark corners of F1. What the sport could really do with is more books like this.

For far too long there has been so much secrecy about the way F1 works that it has only served to help protect the various interested parties. A few more whistle blowing books like this would help to highlight just how ridiculous the whole sorry sport has become at its highest levels.

It would seem that the teams self interest and the greed of the commercial rights holders will be the factors that eventually cause the sport to go under.

While Its not perfect, Premiership football makes for a good comparison to F1. The teams have a role in the way the Premier League operates, in turn, the Premier League is the commercial rights holder and looks after its and its teams interests, in turn, the rules are all governed in parts by the FA, UEFA and FIFA. Now I know the system is not perfect but could you imagine what would happen if, as in true F1 style, the teams started demanding rules clearly designed to be beneficial to their own self interests. The whole league would end in chaos. As much as it pains me to say this, Man Utd have got where they are through brilliant management, buying the right players and through outstanding performances on the pitch, year in year out. If Football was F1, Man Utd would be where they are today through having a veto over any rule changes in Football, having a vote on the FA board, UEFA board and FIFA board, having a veto on who enters the premiership, demanding extra payments for being a founder member of the premiership etc etc.
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