/ Motorsport

Fresh doubt over Formula One future

Updated: Monday, 13 Jul 2009 13:42

Bernie Ecclestone appears to have a fresh crisis on his hands
Bernie Ecclestone appears to have a fresh crisis on his hands

The threat of a breakaway series again looms over Formula One after the latest breakdown in communication between FOTA and the FIA.

The eight members of FOTA yesterday met with the head of the FIA's Sporting Working Group, Charlie Whiting, and the five non-FOTA teams in Williams, Force India and the three new entrants for 2010 in US F1, Campos Meta and Manor Grand Prix.

It culminated in the representatives from Ferrari, McLaren, BMW Sauber, Renault, Toyota, Red Bull Racing, Toro Rosso and Brawn GP all walking out, throwing the sport into chaos once more.

Following the meeting at the Nurburgring, FOTA's statement pointed the finger of blame at the FIA, accusing the world governing body of putting 'the future of Formula One in jeopardy.'

On 24 June, following meetings involving FIA president Max Mosley, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and FOTA chairman Luca di Montezemolo, it appeared peace had broken out after weeks of war.

The FIA agreed to FOTA's financial regulations proposals, shelving plans to introduce a £40million budget cap for next season, as had previously been stipulated.

The FOTA eight were then included on the 2010 entry list, making a 13-team grid as Williams, Force India and the three new teams had previously signed up for next season.

Subsequently, the FOTA teams were advised approval of the rules by the other five marques was essential as they were the only entries that had been fully ratified for 2010.

The FOTA teams had been granted entry by the FIA on the basis of an agreement being firmly put in place with the non-FOTA members, and until such time they could only act in an 'observatory' role in any framework discussions.

When advised by Whiting yesterday they could have no voice in the talks, only to listen, that clearly enraged FOTA, resulting in the walk out and a forthright statement.

'During the course of the meeting, the team managers were informed by Charlie Whiting that contrary to previous agreements, the eight FOTA teams are not currently entered into the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship and have no voting rights in relation to the technical and sporting regulations thereof,' said FOTA.

'It will be remembered all eight active FOTA members were included on the "accepted" entry list as endorsed by the FIA World Motor Sport Council and communicated by FIA press statement on 24 June.

'In light of these claims, the FOTA representatives requested a postponement of today's meetings.

'This was rejected on the grounds no new Concorde Agreement would be permitted before a unanimous approval of the 2010 regulations was achieved.

'However, it is clear to the FOTA teams that the basis of the 2010 technical and sporting regulations was already established in Paris.

'As endorsed by the World Motor Sport Council and clearly stated in the FIA press statement of 24 June "the rules for 2010 onwards will be the 2009 regulations as well as further regulations agreed prior to 29 April 2009."

'At no point in the Paris discussions was any requirement for unanimous agreement on regulations change expressed.

'To subsequently go against the will of the WMSC and the detail of the Paris agreement puts the future of Formula One in jeopardy.

'As a result of these statements, the FOTA representatives at the subsequent Technical Working Group were not able to exercise their rights and therefore had no option other than to terminate their participation.

'The FOTA members undertook the Paris agreement and the subsequent discussions in good faith and with a desire to engage with all new and existing teams on the future of Formula One.'

Trying to get the other five teams to agree to the scrapping of the budget cap is a thorny problem for FOTA as the quintet all signed up when a £40million ceiling was in place.

Although the FIA agreed to FOTA's proposal to reduce spending to 'early 1990s levels by 2011,' that has yet to be fully explained.