Both Bernie Ecclestone and teams' association FOTA have issued statements in the Melbourne paddock in an effort to clear up the simmering row over monies supposedly owed to teams competing at the Australian Grand Prix.
The media reported, during the build-up to the opening race of the 2009 season, that several teams - including expected frontrunners McLaren and Renault - had threatened not to make the trip to Australia until prize money owing from previous seasons had been paid in full by the sport's commercial rights holder CVC.
FOTA's statement, while avoiding reference to the teams' alleged threat to boycott the Albert Park event, confirmed that talks had been held on 18 March to discuss 'sums owing from the 2006, 2007 and 2008 championship years', but was countered by a reply from the offices of the Ecclestone-headed Formula One Administration, which insisted that 'all prize fund entitlements payable to signatory teams [under the now expired Concorde Agreement] were paid when due'.
"Formula One Administration Limited, the commercial rights holder of Formula One, wishes to clarify and correct inaccurate and misleading statements made to the media yesterday by 'FOTA'," the riposte read, apparently underlining a reluctance to recognise the teams' body.
"In particular, FOTA claimed that monies are owed by CVC (FOA's controlling shareholder) to the teams for the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Championship seasons. Neither CVC nor FOA owes any amount to any team.
"The contract between the commercial rights holder and the teams competing in Formula One, the so-called Concorde Agreement, expired at the end of 2007. All prize fund entitlements payable to the signatory teams under that arrangement were paid when due."
The missive went on to highlight the divide that continues to exist between those teams that have committed to a new commercial agreement and those still holding out for better terms.
"FOA has made new contracts with various teams currently competing in the FIA Formula One World Championship on an individual basis, whereby the team has committed to participate in the Championship for an agreed period in return for which FOA has agreed to pay a share of an annual prize fund generated from and calculated with reference to its profits. Each of these teams has been paid its full prize fund entitlement to date.
"A few teams have yet to enter into a contract with FOA concerning their participation in the Championship, notwithstanding which FOA has made substantial payments to each of them on account of future prize fund entitlements they will have when they sign a contract, demonstrating FOA's goodwill and intent to conclude a new arrangement with them.