The Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) has called for 'urgent consultation' with Formula 1 governing body the FIA about the controversial new £40 million budget cap due for introduction next year.
Following the meeting of the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) in Paris just over a week ago, it was resolved that the optional new cap would be brought in at £10 million over Max Mosley's original proposal – but that is still a long way short of what many of the teams deem to be workable.
Hot on the heels of Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo's denigration of the initiative as 'fundamentally unfair and perhaps even biased', BMW became the second manufacturer to threaten to walk away from the sport, with the Bavarian marque's motorsport director Dr Mario Theissen claiming that 'in one go you cannot just evaporate by a factor of three' [see separate story – click here
The general feeling within the paddock is that the idea is likely to create a two-tier system of haves and have-nots, with those teams that choose to adhere to the cap set to benefit from a range of 'technical freedoms' and unlimited out-of-season testing unavailable to their unlimited budget rivals.
Following a FOTA meeting in Heathrow near London yesterday (Wednesday) to discuss the top flight's rule changes, a statement was released affirming that the teams would continue to work together 'in a methodical manner' focussed on achieving further cost reductions over the coming years, but adding in a cautionary note: 'FOTA has concerns with the decisions taken at the last WMSC meeting regarding the 2010 regulations, and therefore asks to begin urgent consultations with the FIA.'
Brawn GP team principal Ross Brawn added that FOTA intended to 'discuss and debate the objectives' with the FIA – including the ban on refuelling, the progress in negotiations regarding the signing of a new commercial rights-governing Concorde Agreement and the contentious 'winner takes all' scoring format, a move it has staunchly opposed in the past.
“We all want to reduce costs and want Formula 1 to be as great as possible,” Brawn told BBC Sport
, whilst also stating his support for Ferrari, which in recent weeks has been fiercely critical of his methods. “We want all the teams to find solutions and stay in F1 – we don't want to lose anyone. Ferrari have a fantastic historical presence in F1 and I hope it continues for a lot longer.”
The FIA hopes the new cost cap will encourage more teams to join the grid, with space for a maximum of 26 cars next year – six more than at present. The governing body has also imposed a deadline of 29 May – several months earlier than usual – for competitors to sign up for the 2010 campaign and stipulate whether or not they wish to race under the budget cap.