Formula One team bosses are keen to sit down with FIA president Max Mosley before or during the Monaco Grand Prix to thrash out a resolution to the governing body's plans to cap spending in the top flight.
Whilst Mosley is keen to prevent any further withdrawals from the F1 field after Super Aguri and Honda exited in 2008, the leading manufacturer-backed outfits, plus the two Red Bull teams, have expressed resentment at what they feel will become a two-tier category, with those adhering to the £40m ceiling allowed to push ahead with potential race-winning technological advances and those wishing to spend more being limited in what they can develop.
With the teams seemingly united in pursuing their own cost-cutting measures, Ferrari and BMW-Sauber have already spoken of the possibility of them quitting the sport, while Toyota went one step further in Barcelona and said that it would definitely leave, should the cap be put in place in its current form, prompting FOTA - led by Ferrari's Luca di Montezemolo and Toyota's John Howett - to seek urgent talks with the president.
"Between Luca di Montezemolo and Max Mosley, they have more or less agreed to meet at least next week or early the week following," Howett - who also met with Bernie Ecclestone and CVC founder Donald McKenzie - told reporters at the Spanish Grand Prix, "We had a very constructive FOTA meeting this morning, continuing the next phase of what we would like to see as cost reduction. Today's meeting was more about actually continuing the process that we've achieved this year - we've achieved, in our case, around 35 to 40 per cent savings and I think the show is as good as it's ever been," he added.
With Mosley absent from the Circuit de Catalunya following last week's family tragedy, the teams are now hoping to meet in the build-up to round six of the world championship, in Monaco, where the president has a home and has previously hosted important F1-related pow-wows.
Time is now of the essence as Mosley has called for all entries for 2010 to be submitted by the 29 May - five days after the Monaco race. With potential new entrants waiting in the wings to sign up to the budget cap regulations, any of the established outfits not committing could find themselves on the outside looking in on F1's brave new world.
While claiming that the ceiling being pushed through by the governing body is wrong, Ferrari also accuses the governing body of contravening agreements that it signed up to at the heart of the 'manufacturer breakaway' period that last threatened to see a rival to F1 set up by the major carmakers.
The Scuderia jumped ship from the manufacturers to the FIA-FOM alliance headed by Mosley and Ecclestone, weakening the potential opposition to F1, after allegedly being given substantial financial and regulatory inducements, including the right to veto any technical changes being proposed. Among the amendments to the F1 constitution now being sought by the FIA, however, is a clause that would, in effect, allow it to 'unilaterally' change the regulations without consulting the teams
“When accepting to take part in the Formula One championship until the end of 2012, Ferrari asked from the FIA - and obtained - a contractual commitment pursuant to which 'all Ferrari's rights and obligations will continue to apply'," di Montezemolo is alleged to have written to Mosley in a letter obtained by Britain's Times
newspaper, “As you know, additional rights were also granted to Ferrari on the same occasion and reconfirmed at a later stage. I do not believe that Ferrari's guaranteed rights have been complied with. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that Ferrari insists... the guaranteed rights be respected.”
Whilst the loss of several leading teams would naturally be damaging to F1, however, the governing body believes that the threats merely underline the need to bring spending in line with current economic climes.
“It could be that some manufacturers might use this conflict as an excuse to leave F1, when the real reason may be more to do with the economy,” an FIA representative told the Times
, “This just emphasises why we need to make the sport less vulnerable to their whims. We would hope they will embrace our cost-cutting initiative because it helps them too.”