Ferrari have stepped up their fight against the FIA's controversial new budget cap for Formula 1 in applying to a French court for an injunction against it – causing Max Mosley to observe that 'when people start bringing proceedings it becomes very difficult to negotiate with them' and plunging the sport into crisis.
So far Ferrari, Renault, Toyota and Red Bull have all threatened to withdraw from the 2010 world championship should the governing body not retract its unpopular introduction of an optional £40 million cost cap – something most feel would be impossible to effectively police and would engender a confusing and unfair 'two-tier' system within the top flight of haves and have-nots that likely penalises richer outfits, with a mooted three-second-per-lap advantage for capped competitors.
Whilst all are unanimous that cost-cutting is of the highest importance, there is equally a common conviction amongst the teams that a sudden reduction in budget from as much as £200 million in some cases to just a fifth of that figure in time for next season is unworkable.
Following today's 'friendly' but fruitless Heathrow Airport reunion between FIA President Mosley, commercial rights supremo Bernie Ecclestone and the teams in the guise of FOTA (the Formula One Teams' Association), however, Ferrari have taken things one step further – and taken matters into their own hands.
“During the meeting it became apparent that Ferrari have made an application to the French courts for an injunction to stop us doing what we want to do,” Mosley is quoted as having said by The Guardian
. “At the end of the meeting no solution was agreed, with teams leaving to discuss alternatives.
“It was a friendly meeting, but the teams have gone off to see if they can come up with something better than the cost cap. I'd be very surprised in the end if they (Ferrari) do [leave], [but] when people start bringing proceedings it becomes very difficult to negotiate with them.”
“The key to F1 is Ferrari,” added Ecclestone, quoted by the BBC
. “They have been there for 60 years; they are partners of ours. They are the people we need to take into consideration. At the moment everyone is hanging onto their apron strings – sort that out and we will be okay.”
The budget cap has been implemented in an earnest bid to restrict what had become ever-escalating expenditure in the world's most glamorous and expensive sport, safeguard the future of existing teams in the wake of Honda's shock exit back in December and attract new entrants to make the graduation, with three available extra slots on the 2010 starting grid. Mosley argues that without it, F1 will not survive the current global credit crunch.
By contrast, Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore has been another fierce critic of the regulation changes, and the 'unilateral' manner in which they were forced through without first adequately consulting the teams on the proposals. The outspoken Italian stressed the importance of coming to a solution that makes everybody happy and dismissed fears of another attempt to form a breakaway series following the stillborn efforts of four years ago – whilst underlining that an upheaval of this magnitude is 'unacceptable'.