Undeterred by its defeat in a French court earlier this week that saw it fail to gain an injunction against the FIA's controversial £40 million budget cap for Formula 1, Ferrari has insisted that it is 'not worried' and has contended that the governing body 'broke' the Concorde Agreement in implementing the new regulations – but it has now emerged by contrast that the same agreement could in fact prevent the Scuderia
from quitting the sport.
Ferrari took its stand-off with the FIA up to another level in endeavouring to seek assistance from the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris, having already threatened to walk away from the top flight over what it deems would be a 'fundamentally unfair and perhaps even biased', 'watered-down' two-tier championship of haves and have-nots under a cost cap.
Though FIA President Max Mosley has repeatedly claimed that 'the sport would survive' without its longest-serving and most loyal entrant, as the only team to have begun every single campaign since the official inception of the world championship all the way back in 1950, should it indeed pull out the legendary Italian marque's loss would doubtless be keenly felt.
With time fast running out and the acrimonious dispute still seemingly at a stalemate, further crisis talks are set to be held in Monte Carlo today (Friday) ahead of this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix – invariably the jewel in the season's crown, but this year being somewhat overshadowed by all of the off-track politics and machinations going on in the background. Mosley has allowed teams in the guise of the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) until next week to come up with a satisfactory alternative to the cost cap before the stipulated deadline of 29 May for all 2010 entries to be lodged.
In arguing its case in court, Ferrari made clear its conviction that in driving through the cap without first consulting competitors about it, the FIA had reneged on exclusive rights it guaranteed to the team in 2005 in exchange for the secret €100 million deal brokered by Luca di Montezemolo that quashed the danger of a manufacturer-led breakaway series and led to the signing of the new commercial rights-based Concorde Agreement.
It now appears, however, that since the Tribunal de Grande Instance recognised the legality of the Concorde Agreement, Ferrari may in fact be contractually-bound to honour its own side of the bargain, by which it committed to F1 until 2012. The Maranello-based outfit is arguing that the governing body has failed to abide by the 2005 deal and is continuing to debate the wisdom of further legal action, with the FIA countering that Ferrari gave up their special rights when they helped to form FOTA.
Mosley insists that teams can only bid to change or prevent changes in the regulations once they have signed up to the season, but with their 'right of veto' – similarly granted under the terms of the secret deal – also having been recognised by the Parisian court, the 31-time world champions remain adamant that the battle is far from over yet.
“We are not worried,” a Ferrari spokesman is quoted as having said by the Daily Telegraph
. “The court recognised the validity of the Concorde Agreement, and we are now deciding whether or not to continue with our legal action. We are hoping it will not come to this and that we can find a way forward.
“Ultimately, if the Concorde Agreement is binding, then the FIA broke it when they changed the sporting rules without respecting the agreed procedures, which state that only the F1 Commission can do so.”
Having yesterday revealed his 'concern' that Ferrari will actually follow through with their threat to walk away, F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone has since sought to qualify his admission in insisting that the sport will go on regardless, urging: “Formula 1 will continue. We have a contract worldwide with TV and promoters, so we will continue like that. We'll be here.”