Despite being at the helm of one of the teams to have hinted at a possible Formula 1 pull-out over the FIA's controversial new budget cap initiative, BMW Motorsport Director Dr Mario Theissen has insisted that whilst the situation is undeniably 'serious', it should not result in any lasting damage and 'with a bit of goodwill on all sides' it can be resolved.
The governing body and the top flight's competitors in the form of the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) remain at a stand-off over the radical cost-cutting initiative, with the latter fearing it would engender a two-tier F1 and that it would be impossible for outfits that currently spend as much as £200 million a season to reduce their expenditure to a maximum of £40 million by next year, as FIA President Max Mosley is demanding.
Whilst BMW has not gone so far as to officially assert that it will withdraw in the event of the cap going ahead unchanged, rivals Ferrari, Renault and Red Bull have done – and with further crisis talks due to be held in Monte Carlo today (Friday) ahead of this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, there are fears that the dispute is escalating out of control.
“I think it is serious and there would be a big loss if Ferrari stepped out,” Theissen stressed. “We need to work out a solution. Formula 1 is a very strong brand, a very strong platform. The stakeholders are benefitting from it, so there is really no point in destroying that platform.
“When FOTA was founded, we very quickly touched on the issue of the different positions of the individual teams. It was clear that the individual teams have different contracts with the FOA and we all accepted that. We knew about it and we said that everything that is in place is as it is and we deal with it and accept it as it is. In my view what Ferrari does now is in the interest of FOTA, because they are using the possibility to make the position of FOTA clear.
“For us it is not so much a question of one figure to be put on the table; we think the issue is much more complex and needs good thought – it needs to be thought through well. It is about taking teams who come from very different angles and very different starting positions and getting them together on one cost down slope [to] give them enough time to arrive finally at the same position without losing either the smallest or the biggest team.
“It is quite challenging, and what we currently have is a budget cap being linked to a certain set of regulations which makes it even more difficult. I think this has to be sorted out. We are working on that and I hope we can come to a conclusion which satisfies all the stakeholders in Formula 1. I think whatever we do – if it's a monetary figure or if it's another form to cut resources – we have to police it and I think it can be policed. If we were not convinced it can be policed we wouldn't expend any effort on it because then it wouldn't make sense, but I think it can be done with a bit of goodwill on all sides and the right spirit. It can be done.”
“If you look back, these [sorts of] negotiations, discussions, have already spiced up F1 in the past,” the German added, speaking to French sports newspaper L'Équipe
, “and [they have] even gained more interest from the public, so in some ways apparently it's part of F1. I personally do not need it, and I hope we will get over it quite soon – but I don't think it will [do] damage.”
The budget cap is not the only issue BMW is battling in 2009, however, with the Munich and Hinwil-based operation's on-track form coming in for much criticism, as – exceptions such as Robert Kubica's challenge for the runner-up position in Melbourne and team-mate Nick Heidfeld's podium finish in the downpour of Sepang aside – the F1.09 proving to be largely problematic and off the pace.