The Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) has come to 'a common view' on the controversial budget cap crisis that is threatening to tear the top flight apart following its two-and-a-half hour meeting in Monaco today, it has been confirmed – now it just hopes the FIA will accept its propositions.
FOTA met on Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore's luxury yacht in the Principality's harbour, in an effort to come up with an alternative to Max Mosley's £40 million cost cap that the FIA President plans to introduce in 2010. Such a move, the teams contend, would engender a 'two-tier' championship of haves and have-nots, with those choosing to adhere to the cap benefitting from greater technical freedoms than their rivals, and many of the larger operations simply unable to sufficiently reduce their expenditure – in some cases as high as £200 million per year – in time to comply for next season.
Should no compromise be struck with the governing body, then Mosley has made it clear that he plans to press on with the cap's introduction – one that is likely to attract a wave of new entries for 2010, but that is equally liable to send a number of the existing competitors, most prominently the manufacturer-backed outfits, scurrying for the exit door.
Mosley's argument is that without a significant reduction in spending in what is by some margin the world's most expensive sport, F1 will not survive, fearing more car makers will follow Honda's lead in withdrawing should costs not be brought dramatically down in an age of global recession. The Englishman similarly contends that new teams will only be willing to make the graduation in the knowledge that they will be able to race at a competitive level without having to spend hundreds of millions of pounds in order to do so. Campos Meta 1 and Team USF1 have both already lodged applications for the three slots currently available on next year's starting grid.
Ferrari, Renault, Toyota and Red Bull have all categorically vowed to quit if Mosley refuses to back down, but whilst all of the current teams have long been agreed on the serious need to cut costs, they have henceforth not been in unison on how to go about doing so – with some in favour of the cap, some unreservedly against but all adamant that a figure of £40 million is too low for the first year. Now, they hope, they have finally established some common ground.
“I can say that it was, as always, a very constructive and useful meeting between the teams, with a very good atmosphere and we are all together,” reported FOTA and Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo according to international news agency Reuters
, whilst being unwilling to elaborate on what precisely had been resolved during the reunion.
“What is important is that FOTA is now an organisation with a common view of the future, and we will be in a position to go to the chairman of the FIA explaining in a very constructive but very clear way our position. We will not enter the championship with these rules and with this governance. We had to discuss the possibility to change the situation, because we want Formula 1 – we don't want something different.”
In driving through the cap without first consulting competitors about it, Ferrari contends that the FIA reneged upon exclusive rights it guaranteed to the Scuderia
four years ago in exchange for the secret €100 million deal brokered by di Montezemolo that quashed the danger of a manufacturer-spearheaded breakaway series, led to the signing of the new commercial rights-based Concorde Agreement – and earned the team a veto over future rule changes.
The Maranello-based concern argues that the governing body has failed to abide by the 2005 deal and is continuing to debate the wisdom of further civil proceedings after its fruitless injunction bid in a French court earlier this week. The FIA has countered that Ferrari gave up their special rights when they helped to form FOTA, and as such remain contractually-bound to F1 until 2012 – with Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive Bernie Ecclestone suggesting that legal action will
be taken should the legendary Italian marque leave before that term is up.