Williams' respected engineering director Patrick Head has suggested that in their blind intransigence towards the controversial budget cap that the FIA intends introducing into Formula 1 from next year onwards, Ferrari and Toyota risk 'finding themselves isolated in a corner' as further crisis talks take place post-qualifying in Monaco this weekend.
It was reported that whilst there was 'small progress' made, there was still no agreement or compromise reached during Friday's meeting between the governing body and the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) – designed to find an acceptable alternative to the largely unpopular £40 million cap that Max Mosley insists is vital to safeguarding the future of the top flight, but that the teams fear will engender a confusing and unfair 'two-tier' F1, with the major manufacturers simply unable to reduce their expenditure to the stipulated level in time for the start of the 2010 campaign.
Ferrari, Toyota, Renault and Red Bull have all threatened to withdraw from the sport should FIA President Mosley push ahead with the cap's introduction, and against the backdrop of the enduring FIA-FOTA stand-off – and with just six days now remaining before 2010 entries must be lodged by competitors – the Scuderia
has taken matters further in resorting to civil action through the courts.
One team that is in favour of the cap is independently-owned and Toyota-powered Williams, and whilst acknowledging in an interview with The Times
that 'even some of the teams that might accept the cap are not really very happy about the governance of the sport' – alluding to Mosley's much-criticised and some have said autocratic and unilateral handling of the matter – Head suggests that in refusing to yield an inch, Ferrari and Toyota are in danger of making themselves pariahs.
“The only two teams who don't want a budget cap are Toyota and Ferrari,” the Englishman is quoted as having said on former ITV-F1
commentator James Allen's internet blog, “but in the end they will find themselves isolated in a corner. Now that Ferrari has lost the lawsuit in Paris, they will not be so rigid. I cannot imagine that it will move far from the £40 million. I have the impression that McLaren could be okay with the budget cap and also BMW will line up behind it.”
“We want F1 to be the best it can be,” countered outspoken Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore. “We want it to be the pinnacle of motorsport. We can't run GP2 as F1 – we have to give the public the best cars and the best drivers – but at this moment I don't feel a lot of energy in our sport; the public know that something isn't right.”
It was speculated after the seven hours of intensive talks in the Principality on Friday that Mosley is now willing to make some concessions in allowing engine costs to be exempt from the cap for several years to help teams to adjust more comfortably, with further indications that common ground is increasingly being found and that a resolution is now likely to be reached.
“What we want is that F1 stays F1,” urged FOTA and Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, “and that we don't keep changing things, which disorientates the public. We want things to stabilise and over the next two years move to a real reduction in costs.”
“It's not a situation which is going to be solved simply,” acknowledged Brawn GP team principal Ross Brawn, “but at this point I have to say I am more optimistic. We've gone forwards, not backwards.”
“It was a constructive meeting,” concurred Mosley, “but the discussion goes on. The problems are still the same. We've made a little progress and I'm hopeful we'll get an agreement.”
In the wake of Ferrari's initial vow to walk away from six decades of uninterrupted F1 competition over the dispute, the Englishman had famously claimed that 'the sport would survive' without its longest-standing and most loyal entrant, but the boss of the Monaco Grand Prix, Michel Boeri, was not so sure, arguing: “What would the Monaco Grand Prix be without Ferrari? A catastrophe. Like the Cannes Film Festival without the stars.”