Williams has been sensationally suspended from the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA), after the former multiple world championship-winning outfit became the first of the paddock's present incumbents to submit an entry application for the 2010 campaign.
Williams signed up for next season on Monday, as the dispute between the top flight's competitors and governing body the FIA rumbles on over Max Mosley's controversial new £40 million budget cap initiative. Whilst the Grove-based concern has always broadly expressed its support for the FIA President's plan, the sport's manufacturers have conversely warned that it will likely lead to a confusing 'two-tier' F1 of haves and have-nots – with Ferrari, Toyota, Renault and Red Bull all threatening to withdraw should a satisfactory resolution not be found.
After 'small progress' was made over the course of a number of discussions during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend in Monte Carlo, FOTA is meeting again in London today (Wednesday) in an effort to make further headway – but despite president Luca di Montezemolo contending on Friday that 'FOTA is now an organisation with a common view of the future', dissension within the ranks appears to be growing, and Williams has become the first victim, with its membership being temporarily suspended.
“FOTA's decision, although regrettable, is understandable,” remarked team owner Sir Frank Williams. “However, as a racing team and a company whose only business is Formula 1, with obligations to our partners and our employees, submitting our entry to next year's championship was unquestionable. In addition, we are legally obliged under our contract with FOM and the FIA to participate in the world championship until the end of 2012.”
Of the ten current teams, McLaren-Mercedes, early pace-setters Brawn GP and traditional tail-enders Force India are all similarly expected to put in their entries before the stipulated 29 May deadline, with Mosley understood to have held a secret meeting with the former in the Principality to discuss the situation.