Force India faces becoming the second team to be suspended from its position within the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA), after following Williams' lead in changing its conditional entry for next year's world championship into an unconditional one.
Williams found itself at odds with FOTA's stance when it broke ranks last week in signing up unconditionally to compete next season [see separate story – click here
], whilst the remaining nine FOTA representatives waited until the day of the deadline on Friday to submit their own entries en masse
, all on the strict condition that Max Mosley abandons his controversial £40 million budget cap initiative for 2010 – a proviso suggested by the FIA President himself.
The uneasy stand-off and battle of egos between FOTA and the sport's governing body shows no sign of abating or reaching any sort of satisfactory resolution in Istanbul this weekend, with neither side seemingly willing to give an inch – but the position of FOTA, only a fortnight ago described as sharing a 'common view' on the topic, has inarguably been weakened by the defection of two of its independent outfits in the shape of Williams and FIF1. The FIA is due to publish the list of the 13 successful teams on 12 June.
“It's likely they may be suspended,” FOTA vice-chairman John Howett is quoted as having said by The Associated Press
, on the subject of Force India's 'betrayal'. “I haven't really had the opportunity to speak to [Force India chairman] Vijay [Mallya] directly. He has submitted, in accordance with FOTA, a conditional entry, but apparently, because of other binding legal activities due to funding or other issues, they needed to submit an official entry.
“He (Mallya) will be here over the weekend, and I will speak to him then. I have to say I think it is the intention of FOTA to suspend them based on a face-to-face discussion with Vijay, but he has confirmed to me, through [deputy team principal] Bob Fearnley, that he is totally supportive and committed to FOTA.”
'While the Force India Formula One Team is broadly in agreement with the FOTA objectives, commercial obligations have demanded that Force India review its conditional entry jointly submitted by FOTA on deadline day (29 May),' revealed a statement released by the Silverstone-based squad.
'This has been done today with full transparency between all parties. The details of the team's position will be discussed between Vijay Mallya and FOTA vice-chairman John Howett tomorrow.'
It has been speculated that current runaway world championship leaders Brawn GP could also go against FOTA in entering unconditionally for 2010 given the public opposition to the ex Honda-F1 concern's outstanding success from such as fellow FOTA members Ferrari and Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore. Team principal Ross Brawn, however, is adamant that FOTA's own cost-cutting ideas are very much the way forward.
“The recent proposal of the teams makes a great many concessions to the FIA,” the Englishman told German publication Auto Motor und Sport
. “The result would be the same as Mosley's budget limit.”
No official FIA-FOTA meetings are scheduled for the Turkish Grand Prix weekend, but Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali was reportedly seen on Thursday entering the FIA motor home in the paddock of the Istanbul Park Circuit to further discuss the inflammatory matter with FIA representative Alan Donnelly in Mosley's absence.