Formula One Teams' Association vice-president John Howett has insisted that the organisation has no intention in backing down in its war of wills with motorsport's governing body, despite the apparent defection of a second squad to the FIA's vision of the future.
Speaking from the Istanbul Park circuit, where the stand-off between FOTA and the FIA has intensified again after what appeared to be conciliatory weekend in Monaco, Howett insisted that the teams' push for conditions linked to their 2010 entry is not a pretence, despite the belief that its position has been weakened by Force India's overnight decision to follow Williams and submit an unconditional entry for next season.
With Williams suspended, and amid much sabre-rattling that suggested that the remaining teams might not file entries before the FIA-imposed 29 May deadline, the remaining nine outfits left it to the last minute before requesting places on the grid for 2010, but attached special conditions to their submissions. Above all, they demanded the end of the budget cap as proposed by FIA president Max Mosley, with the 2009 rulebook retained and complemented by cost-cutting measures put forward by the teams themselves. In addition to that, they have also stipulated that a new version of the Concorde Agreement, which governs the commercial side of the sport, be signed by the 12 June date set for the release of next year's entry.
Howett confirmed the rumour that the existing teams were encouraged, by Mosley, to submit their entries with the conditions attached, but was less able to explain the president's subsequent comments suggesting that their actions and demands are 'unrealistic'.
"We did attend a meeting where we were invited by the president to submit conditional entries," he attested, "and I think that the conditions that the FOTA members have jointly developed are the right conditions to submit our entries in and are positive for the future of the sport. If you look in the International Sporting Code, I think it is Article 75, there is a mention of conditional entry, although it does mention that it needs to be specified in the supplementary rules, which maybe it isn't."
The final entry list remains the subject of conjecture as no fewer than nine new teams have revealed that they have lodged entries for next season, alongside the ten current incumbents, with only a maximum of 13 slots available.
"I think whether or not they've done the right thing or the wrong thing is something we can't really clarify," Howett said in response to questions regarding the FIA's dilemma, "I would confirm, however, that we're not bluffing - and I don't mean that as a threat. I just think that we just have a sincere, simple, straightforward position which we believe is correct for stabilising the future of Formula One. From our side, it isn't power politics or war."
Asked what would happen should either their entries not be accepted, or the Concorde Agreement condition not be met, Howett hinted that FOTA would press ahead with a rival to Formula One - although he insisted that he did not feel that the situation would arise where a breakaway would be necessary.
"I think that what we're asking is reasonable," he claimed, "We believe that common sense will prevail but I think that, should the entries be rejected, we need to sit down and discuss the next steps. We do have a number of scenarios and scenario planning and the worst case scenario would be to have to establish our own series, but I think FOTA has a list of scenarios based on the reaction and how the response of the Federation moves forward."