Flavio Briatore has echoed Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) Vice-President John Howett's assertion that the sport's competitors are 'not bluffing' in their threat to quit should Max Mosley press on with his contentious budget cap proposal, but by the same token he is adamant that 'we don't want war with anybody' either.
The ongoing FIA-FOTA stand-off over the new £40 million limit shows no signs of reaching any kind of resolution or compromise in Istanbul this weekend, and Howett has admitted that the prospect of the rebel teams forming their own 'breakaway' series – a move first evoked back in 2005, and though crushed at the time one that has since re-entered the realms of possibility – should not be taken lightly.
Eight of the FOTA members – all save for independent outfits Williams and Force India – have lodged conditional entries for the 2010 world championship campaign, dependent upon FIA President Mosley abandoning his latest cost-cutting initiative. Should he not, then they have vowed to take their ball away and play elsewhere – leaving newcomers like Prodrive/Aston Martin, Lola, Team USF1, Campos Meta 1, Litespeed GP, Team Superfund, March, N.Technology and Brabham Grand Prix Limited to potentially fill the void.
“I confirm that we're not bluffing,” underlined Toyota Motorsport President Howett, “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 1. From our side, it isn't power politics or war.
“What we are asking is reasonable. 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.”
Those sentiments are clearly shared by Renault F1 managing director Briatore, a man famously never averse to speaking his mind on controversial topics. The Italian explained that the teams simply wish to be able to determine their own budgets and reduce costs at a rate that is comfortable to them – rather than having to bring down their expenditure, in some cases as high as £150 million or £200 million a year, to just £40 million in time for the 2010 campaign, what they contend would be an impossible task.
FOTA has also made clear its desire for Mosley's governance of the top flight – coming under increasing scrutiny – to be urgently reviewed and for a new commercial rights-stipulating Concorde Agreement to be signed before the 12 June date when successful 2010 applicants will be revealed. Briatore suggested Mosley had taken advantage of the fall-out from Honda's sudden and shock withdrawal from competition at the end of last year – a move made in response to falling car sales due to the global credit crunch and poor on-track return for its considerable investment – to force through his reforms without first consulting the teams about them.
“After Honda decided to not be part of it, it looked like everybody would follow the Honda route,” the 59-year-old contended. “There was this really panicking situation about [needing] more teams in Formula 1. We didn't get that point, because none of the teams still in Formula 1 want to stop. Honda is not Honda – it's Brawn. It's not that urgent to find GP3 – no, whatever – Formula 3 teams to join Formula 1, because everybody has guaranteed to participate in the championship. We're still here. Next year, if everything is normal, I think everybody will still be here. We didn't understand all this panicking that there are no more teams in Formula 1 next year, and why we need to change everything.
“I think it is very clear. Everybody in the last two weeks says there is a war. There is no war; we don't want any war. I think we have a responsibility to the employees that we have; I think we have a responsibility to the fans and to the supporters of Formula 1. We don't want war with anybody – what we want is governance; we want a system that was always in Formula 1; we want a Formula 1 Commission; we want a Concorde Agreement; we want stability; we want to cut costs and make Formula 1 more efficient.