Formula 1's leading drivers have sided firmly with the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) over the budget cap war, with Jarno Trulli insisting that 'with these rules we are completely out' and double world champion Fernando Alonso describing them as 'senseless' and revealing that he would 'prefer to race in any other category before the new F1'.
Though the sport's drivers have thus far largely held their silence on the dispute – one that is threatening to tear the top flight quite literally in two and spawn a 'breakaway' series composed of the dissenters, led by the likes of Ferrari, Toyota, Renault and Red Bull – following a meeting with FOTA in Istanbul this weekend, they have finally spoken out, and warned Max Mosley that should he persist with the introduction of his £40 million cost cap in 2010, then it won't be just the teams who disappear from the grid.
Toyota star Trulli – who finished a strong fourth in the Turkish Grand Prix – is adamant that something has to give, with FOTA beginning to disintegrate following Williams and Force India's suspension in the wake of their unconditional entries for next season, and just five days now remaining before the governing body reveals the list of successful applicants to fill the 13 available grid slots in 2010.
At Mosley's behest, the eight remaining fully-fledged FOTA members have all submitted conditional entries, contingent upon the FIA President abandoning the cap for next year in favour of maintaining the 2009 rules, and agreeing to the terms of a new commercial rights-governing Concorde Agreement. It is not inconceivable that in-keeping with the ongoing political wrangling and intrigue, Mosley could employ the old divide-and-conquer tactics in allowing some of the present incumbents in but shutting others out.
Either way, should any FOTA applications be rejected, the organisation's vice-chairman and Toyota Motorsport President John Howett has hinted that whilst a breakaway is 'a worst-case scenario', it is far from an unrealistic one – and Trulli echoed that view.
“I know that in the next week something should budge, must move, otherwise there will inevitably be a split,” the Italian is quoted as having said by the BBC
. “At the moment we have to wait and see, because FOTA wants to reach a solution together with the FIA. However, all of us drivers understand very well which is the right side to be on.
“The rules are not clear. In fact, there are various rules to be defined, and all the drivers have the same feeling – to follow FOTA and respect the work they are doing on the rules and the running of Formula 1 in a serious way for the future.
“Mosley must understand there are some things that cannot happen. The rules for 2010 are not good because F1 must remain the number one sport in the world, with great technology and with the manufacturers. You can't try and bring in other teams that maybe have never had any idea about what it takes to compete at such a high level. With these rules we are completely out. They are inadequate and we (the drivers) share the same vision as FOTA.”
Those sentiments were corroborated by former team-mate and current Renault ace Alonso, who stressed that the teams had 'done their maximum' to come up with a satisfactory compromise or resolution to the damaging stand-off. The Spaniard re-affirmed BMW Motorsport Director Dr Mario Theissen's assertion that annual budgets of as much as £150 million or £200 million in some cases cannot be reduced so dramatically in such a short space of time, rather advocating a more gradual sliding slope system of cost-cutting.