The FIA has unveiled the 13 teams that will provisionally make up the 2010 Formula 1 field, with all ten present incumbents on the list, two expected newcomers and one bolt from the blue – but with five of the entries 'conditional' and further discussions in the pipeline, it is possible that the shape of the grid could still be set to change.
Following negotiations between the sport's governing body and the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) that continued practically right up until the announcement, it has been revealed that McLaren-Mercedes, BMW-Sauber, Renault, Toyota and Brawn GP are all still lodged as conditional entries, with the official statement adding that 'the FIA has invited them to lift those conditions following further discussions to be concluded not later than close of business on Friday, 19 June'.
The conditional entries are contingent upon Max Mosley ditching his much-disputed £40 million budget cap in favour of teams being at liberty to introduce their own cost-reduction measures over the coming years on a more gradual sliding scale, and agreeing terms for a new commercial rights-governing Concorde Agreement.
Whilst Mosley is open to discussing the latter and has agreed to discard the 'optional' nature of the cap – telling Reuters
that 'we can agree that all teams race under the same 2010 rules; these would be as published, but with the technical and sporting advantages originally offered to cost-cap teams deleted' – he has repeatedly insisting that abandoning the cap altogether is not
an option, adamant that a drastic reduction in expenditure in what is by some margin the world's most expensive and extravagant sport is the only way by which to entice new teams to join the fray and safeguard F1's future against the backdrop of the current global economic climate.
On the list as unconditional entries, meanwhile, are Williams and Force India, stable-mates Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso – as anticipated – and, more controversially perhaps, Ferrari. Along with rivals Toyota, Renault and Red Bull, the Scuderia
had been one of the teams most vociferously outspoken in its opposition to Mosley's contentious cost-cutting initiative – with F1's longest-serving and arguably most loyal entrant vowing to end six decades' unbroken participation at the highest level should the FIA President not back down. A manufacturer-spearheaded breakaway series has been mooted as a 'worst-case scenario' – but a scenario nonetheless.
Ferrari had argued that in driving through the cap without first consulting competitors about it, the FIA had reneged on exclusive rights it guaranteed to the team in 2005 in exchange for the secret €100 million deal brokered by Luca di Montezemolo that quashed the original danger of a breakaway championship and led to the signing of the current Concorde Agreement.
However, Mosley's contention was always that Ferrari remains contractually-bound to honour its own side of the bargain, by which it committed to F1 until 2012 – and the Englishman is adamant that the Maranello-based outfit gave up its special rights when it helped to form FOTA. It remains to be seen what will be the next salvo in the Ferrari-FIA war.
The new arrivals on the grid, finally, are North Carolina-based Team USF1, Campos Grand Prix and, somewhat surprisingly, Manor Grand Prix, seemingly based on front-running F3 Euroseries outfit Manor Motorsport. Respected Italian builder Dallara will be responsible for the Campos chassis, with Wirth Research behind the construction of Manor's car. All three teams will be supplied customer engines by Cosworth.
That means there is no room at the inn for the Mosley-founded March, Bernie Ecclestone's old team Brabham Grand Prix/Formtech, Lotus/Litespeed GP, the Alex Wurz-led Team Superfund, N.Technology, Epsilon Euskadi or, most unexpectedly of all, iconic British marque Lola and Prodrive/Aston Martin. The latter, indeed, was widely seen as being in pole position for a slot, with Prodrive chairman David Richards boasting past F1 experience at Benetton and BAR-Honda, and having previously come close to entering the top flight in his own right last year, until his Mercedes-powered entry was torpedoed by the customer car row.