The long-term future of F1 has been called into serious question after the Formula One Teams Association announced that it is to set up a breakaway championship.
In a statement issued late on Thursday evening, eight of the current F1 outfits – BMW Sauber, Brawn GP, Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull Racing, Toro Rosso, Renault and Toyota – revealed that they have taken the decision not to change their conditional entries for the 2010 campaign and will instead now look to go it alone with their own rival series.
While Williams and Force India had already lodged unconditional entries for next season, the remaining eight teams insisted they were unhappy with the planned budget cap rules, and indeed weren't happy with the way in which the FIA was trying to trying to push the plan through despite opposition from the teams – who had already been trying to bring down costs themselves.
As a result, those eight teams had only lodged conditional entries for the 2010 season, with the FIA setting a deadline of today [Friday] for the teams to confirm they would be competing or risk missing out on a slot on the grid.
As a result of what the teams refer to as a 'campaign to divide FOTA', they insisted there was no option but to form a breakaway.
"The FIA and the commercial rights holder have campaigned to divide FOTA," the statement read. "The wishes of the majority of the teams are ignored. Furthermore, tens of millions of dollars have been withheld from many teams by the commercial rights holder, going back as far as 2006. Despite this and the uncompromising environment, FOTA has genuinely sought compromise.
"It has become clear however, that the teams cannot continue to compromise on the fundamental values of the sport and have declined to alter their original conditional entries to the 2010 World Championship.
"These teams therefore have no alternative other than to commence the preparation for a new Championship which reflects the values of its participants and partners. This series will have transparent governance, one set of regulations, encourage more entrants and listen to the wishes of the fans, including offering lower prices for spectators worldwide, partners and other important stakeholders."
It remains to be seen how the FIA respond to the announcement, especially in the case of Ferrari, Red Bull and Toro Rosso, who were named as unconditional entries on the list revealed by the FIA a week ago; the governing body insisting they had already agreed to commit to the sport.