Ross Brawn has admitted that back-tracking on decisions already taken ahead of next year's Formula One world championship is perhaps the biggest sticking point when it comes to finding a peaceful solution to the escalating dispute between the FIA and teams' organisation FOTA.

Speaking at the regular post-practice press conference at Silverstone, on a day that had begin with news of the proposed FOTA breakaway series and ended with the threat of legal action from the governing body - all interrupted by some on-track action - Brawn admitted that, with teams signing up to the FIA's 2010 proposals, it would be hard for those rules to be torn up to bring the dissidents back into the fold.

"The difficulty now is that decisions have been made and how do we reverse out of those decisions?" he said, "One of the dilemmas that the teams have is that the rules are published, five teams have entered under those rules, and the rules, as they stand today, are that, next year, there's a ?40m budget cap [but] you can have a movable rear wing, you can have four-wheel-drive, you can have double-strength KERS, any number of things. .

"Now, in fairness, [FIA president] Max [Mosley] has said that he will correct those, he will put those back to how they should be and we'll operate under one set of rules [rather than the two-tier F1 opposed by FOTA members] but, by definition, we're asking for governance which would mean that the governance needs those teams to agree to those rule changes, otherwise it's not governance. So how do we get those teams to agree to those rule changes if the governance, by definition, means that they have to agree to it. There are five teams involved and there are no guarantees.

"We've got ourselves into this sort of vicious loop. The teams do not share the same opinion as the FIA in the way that it needs to be developed, and we have ended up with a situation where some teams have now entered with a different set of regulations to what the other [FOTA] teams wish to race under. Those regulations can change, [but] they have to be changed with the consent of the teams that are already in F1, so we are saying 'come and join us and we will change the rules again', but what guarantees do we have. It is a very difficult situation. Some teams are more relaxed about finding a solution to that than others but, collectively, as a group, it was very difficult for FOTA to accept that. We want to find solutions but, if we can't, we will have to find another championship to race in."

"Max, quite genuinely, may believe that he can swing it, but we've got to enter the championship on the assumption that those things will be corrected and sorted. I don't know how it [can be] done, maybe inducements that are made to the [five committed] teams to give them support in some way, because obviously they're going to struggle in Formula One."

Insisting that the removal of Mosley from his position as the head of the FIA was not among the conditions the eight FOTA teams were placing on their F1 entries, Brawn admitted that some cost-cutting initiatives put in place by the governing body had been beneficial, but noted that it was the extent of the changes being proposed by the president that had made a resolution difficult to find.

"I think that, after the shock of Honda leaving F1, there was a lot of concern that we reacted in a correct way," he claimed, "We started with the correct initiatives, or intensified those initiatives, as, in fairness, there were a lot of initiatives already started by the teams with general support from the FIA.

"The engine manufacturers within FOTA had introduced the EUR8m engine and, next year, it is EUR5m so, for my team, that is a godsend. There were a lot of initiatives already underway and perhaps, with the economic environment, there was a need to review those initiatives and see if we could intensify them - but in a structured way. A balance needed to be kept because there were many reasons why Honda left F1, not only an economic argument. There was a strategic argument as well and the reaction needed to be the correct reaction.

"In [FOTA's] view, it did not need to be as dramatic as the FIA felt was necessary in the circumstances to protect F1, and that is really where the differences of opinion have come. I think the balance between the opinion of the teams and the FIA has been difficult to reconcile and, in trying to reconcile those differences, the relationships have suffered. At the present time, there is a very difficult relationship between the teams whose genuine ambition is not to take over F1, but who have a massive investment in F1 and want their investment respected.

"We have to have a regulatory body that sits and covers those things impartially for the teams, but I think FOTA has been a great initiative. It was never set up to be a challenge to any of the authorities within F1 or the commercial rights holder. It was set up for the teams to try and work together to present solutions which they had all agreed on. If I give you one small example, there are completely different ends of the spectrum in terms of people's wind tunnel facilities. You've got Toyota with two wind tunnels running flat out 24 hours a day, seven days a week and they made a concession to reduce the hours they run in the wind tunnel to 60 hours total ... in order to compromise with the smaller teams who didn't have the budget to run two wind tunnels full time, 24 hours seven days a week.

"That's one example where compromise has been found between the FOTA teams, where the large groups have accepted compromise in the interest of the smaller groups. As a smaller group, I can't ask Toyota to come down completely to my level, but I know that there's a smaller difference between what we can afford to do in the wind tunnel and what they can afford to do, so there has been incredible movement within FOTA. The testing agreement is a totally voluntary agreement between the teams. It wasn't an initiative started by the FIA, and, to my knowledge, nobody has ever breached the agreement, so it is possible for the teams to see the way forward and act honourably and sensibly in these things."

Brawn pointed out that, in his opinion, the sport needed to include both the major manufacturers and the smaller, independent, teams, even though the requirements of the two groups were, financially and technically, disparate.

"I've not been an independent for very long, but I've seen both sides of the coin. I've seen life at Ferrari, I saw life prior to that at Benetton - where we won the world championship on a total of ?30m a year - and I've seen life at Honda. Now I've seen life as an independent and the key to all of this is finely balanced between the needs of all the groups, all the teams in F1.

"We've got to have systems so that the smaller independent teams can survive - with support from the manufacturers where need be and other initiatives. But, if we have systems that shut out the manufacturers completely, I think it's to the detriment of the sport. The manufacturers bring a huge amount into this industry - they bring a huge amount of investment, they bring a huge amount of employment, people, and we've got to be careful not to destroy that and not to shut that out completely.

"It can't be left unharnessed, we all know that, but the door shouldn't shut completely on the input that manufacturers make. It's the investment of Mercedes-Benz that gives me an EUR8m engine, it's the investment of Toyota that's giving [Williams] an engine at a price that is incredible, [and] leasing a Ferrari engine a couple of years ago was EUR25m... We survive because of the manufacturers. They absorb the research costs, they absorb the development costs and they give us an engine - not a subsidy, but an engine that is provided on a cost-plus basis. They are not taking any profits out of it, they're just doing it as a service to independent teams.

"So we have to find that balance between what F1 can offer for manufacturers and what it can offer for independents. We can't go too far in shutting out the manufacturers because it will be to the detriment of the sport."

With all the suggestions that the ongoing war of words is little more than a battle of egos now unwilling to have their pride dented, Brawn also insisted that everyone involved needed to refocus on the sport and those it encompasses beyond the confines of the paddock.

"Formula One doesn't belong to the teams," he emphasised, "I don't believe it belongs to Formula One. It belongs to the people. Formula One belongs to all of us. It is not something which is owned by anybody. It is like the Olympic Games, the World Cup. It is an entity in itself. It needs respecting and nurturing and it needs to be developed....."


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