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 €8m engine and, next year, it is €5m 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.