The Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) has responded to criticism from the FIA for having 'walked out' of a cost-cutting meeting at the Nürburgring yesterday (Wednesday), in accusing the sport's governing body of backtracking on the agreement previously reached between the two sides, denying its competitors voting rights and placing 'the future of Formula 1 in jeopardy' once more.
The uneasy truce that has lingered between the two hitherto warring factions was abruptly shattered just days ahead of this weekend's German Grand Prix at the Eifel Mountains circuit. The purpose of the FIA/FOTA meeting was designed to generate formal unanimity between all 13 of the top flight's 2010 entrants regarding the abolition of Max Mosley's controversial £40 million budget cap, and to sign a 'legally-binding agreement...to reduce costs' to early 1990s levels within two years and set the minimum car weight at 620kg, the two key issues that remain unresolved.
Whilst the FIA stated that the representatives for all eight FOTA members – Ferrari, McLaren-Mercedes, BMW-Sauber, Renault, Toyota, Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Toro Rosso and current world championship leaders Brawn GP – scuppered talks by simply 'walking out' [see separate story – click here
], FOTA, perhaps unsurprisingly, gave a rather different account...
Having been refused in their request for the meeting of the technical working group to be postponed – 'on the grounds that no new Concorde Agreement would be permitted before a unanimous approval of the 2010 regulations was achieved', explained a FOTA statement – the teams concluded that they had 'no option other than to terminate their participation'.
During a meeting of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) in Paris a fortnight ago, the governing body had agreed to abandon the unloved budget cap initiative in return for FOTA similarly abandoning its threat to form a manufacturer-spearheaded breakaway series free from Mosley's increasingly contentious and autocratic jurisdiction, a move that would tear F1 quite literally in two. FOTA is adamant that at no stage during the 24 June reunion in the French capital did the FIA demand 'any requirement for unanimous agreement on regulations change' as part of the peace deal.
'The team managers were informed by Mr. Charlie Whiting of the FIA that, contrary to previous agreements, the eight FOTA teams are not currently entered into the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship and have no voting rights in relation to the technical and sporting regulations thereof,' continued the teams' statement on this week's meeting, reported by The Associated Press
'However, it is clear to the FOTA teams that the basis of the 2010 technical and sporting regulations was already established in Paris. It will be remembered that all eight active FOTA members were included on the 'accepted' entry list as endorsed by the FIA World Motor Sport Council and communicated by an FIA press statement on 24 June.
'As endorsed by the World Motor Sport Council and clearly stated in the FIA press statement of 24 June, 'the rules for 2010 onwards will be the 2009 regulations as well as further regulations agreed prior to 29 April, 2009′. The FOTA members undertook the Paris agreement and the subsequent discussions in immaculate faith and with a desire to engage with all new and existing teams on the future of Formula 1.
'To subsequently go against the will of the WMSC and the detail of the Paris agreement puts the future of Formula 1 in jeopardy. As a result of these statements, the FOTA representatives at the subsequent Technical Working Group were not able to exercise their rights and therefore had no option other than to terminate their participation.'
Non-FOTA members Williams and Force India, as well as newcomers USF1, Campos Meta 1 and Manor Grand Prix were also present at the Nürburgring meeting, but are contrastingly understood to be firmly entered for the 2010 campaign.
The peace deal was initially rocked just days after the entente cordiale
had been reached, when Mosley accused FOTA of a lack of respect in wrongly conveying the facts of the agreement and 'dancing on my grave before I was buried'. Moreover, the Englishman hinted that contrary to his vow to step down from the most powerful and influential role in international motorsport when his current fourth term expires in October, he may now be persuaded to stand again – much to the teams' anger.