Mario Theissen – who by his own admission has been one of the most 'pessimistic' members of the F1 paddock regarding the likelihood of a peace deal being struck between the FIA and the eight-strong Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) – has now confessed that he is 'optimistic' that a light at the end of the seemingly interminable tunnel is finally in sight.
Whilst there is not expected to be any formal announcement in Hungary this weekend – the second deadline that looks set to come and go, following the '48 hours' promise made by the sport's supremo Bernie Ecclestone almost a fortnight ago [see separate story – click here
] – it is widely anticipated that having been readied for signing, pen will be put to paper during the coming week on the all-important commercial rights-governing Concorde Agreement and accompanying Cost Regulation Document, now in the possession of the FIA World Motorsport Council (WMSC).
That would bring to an end the fractious FIA/FOTA civil war and damaging political in-fighting that has been rumbling on for months, stave off for good the threat of a manufacturer-spearheaded breakaway series and unite the top flight. Until the end of 2012, at least.
“I am really optimistic now,” revealed BMW Motorsport Director Theissen. “I have been rather pessimistic in the past on both cost reduction and the Concorde Agreement, but now it looks like we can do it within a few days. On a race weekend we have other things to do, but I think [it is achievable] within one week.”
“I think that we are very, very close to reaching a solution,” concurred Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali, quoted by The Associated Press
. “As always with such a complexity, the closer you get to the goal the more everyone is trying to squeeze or to find different things around it, but I am optimistic that before the August break everything will be sorted out.”
The belated rapprochement
between the two hitherto warring factions is understood to have been facilitated by FIA President Max Mosley's definitive concession to stand down from the most powerful and influential post in international motor racing at the end of his current fourth term in October, removing for FOTA one of the key sources of dispute – though how the potential election of the Englishman's favoured successor, controversial former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt, would go down remains to be seen. All Theissen would say of the two presidential candidates – Todt and 1981 World Rally Champion Ari Vatanen – was that both are 'reputable persons' with adequate knowledge and experience of the sport.
Whilst maintaining the 2010 regulations as they have been this season, the new resolution will call upon all teams to reduce expenditure to early 1990s levels within the space of two years – rather than having to adhere to the unpopular and highly contentious £40 million budget cap suggested by Mosley, described by FOTA at the outset as unworkable.
“I think Formula 1 has reacted responsibly,” summarised Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner. “It has moved to get its costs under control. It's positive to see three new teams entered for next year which would have been impossible, I think, without the resource restrictions that will be introduced.”