Suspicions that the ongoing row over F1's Resource Restriction Agreement could cause a rift within the previously unified teams' association FOTA appear to have been borne out, following news that Ferrari and Red Bull have both quit the group.
If the news had been purely that Ferrari had left, it would have been taken with more of a pinch of salt, as the Scuderia is well known for posturing in an effort to get what it wants, but Red Bull's involvement suggests something more serious is afoot. Both are required to give two months' notice of their decision to walk away, leaving a little time for negotiation to right the ship, but there can be no denying that the RRA is currently proving to be more divisive than anything Bernie Ecclestone or Max Mosley came up with in recent years.
While neither team is fielding calls about their decision, both FOTA and Ferrari have issued statements confirming the split, with the former announcing notice of resignation from two unnamed teams and the Prancing Horse going into a little more detail about its reasons.
"Ferrari has informed FOTA president Martin Whitmarsh that it is leaving the organisation made up of the teams competing in the F1 world championship," Ferrari's missive began, "It was a difficult decision and a great deal of thought went into it. It was taken reluctantly after analysing the current situation and the stalemate when it came to debate on some issues that were at the core of why the association was formed, indeed with Ferrari and Luca di Montezemolo as the main instigator and promoter of ideas.
"Some of the major achievements of the association during these years, also worked out in conjunction with the FIA, centred around cost reduction, which was of significant benefit to everyone, the big teams and the small ones. Ferrari was on the front line in this area, even before the birth of FOTA and it intends to continue down this route to ensure the sustainability of the sport in the long term. Now, however, it is necessary to find some new impetus to move it along because FOTA's drive has run its course, despite the excellent work of [the] current president in trying to reach agreement between the various positions for the common good.
"Ferrari will continue to work with the other teams to make the current RRA, Resource Restriction Agreement, aimed at controlling costs, more effective and efficient, modifying it to make it more stringent in key areas such as aerodynamics, to rebalance some aspects such as testing and to expand it to areas currently not covered such as engines.
"F1, like the rest of the world in fact, is currently going through a delicate period. Ferrari wants to work with all parties for the future of a sport that expresses the highest level of motor sport technology. We must return to a situation where F1 is really a test bed for advanced technological research, the results of which can be transferred to Granturismo cars. In addition, we must not forget that this sport must become more user friendly and more accessible to the general public and furthermore, it cannot be the only professional sport where it is practically impossible to do any training: the number of days of testing must be increased so that the drivers, especially the young ones who lack experience and the teams, can be adequately prepared, as well as providing more opportunities for them to come into contact with spectators and sponsors."
It is not thought that Ferrari and Red Bull have quit in a unified walk-out, however, with the Milton Keynes-based team thought to object to moves proposed to limit the cost of spending on aerodynamics, its area of speciality, while the Scuderia, as seen above, clearly advocates a reduction in the importance placed on the science.