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GP Week : Issue 47
Compromise or Chaos? FOTA teams agree to enter/not enter as a 20-car ‘group’ FORMULA 1’s immediate future, although nowhere near concrete, took a few small but meaningful steps towards clarity over the Monaco Grand Prix weekend following days of meetings between the Formula 1 Teams’Association, FIA President Max Mosley and the sport’s Commercial Rights Holder Bernie Ecclestone. Having failed in their attempts to have an injunction against the 2010 regulations upheld by the French courts, Ferrari and their President Luca di Montezemolo, pictured right, arrived in Monaco in determined mood to find a solution. All members of FOTA sat for a four hour meeting aboard Renault Team Principal Flavio Briatore’s boat, after which di Montezemolo stated that all the teams were unified in their stance against the 2010 rules, which will impose a voluntary £40million budget cap in Formula 1, with certain technical dispensations being granted to those teams who stay under the budget cap. “What we want is that Formula 1 stays as Formula 1 and that it doesn’t become something different and go towards constant changes which confuse the public and all the others,”he said . “What we want is stability and that we work over the next two years to arrive at a way of further reducing costs.” He did, however, fire a warning shot at FIA President Max Mosley: “We will not enter the championship with these rules and with this governance,”he said, appearing to lay down a strong indicator that the argument had developed from one of regulation changes to one of who presided over the FIA. Despite meeting Mosley and admitting to positive developments, no agreement could be found between the FIA and FOTA. Discussions continued throughout the weekend, culminating in a final meeting of the teams on Sunday morning in the Renault motorhome. Toyota Motorsport President John Howett reacted to the meeting in conversation with GPWeek: “I think [the meeting was] very constructive,”he said. In response to whether FOTA’s position had stayed the same, he said: “I think from FOTA, no, but you’ll have to wait and see.” When asked if that meant a strengthening of FOTA’s resolve, he replied: “Yes, I think so.” As the Grand Prix weekend came to a conclusion, further light has been shed on these comments. It is now understood that FOTA has agreed to enter its name for positions on the 2010 F1 grid as a block unit, representing all 10 teams, but with certain preconditions – that a higher level of budget cap will be initiated in 2010 before being lowered in 2011, and that the concept of a two-tier F1 will be dropped in favour of maintaining 2009 technical regulations. If the FIA does not then amend the 2010 regulations to suit these conditions, FOTA as a group will not enter its name for Formula 1 in 2010. Mosley himself said that he believed a compromise over the level of the budget cap could be achievable, but with a matter of days until the May 29 deadline for applications to the 2010 championship, time is running out to find a workable solution.