FIA and teams in stalemate over 2010 budget cap

maxfia-290The FIA and the Formula One teams remain at loggerheads over plans for a budget cap in 2010 after negotiations to reach a compromise deal collapsed yesterday.

The Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) met with the FIA at Heathrow in London on Friday to debate the governing body’s controversial proposal for a voluntary £40 million budget cap in 2010.

The teams say the cap, which would grant greater technical freedom to those teams who restrict their spending, would damage the sport by creating a two-tier system – and several teams, most significantly Ferrari, have threatened to quit next year if the decision is not overturned.

But the FIA refused to back down and the meeting ended without agreement being reached. The teams went on to hold a separate meeting to develop alternative proposals to the budget cap ahead of the May 29 deadline for entry in the 2010 season.

FIA President Max Mosley told reporters: “It was quite a friendly meeting, but in the end all that happened was that the teams have gone off to see if they can come up with something better than the cost cap.”

“We explained we cannot put back the entry date, as this has all been published, and we cannot disadvantage the potential new teams who will come in. But we are prepared to listen to whatever they have to say.

Although the cap is voluntary, a two-tier system could be avoided if all the teams agree to sign up. That is what the FIA are gunnning for.

However it is highly unlikely that the bigger teams such as Ferrari and McLaren will agree to capping their budgets given the scale of their investment in the sport over the past few decades.

“We have explained that we want everyone to race under the same regulations,” said Mosley. We have explained that we would like all of the teams to come in under the cost cap and that is what they have gone off to consider.

“We have said that we cannot see why anyone wouldn’t want to operate under the cost cap, and it would mean a gradual relaxation of the technical regulations – which all the engineers would want. We said in the end the choice was between intellectual freedom and financial constraint, or intellectual constraint and financial freedom – which is what they have had up until now.

“We have pointed out, and it is something the engineers have said, that current F1 consists of endless refinement at enormous expense and we want to move away from that and have invention and creativity, but we can only do that if we restrict the cost – because if we have unrestricted cost nobody would be able to afford it.

“I think some of the teams agree with that idea, and some don’t, and they have gone away to discuss it.”

The teams have yet to agree on alternative option to the proposed budget cap, but Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali remains hopeful that a compromise can be reached.

“It is work in progress,” he said. We are working hard to find a solution and I think today with the teams we showed our unity, with a different perspective but it was important to reiterate our concept”

“I think that the meeting shows that on one side there is a very united group of teams that were discussing with the president of the FIA about the future, and above all this regulation. That is what I can say,” he added.