FOTA accuse FIA and Manor of ‘conflict of interest’

The well-publicised disagreements between the FIA and FOTA are moving to a different arena today. The FOTA teams are thought to be preparing a complaint that the acceptance of Manor Grand Prix onto the F1 grid in 2010 constitutes a conflict of interest from senior figures in the FIA.

The Guardian reports that certain teams are particularly unhappy with Manor’s inclusion. The alleged conflict of interest is thought to lie in the fact that FIA Chief Steward Alan Donnelly’s company Sovereign Strategy has an associate director named Jane Nottage. Coincidentally, allege the teams, Nottage is also involved with Manor, as she is their PR chief too.

Donnelly is also alleged to have shown a Manor executive round the paddock at the European Grand Prix next year. A source close to Donnelly apparently denies any direct link from the Chief Steward to Manor, and that the hospitality was nothing out of the ordinary. But the situation is compounded by Manor’s technical director post having been taken by Nick Wirth, an ex-Benetton engineer and close associate of Max Mosley in the past.

Donnelly has long been a target of the teams, as he is known as Max Mosley’s ‘enforcer’ in the paddock. The competition for places on the 2010 grid was very hot, and Manor was to some extent a surprise inclusion as teams such as Prodrive and Epsilon Euskadi were left out. Further intrigue might be added by the supposition of allegiance to FOTA from those teams, and perhaps to the FIA from Manor etc. However, it is likely that this latest spat is a side issue, and will not come to much. The main battle still drags on, as F1 waits to see whether Mosley’s strong words over the weekend will have an effect on FOTA.