F1 at crisis point as FIA lashes out at FOTA

d07esp150-2Formula One’s governing body, the FIA, has launched a scathing attack on the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) accusing it of deliberately standing in the way of agreement being reached over the future direction of the sport.

Formula One was plunged into disarray earlier this week when the FIA published its entry list for 2010 and included those teams who had lodged conditional entries in protest at the proposed £40 million budget cap for next year.

The eight rebel teams led by Ferrari, Red Bull and Toro Rosso, and to a lesser extent McLaren, BMW Sauber, Toyota, Renault and Brawn are rigorously opposed to a cap and favour alternative means to reduce costs such as the standardisation of key parts on the car.

FIA President Max Mosley issued an ultimatum to the teams calling on them to drop their conditional entries by 19 June, and he indicated he was prepared to make some concessions such as increasing the budget cap to 100 million euros.

However, with the teams opposed to what they see as deeper root problems behind the budget cap, specifically poor governance and the lack of consultation with the teams, it looks unlikely that a resolution will be reached before 19 June.

Events escalated even further today. In a move which some conspiracists will see as a classic divide and conquer strategy from Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone, the FIA launched a stinging attack on the Formula One Teams Association suggesting that divisions within the organisation were standing in the way of a resolution.

The FIA made specific reference to what it believed was a consensus-reaching meeting with four team principals before the publication of the 2010 entry list Ross Brawn (Brawn GP), Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari), Christian Horner (Red Bull Racing) and John Howett (Toyota).

The FIA said in a statement: “During the meeting, FOTA acknowledged that the FIA wanted to encourage the introduction of new teams in the championship to maintain its vitality and economic viability in the long-term,” the FIA said in a statement.”

“Agreement was reached on technical regulations for 2010 which offered assistance for new teams from the currently competing teams in several key areas.

“It was also agreed that the objectives of FOTA and the FIA on cost reduction were now very close and that financial experts from both sides should meet at the earliest opportunity to finalise the details.

“It was proposed by the FIA that any perceived governance and stability issues could best be eliminated by extending the 1998 Concorde Agreement until 2014, thus avoiding lengthy negotiations for a new agreement. This was well-received by those present, who undertook to report the suggestion to the other FOTA members.

“The FIA believed it had participated in a very constructive meeting with a large measure of agreement. The FIA was therefore astonished to learn that certain FOTA members not present at the meeting have falsely claimed that nothing was agreed and that the meeting had been a waste of time.

“There is clearly an element in FOTA which is determined to prevent any agreement being reached, regardless of the damage this may cause to the sport. The FIA will publish shortly a detailed and documented account of the facts in its dealings with FOTA.”

Crisis talks between the FIA and FOTA will continue this week.