Monday 22nd June 2009
Brawn GP chief executive Nick Fry has warned FIA president Max Mosley that FOTA's threat of a breakaway series is not an idle one.
The message comes ahead of what Fry sees as a "critical" meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris on Wednesday as they address the row that has threatened the existence of Formula One.
Mosley has so far belittled certain members of FOTA - describing them as "loonies" - and derided the organisation itself, claiming it has no chance of succeeding.
Mosley is also showing scant regard for the fans if he believes they would rather pay to watch a diluted version of F1 with unknown teams and drivers compared to another series that includes Ferrari, McLaren, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso.
The 69-year-old seems to think the teams will back down, but he is either miscalculating their resolve, or is foolishly misguided as the feeling from the paddock throughout the course of the British Grand Prix is that FOTA are united and standing firm.
Outlining FOTA's position, Fry said: "The alternative championship is a very realistic proposition. It's not an idle threat as some people hope.
"Is it the optimum solution? Maybe not, because we have a great championship here and it's better to improve what you've got as opposed to doing something new.
"But if we don't feel we can improve this to the level required then there won't be an option.
"We will have to do an alternative championship, and plans for that are very will progressed.
"It is clear in our mind that we could develop a championship which would have all the star teams, star drivers and the big sponsors.
"We would also offer a better deal to the fans who, at the moment, are paying through the nose to watch F1."
There is a lot at stake for all concerned, not least for F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone as his sport stands to lose £1.5billion in annual investment.
The eight teams - Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, Toyota, BMW Sauber, Red Bull Racing, Toro Rosso and Brawn GP - brought to the table 47% of F1's total revenue generation in 2008.
"The meeting on Wednesday is critical to what happens," added Fry.
"The teams have very clearly stated how they see the future - we have entered the championship with conditions and the question now is whether those conditions will be fulfilled.
"The ball is very much in the court of the FIA and we hope there is a balanced discussion at the World Council on Wednesday."
The meeting, involving Mosley and Ecclestone, is to be attended by Ferrari president and FOTA chairman Luca di Montezemolo who has so far been the staunch lobbyist against FIA's new rules for 2010.
Di Montezemolo has made no secret of his desire to seek alternative challenges for Ferrari, despite the possibility of a lengthy legal battle with world motor sport's governing body.
Further addressing the logistics of a rival series, Fry remarked: "It's a question of time.
"It's now the middle of June and we have to do something before next year, so a lot of work would need to be done.
"Time and getting everything in place are the main things, but I don't think there's any major risk.
"All the equipment is here, and there are many circuits around the world that would welcome a Formula One race.
"There are no problems with places to race, and I haven't yet met a major sponsor not behind the idea."
Worringly for the FIA, the new entrants who had been waiting in the wings to join F1, are now defecting towards FOTA.
Lola and N.Technology, who were on the reserve list, withdrew their entries last week, whilst former BAR team principal David Richards' Prodrive organisation are also watching developments with interest.
"I believe most of the new teams either have, or will, join the FOTA group," announced Fry.
Source : Planet F1