Friday, June 19, 2009

FOTA teams to form breakaway series

Friday 19th June 2009

The Formula One Teams' Association have sensationally confirmed they are to form a breakaway series, causing the greatest upheaval in the sport's 60-year history.

Following a meeting of the eight teams that currently form FOTA - Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, Toyota, BMW Sauber, Brawn GP, Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso - they have all declined to enter F1 for 2010.

Despite weeks of negotiations with FIA president Max Mosley, the two bodies have failed to find a compromise, leaving the sport in total chaos.

The FIA had issued a deadline of close of business on Friday to enter next year's championship unconditionally to McLaren, Toyota, Renault, BMW Sauber and Brawn GP in particular.

As far as the FIA are concerned, Ferrari, Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso are contracted to enter, hence the reason they were given an automatic entry by world motor sport's governing body last Friday.

Ferrari have stated that contract, signed in 2005, was invalidated by the FIA when they failed to recognise the Scuderia's right of veto over the new regulations.

Mosley unilaterally announced the introduction of a voluntary £40million budget cap at the end of April without consulting the teams, most notably Ferrari.

The FIA will point to the fact discussions over cost control were first aired with the teams as far back as January 2008.

At that stage the likes of Brawn GP team principal Ross Brawn and Toyota Motorsport president John Howett were in favour, although not Ferrari.

But it was Mosley's 'publish and be damned' attitude that has most angered the teams, and has now resulted in the greatest shock wave to hit F1 since the championship first began in 1950.

Whilst FOTA have now confirmed their intention to stage a breakaway series, the actual implementation is another matter.

Significantly, Ferrari face being embroiled in a legal wrangle that could last months, especially as Ecclestone has already stated his intent to sue for millions of pounds should they quit F1.

Any series without Ferrari will be hard to sell to television companies and race tracks around the world, the most renowned of which are signed up with Ecclestone.

Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso, both owned by the energy drinks magnate Dietrich Mateschitz, also face being embroiled in similar litigation as to Ferrari.

As for F1, their series as it stands today comprises Williams and Force India, who were forced to break with FOTA due to their own contractual obligations, and three new entrants in Campos Racing, Team US F1 and Manor F1 Team.

The FIA will steadfastly refuse to accept the stance from Ferrari, Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso.

But in the absence of the other five they will today likely name a quintet of new entrants as replacements as they do have other teams waiting in the wings, ready and willing to race under a cap.

Significantly, Lola - who were surprisingly not given one of the initial three new entries - announced on Wednesday they no longer wished to be considered by the FIA for the 2010 championship.

The suggestion is they are to join FOTA's new series, along with former BAR team principal David Richards' Prodrive organisation, who, like Lola, were surprisingly overlooked by the FIA a week ago.

One other scenario, although unlikely, is that Mosley will today back down from his previously staunch position and allow the FOTA eight to enter for 2010, with a prospect of further talks taking place in the near future.

Source : Planet F1

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