Tuesday, 16 June 2009

FIA confirms budget cap regulations to remain in place for 2010 as originally planned

In a statement released on Tuesday morning, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said that its plans for a £40 million budget cap for next year will now go ahead as planned after talks with the representatives from the teams' association FOTA ended without any compromise deal. After a meeting between the FIA president Max Mosley and FOTA representatives on Thursday the 11th of June, it appeared that there have been talks of some kind of a potential compromise deal that could be agreed by both parties. To take those talks further, financial experts on behalf of the FIA met with FOTA representatives again on Monday in London. According to the FIA, that meeting ended without any solution that is agreeable by both parties.

Ever since the FIA announced the new regulations for next year including the controversial budget cap measure, the FOTA teams have been continuously voicing their concerns on the new regulations ruining the spirit and integrity of Formula 1. On top of that, teams have also been concerned about the current governance of the sport and how the governing body have been changing the regulations so drastically without prior consultation with the teams. That is why the teams' umbrella organisation FOTA have been at odds with the FIA and both sides have continuously been in discussions to try and come to a solution to this crisis. Now that this political battle seems to be taking a turn for the worse, talks of a potential breakaway championship - set up by all the current manufacturer teams in Formula 1 - are getting stronger by the minute. In fact Red Bull Racing's Australian driver Mark Webber, writing in his column for the BBC, said that the idea of a breakaway series is very appealing. One of the directors of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA), Webber also said that Formula 1 is about the best drivers in the world competing in the best open-wheeled racing cars in the world, but if that cannot happen as the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, it can take place in another form but that will still be the pinnacle of motorsport. What Webber says effectively means that even if the FOTA teams pull out of Formula 1 and set up their rival breakaway championship, the FOTA run series will still be the ultimate prestigious pinnacle of world motorsport rather than a watered down Formula 1.

So it will be interesting to see now how FOTA responds to these developments to this ongoing crisis. The FIA-set deadline for Friday the 19th of June is looming on the five teams that were given conditional entries for next year, and according to the FIA if these teams want to take part in next year's Formula 1 Championship they must withdraw the conditions they put in with their applications. As a reminder, these five teams are Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes, BrawnGP, ING Renault F1, Panasonic Toyota Racing and BMW Sauber F1. Despite the FIA's attempt to split the FOTA by granting the other three FOTA members unconditional entries, the teams remain strong and united. Those three teams which include Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Toro Rosso and Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro have all said that in spite of the FIA's unconditional entries, they remain committed to FOTA and will not enter next year's championship if their conditions are not satisfied. FOTA's chairman and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo have consistently said that if this crisis cannot be resolved in the way that FOTA wants, then the teams will lead a breakaway championship. Toyota boss John Howett, who is FOTA's vice-chairman, have also voiced similar opinions regarding the crisis. So everyone will be looking closely at the fate of Formula 1 which now rests in the hands of the FIA and the teams' organisation FOTA. Until next time, safe driving everyone!

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