Force India has become the second team to break away from the hardline stance of the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) and lodge an unconditional entry for next year's championship, the team confirmed on Friday.
Following a day of speculation about whether Force India would stand firm in its alliance with FOTA's conditional block-entry to next year's championship, the outfit announced in Turkey that it had been forced because of "commercial obligations" to go it alone and review its conditional application. Although the decision means that eight current teams are holding out on entering F1 only if they are happy with the regulations, and a new Concorde Agreement is in place, Force India insisted that its decision was not a snub at FOTA.
A team statement said: "While the Force India team is broadly in agreement with the FOTA objectives, commercial obligations have demanded that Force India review its conditional entry jointly submitted by FOTA on deadline day.
"This has been done today with full transparency between all parties. The details of the team's position will be discussed between Dr. Vijay Mallya and FOTA vice-chairman John Howett tomorrow. No further comment will be made until those discussions have taken place."
The decision by Williams and Force India means that those teams could be the only current outfits that are granted an entry to the 2010 championship when the decision is made next week by the FIA about which teams to accept. FOTA's remaining members have said that they will remain united in their decision about plans for 2010 – meaning that either all of them or none of them will enter next year.
Toyota F1 president John Howett, who is vice-chairman of FOTA, said on Friday that Force India would now probably join Williams in being suspended from the teams' organization.
"It is likely they may be suspended," explained Howett. "I haven't really had the opportunity to speak to Vijay directly, but he has committed in accordance with FOTA a conditional entry and apparently, due to commercial issues, totally unrelated to another team or support, they felt obliged because of other binding legal activities due to funding or other issues, they needed to submit an official entry.
"He will be here tomorrow and I will speak to him, and I have to say it is the intention of FOTA to suspend them based on a face-to-face discussion with Vijay. But he has confirmed to me through Bob Fearnley that he is totally supportive and committed to FOTA."