The Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA) has accused the FIA of putting the future of the sport in jeopardy after talks to sort out rules collapsed on Wednesday.
At the end of a dramatic day at the Nurburgring, which resulted in FOTA members walking out of an FIA meeting after they were told they could have no input on regulatory discussions, the teams’ organization has gone on the attack against the governing body.
FOTA members are angry at the FIA’s stance, which is that the FOTA teams do not have full entries to next year’s championship, so cannot vote on rules.
The teams were officially informed of their “observer” status on Wednesday, prompting frustration that culminated in the teams leaving the meeting.
A statement from FOTA said: “Representatives of all FOTA teams attended a meeting of the Sporting Working Group at the Nurburgring today. During the course of this meeting, the team managers were informed by Charlie Whiting of the FIA that, contrary to previous agreements, the eight FOTA teams are not currently entered into the 2010 FIA Formula 1 World Championship and have no voting rights in relation to the technical and sporting regulations thereof.
“It will be remembered that all eight active FOTA members were included on the ‘accepted’ entry list as endorsed by the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) and communicated by FIA press statement on June 24.
“In light of these claims, the FOTA representatives requested a postponement of today’s meetings. This was rejected on the grounds that no new Concorde Agreement would be permitted before a unanimous approval of the 2010 regulations was achieved.”
The statement added: “It is clear to the FOTA teams that the basis of the 2010 technical and sporting regulations was already established in Paris. As endorsed by the WMSC and clearly stated in the FIA press statement of June 24, ‘the rules for 2010 onwards will be the 2009 regulations as well as further regulations agreed prior to April 29, 2009.’
“At no point in the Paris discussions was any requirement for unanimous agreement on regulations change expressed. To subsequently go against the will of the WMSC and the detail of the Paris agreement puts the future of Formula 1 in jeopardy.
“As a result of these statements, the FOTA representatives at the subsequent Technical Working Group were not able to exercise their rights and therefore had no option other than to terminate their participation.”
The standoff between FOTA and the FIA is in stark contrast to the cooperation pact that appeared to have been struck last month prior to the most recent FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting. There, FIA president Max Mosley, FOTA chairman Luca di Montezemolo and Bernie Ecclestone agreed a deal that headed off the threat of a breakaway. Since then, however, Mosley has reconsidered his decision to step down from his role in October because of what he believes were misleading claims made by FOTA to the media.
Today’s breakdown in talks leaves the future path for the sport unclear, with the prospect of a breakaway now re-emerging. Sources suggest that F1 commercial-rights owners CVC are furious with the latest development, which has cast a cloud over the future of the sport just a few weeks after peace had broken out.
FOTA is adamant that the collapse in the discussions can be pinned firmly on the FIA. Its statement said: “The FOTA members undertook the Paris agreement and the subsequent discussions in good faith and with a desire to engage with all new and existing teams on the future of Formula 1.”Related story:• FOTA teams walk out of meeting