The Formula One Teams' Association remains strong and united in its efforts to improve the sport, despite suggestions the body is split over cost restriction moves and helping smaller teams. That is the view of McLaren team principal and FOTA chairman Martin Whitmarsh, who has made it clear that HRT no longer being a member, plus ongoing friction about the Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA), are not signs of growing rifts within the organization.
HRT revealed earlier this week that it was no longer a part of FOTA, suggesting that the body only existed to help larger teams. FOTA has claimed, however, that HRT's departure came after it did not pay its subscription fees for the year.
Reacting to the HRT situation, Whitmarsh said that HRT's departure was straightforward to explain, and he disputed claims that FOTA was not there to help all teams.
"HRT failed to fulfill its membership fee obligations," he told AUTOSPORT. "It's as simple as that.
"I've read reports in the media that some HRT personnel have claimed that FOTA disfavors smaller teams. I'd take issue with that, and draw your readers' attention to comments made only this week by Tony Fernandes, himself of a smaller team, which are a ringing endorsement of the importance and value of FOTA membership."
Fernandes, the Team Lotus boss, wrote on his Twitter feed after HRT's announcement that he was fully behind FOTA.
Looking to the future, Whitmarsh has said that FOTA continues to be a solid organization, and that any disagreements that do exist can be resolved.
"Going forward, I think that FOTA has and will continue to have a very important role to play in the crucial and continuing process of keeping our sport safe, relevant, environmentally sustainable, attractive to traditional and new media alike, and above all fan-friendly," he said. "Furthermore, I feel very confident that we'll succeed in achieving those goals, working alongside FOM and the FIA, who share those ambitions.
"Formula 1 really is a great sport, and all the members of FOTA are more than capable of reconciling their mutual competitiveness with their mutual desire to see Formula 1 thrive."
Whitmarsh's belief that FOTA can move forward was backed by Renault team principal Eric Boullier, who reckons that current disagreements regarding the RRA can get sorted.
"It is hard work from FOTA and clearly Martin has been supporting us a lot, and we support this idea of this concept," Boullier said. "There is still some resistance, and we need to find out why, but we have signed an agreement which is binding. We just need to go to the end of the process."
When asked if he shared the suspicion of some teams that at least one squad may have broken the RRA in 2010, Boullier said: "We always have respected the RRA limits that have been put in place.
"Yes, I have concerns that some of them have not respected this – but I believe FOTA has the capability to find out if there were some problems. Obviously there is an auditing system, so we will know soon what is right and what is wrong."