Berthold Bouman, F1 Correspondent
Scuderia Ferrari and Red Bull Racing have announced they will withdraw from the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) after an ongoing row about how to reduce the costs in Formula One, as described in the Resource Reduction Agreement (RRA). Both teams have recently warned the FOTA they would leave the organization if they would fail to reach an agreement with the rest of the teams.
“It was a difficult decision and a great deal of thought went into it. It was taken reluctantly after analysing the current situation and the stalemate when it came to debate on some issues that were at the core of why the association was formed.”
However, Ferrari claim they are not against the RRA itself, and the statement further read, “Some of the major achievements of the association during these years, also worked out in conjunction with the FIA, centered around cost reduction, which was of significant benefit to everyone, the big teams and the small ones. Ferrari was on the front line in this area even before the birth of FOTA and it intends to continue down this route to ensure the sustainability of the sport in the long term.
"Now, however, it is necessary to find some new impetus to move it along because FOTA's drive has run its course, despite the excellent work of current President Martin Whitmarsh in trying to reach agreement between the various positions for the common good.”
There was already a FOTA emergency meeting during the Brazilian Grand Prix last weekend, and after the meeting Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner commented, “We met and it has been decided that the RRA has effectively been taken out of FOTA for the time being, to try and achieve a solution.”
Red Bull has recently been accused of breaking the RRA, and also Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes have been under fire. Two weeks ago Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko had also criticized the agreement, “It is totally full of holes. Anyone can simply circumvent the rules. So we are not signing that,” he said to the German Bild newspaper.
Red Bull Racing also issued a short statement today, but the Austrian team also mentioned they are still trying to find a solution, “Red Bull Racing can confirm it has served notice to withdraw from FOTA, the team will remain committed to finding a solution regarding cost saving in Formula One.”
Also Ferrari hinted not all is lost yet, and they are also prepared to discuss the matter again, “Ferrari will continue to work with the other teams to make the current RRA, aimed at controlling costs, more effective and efficient, modifying it to make it more stringent in key areas such as aerodynamics, to rebalance some aspects such as testing and to expand it to areas currently not covered such as engines.”
It is understood teams have a two-month notice period if they wish to withdraw from the FOTA, so in fact FOTA and the two break-away teams still have until February to settle their differences. Meanwhile a FOTA spokeswoman has confirmed the withdrawal, “I can confirm this is the case. We are trying to arrange a meeting to sit the teams around the table and see where this takes us.”
In December 2010 HRT already withdrew from the FOTA, as they claimed the organization was more focused on the bigger teams, with Ferrari and Red Bull now also leaving, only nine of the 12 teams are now represented by the FOTA.
The FOTA was originally founded in July 2008, and its main goal was to represent the Formula One teams during the negotiations for the new 2013 Concorde Agreement, a commercial agreement between the teams, the sports' governing body FIA (Federation Internationale de L’Automobile) and the commercial rights holders FOM (Formula One Management) and CVC.