The deadline arrived. The teams complied. Kind of. Nine teams currently contesting the International Automobile Federation (FIA) Formula One Championship signed up "conditionally" Friday for the 2010 season. Friday was the deadline set by the...
The deadline arrived. The teams complied. Kind of.
Nine teams currently contesting the International Automobile Federation (FIA) Formula One Championship signed up "conditionally" Friday for the 2010 season. Friday was the deadline set by the FIA, which sanctions the sport. Ferrari, Toyota, BMW Sauber, Brawn GP, Force India, Renault, McLaren Mercedes and Red Bull Racing, which comprises Red Bull and Scuderia Toro Rosso, agreed to join if they can operate on 2009 technical regulations.
The nine teams were unified as Formula One Teams Association (FOTA), a group that suspended Williams F1 this week after that team filed its entry Monday without conditions. The group wants a new Concorde Agreement signed by June 12, after which teams will commit through 2012, and regulations for 2010 that are based on current FIA rules with FOTA-proposed amendments.
The Concorde Agreement is the confidential accord among the FIA, F1 teams and Formula One Administration by which the sport operated from 1981 before the pact's 2007 expiration. FOTA amendments to the FIA's proposed 2010 rules would delay imposition of a 40 million pound optional budget cap FIA president Max Mosley wants to bring down the sport's spending. Mosley wants a cap in part to attract new teams. Mosley for the past year has called the sport's spending rate "unsustainable." Formula One is the world's most expensive sport staged annually. New teams find start-up expense out of reach. Established teams, especially big-spending teams like Ferrari and Toyota, find scaling down to Mosley's budget cap just as difficult.
The FOTA statement read:
"FOTA confirms all its members' long-term commitment to be involved in the FIA Formula One World Championship and has unanimously agreed further and significant actions to substantially reduce the costs of competing in the championship in the next three years, creating a mechanism that will preserve the technological competition and the sporting challenge and, at the same time, facilitate the entry in the F1 championship for new teams. These measures are in line with what has been already decided in 2009 within FOTA, achieving important savings on engines and gearboxes."
The sign-up is a climb down for Ferrari, which threatened not to compete next year.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, FOTA chairman, had been vocal in asserting Ferrari, the only team to have contested every F1 season to date and the jewel of the sport, would not race if proposed 2010 regulations were not amended.
Mosley, too, ceded after initially insisting the FIA would not compromise.
Friday's sign-up does not resolve the struggle for a final version of the 2010 rules. Mosley at first sought to impose a 30 million pound budget cap that although optional would have given compliant teams greater leeway in meeting technical regulations. That figure was amended to 40 million ($64.6 million). FOTA wants a spending cut to be implemented in a more gradual fashion. The FIA wants to publish the entry list by June 12, at which time a financial agreement needs to be in order. Current thinking puts a 2010 spending cap at 80 million to 100 million pounds with the 40 million figure adopted for 2011.
FOTA teams joined newcomers Campos Racing and USF1. Spanish Formula Three campaigner Campos was first to submit an entry when the window opened Monday. Charlotte, N.C. based USF1 reiterated its intention to compete next year. Other entry filers included Prodrive, Litespeed GP and Lola, bringing the total entries to 15 teams or 30 cars. The FIA is seeking 26-car fields for next year's grids.
Sports car builder Lola Racing bills itself as the largest-selling customer race car supplier in the world. The company's closest association with F1 was the Haas Lola team that entered the 1985 and 1986 championships. That team was founded by Carl Haas and Teddy Mayer and was not a Lola factory-backed team.
Litespeed is an English Formula Three team whose principal, Nino Judge, worked in F1 as an engineer. BBC Sport reported Litespeed will work with the Mike Gascoyne-led MGI Ltd. Gascoyne worked for a half-dozen F1 teams, including as technical director for Jordan, Renault and Toyota.
Prodrive is headed by David Richards, who replaced current Renault team principal at Benetton in 1997 and guided BAR Honda to second in the 2004 FIA Constructors' Championship. Richards bought Aston Martin from Ford in 2007 and with backing by Kuwait's investment bank, Dar Capital, is expected to give the marque its first F1 team.
Aston Martin originally hired Jim Clark to drive for its F1 team in 1960 but a car was never sorted and the team was scrapped, leaving the Scotsman, then driving F2 cars for Team Lotus, free to step into Lotus F1 cars. Clark, of course, went on to win two world championships for Team Lotus.