FIA and FOTA still in standoff

'No compromise,' Mosley says

Nothing settled, nothing changed, was the report from a Heathrow airport hotel outside London on Friday where International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Max Mosley and the sport's commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone met with Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) representatives to work on their impasse over money.

Mosley said the FIA will not compromise.

Max Mosley, FIA President.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Mosley told reporters he has invited the teams to present a countering notion to the FIA's budget scheme that would limit team spending in certain areas but allow them wider use of wind tunnels and other technical development means. The FIA first set the figure at 30 million pounds then raised it to 40 million, nearly $60 million per team per year. Ecclestone, who had been quoted as suggesting the figure could go to 60 million pounds before the wrangle ends, said all sides agreed on a budget cap -- were happy with one even. How much is the sticking point. "No idea," he said, when asked for a figure.

"We've had an interesting meeting, an exchange of views, but nothing has come out of it," Mosley said.

He said team principals had gone off perhaps to consider a counterproposal.

With Ferrari leading the way, teams including Red Bull, Renault and Toyota decreed they will not participate in next year's championship if that spending ceiling remains. Ferrari, the only team to have competed every year of the FIA World Championship, which when begun in 1950 covered only drivers but since 1959 has included a constructors championship, has been allowed exceptional status in the sport. Ferrari already receives more revenues than other teams from commercial endeavors such as television rights.

Mosley said Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo is seeking an injunction in a French court to keep the FIA from carrying out these rules decisions. Regulations adopted by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council allow teams to follow a budget voluntarily.

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali told BBC Radio the teams are united. "We have a very united set of teams about the regulations," Domenicali said. He added when asked about Di Montezemolo, whose father has just died, seeking an injunction, "There's nothing new on that. That's the outcome from the Ferrari board. The president has a mandate from the board to protect the rights of Ferrari."

A spending cap doesn't cover driver salaries, engines or marketing.

Flavio Briatore, Renault F1 Team, Team Chief, Managing Director.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Renault this week was the most recent team to call foul over the 2010 rules, claiming the FIA had introduced two sets of regulations. (One set of regulations is in place, but teams choosing budget restrictions have greater technical range to meet those regulations.) Team principal Flavio Briatore said the unilateral adoption by the FIA presents a major problem for teams who want the same cost limits but who propose arriving at the figures by a different route.

FOTA formed last year as team principals saw the future and scrambled to protect their interests. They agreed by the end of the year to cost reductions and a scheme to lower costs between 2009 and 2012. The FIA version took a faster means to those reductions.

The regulations pit teams against one another. Small, independent teams want a budget cap. Big -- and big-spending -- teams spend more freely. With global car sales tanking, some teams have checked the serious profligacy. The one team whose parent company, FIAT, has not suffered in the worldwide recession is Ferrari, whose sales are in the pink. The Italian team has been reported as the consistent big spender in F1, pouring out as much as an estimated half-billion dollars a year in recent times. Toyota's bill for the sport is quoted in billions since the Japanese carmaker-backed team joined F1 in 2002, so far without winning a race.

A budget cap is seen as the sport's best hope for welcoming new teams. At least four prospective new entrants, including Lola and perhaps Penske, could have signed up for 2010 entry when the window closes May 29 -- although Mosley hinted that deadline could be extended. If the FIA has to raise the spending level to appease dissident existing teams, potential teams might reconsider. A team statement from Lola called the budget cap "prudent, considering the backdrop of global economics."