F1

FIA lawsuit follows FOTA pull-out

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Reactions roll in following Thursday's late-night announcement by Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) that eight of 10 current Formula One teams will form a racing series in 2010 separate from the F1 currently governed by the International ...

Reactions roll in following Thursday's late-night announcement by Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) that eight of 10 current Formula One teams will form a racing series in 2010 separate from the F1 currently governed by the International Automobile Federation (FIA).

The FIA anounced it will sue lead defector Ferrari and the team owners' group.

The FIA announced publication of a 2010 entry list will be delayed. A week ago, the FIA had 13 teams listed; now it's five.

A second F1 aspirant, MSC Organization Ltd. withdrew its entry from the FIA. The team that sought to field cars as Team N. Technology followed Lola in announcing it will give a miss to the FIA's parade.

Crux of the matter is how to go about lowering expenses in the world's costliest annually staged sporting event. FIA president Max Mosley sought to impose an optional budget cap for 2010 of first 30 million pounds then 40 million pounds to attract new teams. Teams choosing the cap would be allowed greater technical freedoms.

FOTA, which included all 10 current teams but slimmed to eight teams when Williams F1 and Force India chose to honor existing contracts with the FIA, cried foul about the sudden reduction, the rules advantages low-spenders would gain, and their lack of input into rules changes. They met they 2010 entry deadline on condition that the FIA would change the optional budget limit and produce a new Concorde Agreement, a document that lets all paricipants have a say in F1 governance. The previous pact expired at the end of 2007.

"The FIA's lawyers have now examined the FOTA (Formula One Teams Association) threat to begin a breakaway series," read an FIA statement issued at Silverstone, site of this weekend's British Grand Prix.

"The actions of FOTA as a whole, and Ferrari in particular, amount to serious violations of law including willful interference with contractual relations, direct breaches of Ferrari's legal obligations, and a grave violation of competition law.

"The FIA will be issuing legal proceedings without delay."

Ferrari, whose president Luca di Montezemolo is chairman of FOTA, has been particularly vocal in objecting to FIA 2010 rules. Ferrari and Dieter Mateschitz's teams Red Bull and Toro Rosso contracted to participate in F1 through 2012, which is the basis of Mosley's action. The FIA put Ferrari and the Red Bull teams on next year's entry list published a week ago and told Toyota, Renault, McLaren Mercedes, Brawn GP and BMW Sauber they were subject to being dropped unless they gave up their conditions. Ferrari and the Red Bull teams reacted quickly to insist they retained a conditional approach to participation, that condition being that Mosley change the rules. Mosley sought to persuade all teams to sign on unconditionally before rules amendments would progress.

Ferrari would not respond to news of the FIA suit but reiterated that on Monday the scuderia "instigated arbitration against the FIA to protect its contractual rights in its dealings with the Federation, including those relative to the respecting of procedures as regards the adoption of regulations and the right to veto." Ferrari's contract with the FIA stipulated input to rules-making.

Mosley had targeted fielding 13 teams in the world's premier motorsport series next season. The FIA received 15 applications, vetted 12 teams, interviewed representatives of nine and chose three: Campos, Manor and Team USF1.

Mosley has said the FIA could field a series without FOTA defectors. He expressed confidence Friday that a compromise would be reached and one series, including Ferrari, will prevail.

"Always for these things in the end there's a compromise," Mosley told BBC Radio. "We will be reluctant to have an F1 without them, the eight."

Then he reiterated his contention that as many as three carmaker teams could yet drop the sport in the face of global recession.

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