Today the FIA finally published a list with the accepted entries for the 2010 Formula One season. Williams and Force India, who both had admitted an unconditional entry, are on the list and the FIA has put Ferrari, Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso on the list of accepted entries as well. The remaining five FOTA members, BMW-Sauber, Brawn-Mercedes, McLaren-Mercedes, Renault and Toyota are on the list with the remark 'provisional' added to their name.
So far, no surprises, but the big surprise was of course the selection of the new teams, Campos Grand Prix, Manor Grand Prix and Team US F1. We will come to that later.
Ferrari, Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso have made it clear their application was conditional, yesterday they confirmed this once again. The FIA however, says their application is not conditional. The FIA insists these teams have contracts with either the FOM or FIA organization to race beyond 2009, and therefore are obliged to race in 2010, regardless of the rules, and that is why they are on the list of accepted entrants.
Williams has said they are 'pleased' with their 2010 entry, Red Bull and Toro Rosso have said they still support the FOTA demands and insist their entry is still conditional on the FOTA demands being met. The FOTA has confirmed their entries are based on conditions that still have to be met, and has asked for the help of the World Motorsports Council to resolve the current standoff between FOTA and FIA.
Prodrive and Lola stated they were disappointed by the FIA decision, but are still hoping they can enter Formula One, in case one of the FOTA members decides to quit the sport.
The new teams
The FIA has stated that the selection of the new teams was the result of a 'due diligence process', meaning the FIA has looked at their funding, technical capabilities, key staff, designers and business plans. There was a list of fifteen applicants, and much to the delight of the FIA, there were "a surprising number of well-presented entries, with substantial funds behind them". The FIA believes this also proves that the recent lack of new Formula One entrants was caused by the excessive costs to run a Formula One team.
Team US F1
The dream of many North-American Formula One fans has come through: from 2010 there will be an all American Formula One team. USF1 was founded by Ken Anderson, who will be the team principal, and motorsport journalist Peter Windsor, who has experience as a team manager for Ferrari and Williams. They will also use the Cosworth engine and will have their base in the Charlotte area. And now we of course want to know who will be the drivers...
Campos Grand Prix
Campos Grand Prix was founded by former Formula One driver Adrian Campos, who ran the successful Campos GP2 team before selling it in 2008. Dallara will build the F1 chassis and Cosworth will supply the engines. Adrian Campos will lead the team together with Jose Ramon Carabante, and will have its technical centre and headquarters in Valencia.
Manor Grand Prix
This is the real surprise of today: Manor is a new name on the list, completely out of the blue. Manor GP was formed by British F3 and Formula Renault outfit Manor Motorsport and Nick Wirth's WRL engineering company. Team principal John Booth will work together with technical director Nick Wirth. Wirth has worked for the March and Leyton House Formula One teams, founded the Simtek F1 team in 1994, and worked for Benetton as a designer from 1996 to 1999. Again, Cosworth will be the engine of their choice.
But why didn't the FIA select teams like Prodrive/Aston Martin, Lola, iSpeed or Epsilon Euskadi? They have excellent credentials, they are very successful in other branches of motorsport,, they have the right staff and designers, and plenty of financial backing. One could even say they would have been a better choice than the three teams the FIA has now selected.
I think it is no secret that Max Mosley doesn't like the presence of car manufacturers in Formula One, notwithstanding the fact those manufacturers were willing and able to spend a lot of money on Formula One, in times when privateers couldn't do so. He thinks they are only in Formula One to boost their car sales, and are not interested in the sport itself, and will leave Formula One once they have secured a world title.
Since the foundation of the FOTA organization last year, Mr Mosley has put the 'issue' of the manufacturer teams on top of his bucket list again. The FOTA has now become a new player in the world of Formula One, and a very powerful player and a force to be reckoned with. In reality, Mr Mosley doesn't like the power the FOTA has, and seems to think the FOTA only wants to undermine his authority as president of the FIA.
Putting Ferrari and both Red Bull teams as 'confirmed' on the list, could be another attempt to silence Ferrari, as due to their now 'confirmed' entry they cannot participate in the discussion between the FIA and the remaining members of the FOTA, and "divide and rule" is again the name of the game.
The above-mentioned teams who were not selected by the FIA are well organized, have plenty of financial backing, and also plenty of experience in racing politics. Could it be that Mr Mosley doesn't want these team in Formula One because he is afraid they will also become a force to be reckoned with, like the FOTA teams? Once admitted to F1, these teams could join the FOTA, and support future demands made by the FOTA. In Mr Mosley's eyes, this would weaken his position even more, and that is the last thing he wants.
Mr Mosley also hinted he would like to do another tour of duty for the FIA, and therefore wants keep full control of 'his' organization. But if Mosley doesn't succeed in keeping the rebel FOTA teams on board the barely floating Formula One ship, it could well be that the FIA members will give their vote to another candidate in October when a new FIA president is elected. And in that case Mr Mosley doesn't have to worry about manufacturers, cost caps and politics anymore, he can just stay home and watch a Formula One race comfortably from his Monaco apartment.
For now, the FIA and the FOTA, could with the help of the WMSC, still find a solution for the current standoff. They still have a week to do so, there is still hope, the FOTA has said on numerous occasions that all they really want is to compete in Formula One, they just want to discuss the terms with the FIA. But if Mr Mosley keeps his foot down and refuses to negotiate with the FOTA, it will never happen.