The war between FIA president Max Mosley and FOTA, the association of Formula One teams, has been a long time coming and the current impasse can only be damaging for the sport.
Although FOTA has made some serious inroads into cost-cutting, Mosley, some would say, has continually belittled its efforts while taking credit for reductions in spending thus far this season.
It has always been his style to operate a dictatorship, partly due to his little-disguised disdain for many of the team principals. But where commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone has operated a benign dictatorship – which fundamentally has the sport's best interests at heart even if his own are also well catered for – Mosley has often been accused of being intransigent for the sake of it.
It is deeply ironic that Mosley's principal enemy is Luca di Montezemolo (pictured), the charismatic chief of Ferrari, for the Scuderia was once seen as the FIA's favoured team. Now, however, the two heavyweights are at loggerheads as the vexed question of cost reduction continues to prove a stumbling block.
Nobody in the paddock seriously believes that uncontrolled spending can continue, however, for these are very different times and the sport has to move with them or risk becoming the sort of conspicuous consumption that might attract those motivated to bring about its demise. But it is the manner and timing of reductions that are proving problematic. There is no way that Toyota, for example, are going to drop from spending $400m a year to $60m in one hit. That is simply not feasible. But it is what Mosley is effectively suggesting.
In standing his ground yesterday, he is indulging in another act of deliberate brinkmanship. By leaving things as they are he puts the teams in an invidious situation where the closing date for the 2010 championship is looming fast, thus putting them on their mettle to fulfil the threats made earlier this week by Ferrari, Toyota, Red Bull and Renault to withdraw for 2010 if their demands are not met.
Or to back down.
But he runs the risk of the powder keg exploding in his face if Ferrari really were to quit.
It remains to be seen whether the same penchant for pushing a dangerous situation to the verge of disaster that he brought to his fight over the sex orgy scandal last year can be made to work again for him this time around.Reuse content