Ecclestone to focus on placating Ferrari

Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone will attend a crucial meeting with the Formula One Teams' Association in London today to thrash out objections to Mosley's proposed two-tier category for Formula One next year.

This week, Ferrari, the sport's most influential team, joined with Toyota, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Renault in condemning Mosley's idea. Ferrari and Renault threatened to quit if the FIA president does not reconsider rules which will technically favour teams which sign up to a $60m (£39.5m) budget cap. Time is running out in the lead-up to closure of entries later this month for the 2010 world championship. The reaction from Renault, Toyota and entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz's two Red Bull teams are serious enough, but it is Ferrari's that has sounded all the alarm bells.

"The key to F1 is Ferrari," Ecclestone said. "They have been there for 60 years. They are partners of ours. They are the people we need to take into consideration. At the moment everyone is hanging on to their apron strings. Sort that out and we will be okay."

BMW-Sauber will take their decision after today's meeting, but Norbert Haug, the motorsport director of McLaren's partner Mercedes-Benz, said: "We will try to help to find a solution. All the teams are agreed that there cannot be two regulations in one series. Withdrawal is not a topic at Mercedes."

Renault's chief executive Flavio Briatore has dismissed the possibility of a breakaway championship, which was once mooted, and said: "I must be clear that we, Ferrari and the others have no intention of breaking with FIA. We want to be there, to participate, to preserve the future. We are proposing logical conditions to Mosley. I want to make it clear that the teams are Formula One, the international federation should simply be the referee."

Meanwhile, drivers Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen have endorsed Ferrari's threat, even though it could significantly affect their careers. "For a driver, racing a Ferrari in Formula One is a dream and I made mine come true," Massa said. "Since I was a child Ferrari has been the synonym for racing for me; that's why I'm convinced that even if the Scuderia is forced to leave Formula One, there will be other competitions."

Raikkonen said: "It's difficult to think of Formula One without Ferrari. When I drove for McLaren, the Scuderia from Maranello was the benchmark, the competitor you had to be compared with. Since I arrived here I understood it is much more than just a team."

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