Formula One remained poised on the brink last night after crunch talks between Max Mosley, Bernie Ecclestone and the teams failed to resolve issues arising from the governing body's insistence on a £40m voluntary budget cap in 2010.
The meeting, at Heathrow, was compromised when Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, also the president of the Formula One Teams Association and one of the prime protagonists against Mosley, was unable to attend due to the death of his father. He was represented by Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal.
It also transpired that Ferrari have applied to a French court for an injunction against the proposed changes in Formula One, which they claim breach their right of technical veto, and the closure of entries to the 2010 championship by the end of May. "During the meeting it became apparent that Ferrari have made an application to the French courts, and I don't know the details, but it is to apply for an injunction to stop us doing what we want to do," Mosley admitted.
Earlier this week the Italian team, the heavyweight of the sport and the only one to have contested every world championship since 1950, allied with Toyota, Red Bull and Renault in threatening to withdraw at the end of this season unless fundamental revisions are made to the new regulations.
The teams are opposed to a two-tier system in which those who sign up to the voluntary budget cap will be allowed to run a superior technical package which would include a more powerful engine and more efficient aerodynamics. They are also seeking revisions in the governance of the sport as they are becoming increasingly frustrated by Mosley's dictatorial modus operandi.
By the end of the meeting no solution was agreed, and as the teams left for another meeting to discuss alternatives, Mosley insisted that unless they could think of anything else the budget cap would go ahead.
"It was quite a friendly meeting," he said afterwards, "but in the end all that happened was that the teams have gone off to see if they can come up with something better than the cost cap.
"We explained we cannot put back the entry date, as this has all been published, and we cannot disadvantage the potential new teams who will come in. But we are prepared to listen to whatever they have to say.
"In the meantime, the regulations are as published. We have explained that we want everyone to race under the same regulations. We have explained that we would like all of the teams to come in under the cost cap and that is what they have gone off to consider.
"It would mean a gradual relaxation of the technical regulations – which all the engineers would want. We said in the end the choice was between intellectual freedom and financial constraint, or intellectual constraint and financial freedom – which is what they have had up until now.
"We have pointed out, and it is something the engineers have said, that current F1 consists of endless refinement at enormous expense and we want to move away from that and have invention and creativity, but we can only do that if we restrict the cost – because if we have unrestricted cost nobody would be able to afford it."
Ferrari versus F1: The story so far
*30 April 09
FIA president Max Mosley announces introduction of £40m budget cap from 2010. Teams who do not comply will face penalties.
Ferrari's Luca di Montezemolo says budget cap "unfair".
May Toyota threaten to pull out of F1, Ferrari follow suit the next day.
Renault join list of teams stating they will pull out of F1 if the budget cap goes through.
F1 teams meet Max Mosley. FIA maintains stance. Ferrari apply to French court for an injunction.