FIA and FOTA continue dispute

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The Independent Online

The FIA and the Formula One Teams' Association have just three days to resolve their differences otherwise a breakaway series will move a step closer to fruition.

That would appear to be the path we are heading towards in the wake of a damning statement yesterday from motor sport's world governing body as they lay the blame for the recent impasse squarely on FOTA.

Five teams - McLaren, Renault, Toyota, BMW Sauber and Brawn GP - have until close of business on Friday to sign up unconditionally to the £40million budget cap for next season otherwise the FIA will enrol new entrants.

As for Ferrari, Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso, a potential legal battle looms with the FIA as they were entered against their will due to contractual obligations, yet they remain aligned with FOTA.

It is an unholy mess, one that shows no sign of being resolved by Friday evening, and certainly not after the FIA's accusations.

After claiming on Monday there were factions within FOTA determined to scupper hope of a resolution, the FIA yesterday accused the body of trying to take control of the regulations and commercial rights.

"The FIA and FOM (Formula One Management) have together spent decades building the FIA Formula One World Championship into the most watched motor sport competition in history," claimed the FIA.

"In light of the success of the FIA's Championship, FOTA - made up of participants who come and go as it suits them - has set itself two clear objectives: to take over the regulation of Formula One from the FIA, and to expropriate the commercial rights for itself.

"These are not objectives which the FIA can accept."

The FIA maintain they are determined to "ensure that Formula One is the most technologically challenging motor sport - and it will be financial restrictions that make this possible."

In their statement the FIA proceeded to attack recent assertions by FOTA regarding the sport's governance, the new regulations and the prospect of a two-tier championship.

With regard to the latter, the FIA now insist there will only be one set of rules, and have suggested that without FOTA pressure, the situation might have been different.

"What is interesting is that for several of the existing teams, the idea of greater technical freedom with financial constraints was very attractive," added the FIA.

"Left to their own devices, at least half the existing teams would have adopted those rules."

Of key concern to FOTA has been how the Federation plan to police the cap, citing intrusiveness into their business.

The books will apparently be self-verified by the team's auditors, and as the FIA point out: "If there is no intention to cheat, regulation should not present a threat.

"The FIA already regulates every aspect of technical performance and deals with vast amounts of confidential proprietary technical information without partiality or 'interference'."

With the technical and financial changes the FIA are to implement, they claim Formula One "would wither and die," and that it would "lose its teams".

FOTA last night refused to officially respond, although as one source remarked: "This is being viewed as a panic measure by the FIA."

The time for panic might be on Friday when Formula One loses the names that are part of its rich history.