FIA respond to FOTA walk-out

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The Independent Online

The FIA has today suggested the latest threat to the future of Formula One could be over "in the coming days".

Issuing a statement entitled 'Setting The Record Straight', motor sport's world governing body has responded in kind to FOTA's claim from yesterday that F1 was again "in jeopardy".

Representatives of the eight FOTA members walked out of a meeting at the Nurburgring with FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting, placing on the line the agreed peace deal of a fortnight ago.

FOTA made it clear they were appalled when they were informed they had no voting rights with regard to the framing of the sporting and technical regulations for next season.

That was despite the fact they were listed as entered for 2010 by the FIA after a gentleman's agreement brokered between president Max Mosley, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and FOTA chairman Luca di Montezemolo in Paris on June 24 which culminated in the scrapping of the £40million budget cap.

However, in the latest round of politicking that will only further anger the fans who just want to see the best cars on the grid with the world's best drivers at the wheel, the FIA has chastised FOTA.

The FIA confirms Mosley twice wrote to Di Montezemolo prior to yesterday's meeting reminding him the five teams who had entered under the budget cap rules had to unanimously agree the revised regulations.

The statement added: "This is because of the International Sporting Code, and also because the entered teams have a contract with the FIA not even the General Assembly or World Council can abrogate.

"Anyone with an elementary knowledge of motor sport governance knows this.

"Imagine the uproar if, after the FOTA teams had entered, the World Council were subsequently to change the rules without asking them.

"It follows the agreement of the five teams currently entered in the 2010 world championship to all 2010 rule changes is required.

"To suggest FOTA were only made aware of this during the meetings of yesterday is quite simply untrue.

"So is the implicit claim they were all unaware of one of motor sport's basic principles."

The FIA further state that, despite FOTA's walk-out, the other five teams - Williams, Force India and the three new entrants, US F1, Campos Meta and Manor Grand Prix - did agree to the changes.

The stumbling block, as far as the Federation is concerned, relates to the signing of a new Concorde Agreement, a confidential document that governs the commercial side of the sport.

"It has always been the FIA's understanding the FOTA teams wanted a Concorde Agreement in place before entering the 2010 championship," related the statement.

"Once entered, the FOTA teams could no longer threaten a breakaway because of the contractual position."

It is very much a chicken and egg situation over what is agreed first - the new regulations or the new Concorde Agreement - as both are intrinsically linked.

The statement said: "The basis for the FIA agreeing to drop plans for a cost cap was the proposal prepared by the Williams team over the Silverstone weekend which would allow an agreed reduction of expenditure to the level of the early 1990s by the end of 2011 to be dealt with by the teams themselves.

"This reduction was agreed by FOTA and confirmed by them in Paris on 24 June. This would be a private, legally-enforceable contract involving all the teams, but not the FIA.

"The FIA confirmed in Paris that once this agreement is in place, the cost-cap provisions can be removed from the 2010 sporting regulations."

However, far from a new Concorde Agreement being based on the 1998 version with a few amendments, the FIA were instead presented with a new 350-page version their lawyers have spent the last few weeks sifting through.

"At present it seems probable a final draft of the 2009 Concorde Agreement will be agreed and ready for signature in the coming days," concluded the statement.

If that is the case, and all parties sign up, the latest breakaway threat will be averted and F1 will be back on track for next year.

However, in light of events of the past few weeks, and especially the last 24 hours, few will bet good money on that happening.