The war between the FIA and the 10 Formula One teams neared crisis point in Monaco yesterday when the Formula One Teams Association made it clear, after repeated failure to agree terms with the governing body, that they are no longer prepared to accept the current governance of the sport.
The teams met aboard Renault principal Flavio Briatore's yacht in the harbour ahead of a lengthy meeting with FIA president Max Mosley in which they sought to hammer out a solution to the impasse over Mosley's insistence on a $60m voluntary budget cap for 2010.
Most acknowledge the need to restrict budgets, but many are opposed to a two-tier system under which teams who sign up to a budget cap are granted a superior technical package. Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was present at the meetings, having missed the last FOTA/FIA meeting in London due to the death of his father. He is at loggerheads with the FIA after a Parisian court last Wednesday rejected Ferrari's bid to invoke a technical veto to stop Mosley going ahead, and because Mosley said that F1 could survive without its longest-serving team.
"Formula One would not be the same without Ferrari," Di Montezemolo told Gazzetta dello Sport, "but no team is indispensable." After the initial meeting, he said: "We will not enter in the championship with these rules and this governance. So we have to discuss about the possibility to change the situation. We want Formula One, not something different."
The scene may now be set for the teams to consider the breakaway championship that was mooted back in 2005, but Di Montezemolo was cautious. "We will see," he said.
After the meeting with Mosley, Di Montezemolo added late last night: "It was a long and constructive meeting. FOTA will have another meeting tomorrow, and then there will be another meeting with Mosley."
Mosley said: "Most of the teams understand that we cannot continue to spend at current levels. It was a good, constructive meeting. I am hopeful there will be an agreement."