Williams, that most pragmatic of all Formula One teams, yesterday became the first to make an official entry to the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship, ahead of the closing date this Friday.
The move comes after a weekend of endless meetings in Monaco between the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA), the FIA and Formula One Management (FOM) in the quest for an acceptable compromise regarding the FIA president Max Mosley's insistence on introducing a voluntary budget cap of $40m (£25m) next year and two tiers of technology. FOTA members insisted they were united in their efforts to have Mosley's 2010 regulations either changed or deferred until 2011, but it now remains to be seen what effect Williams' move has.
"The unity of FOTA is of paramount importance to Williams," said Adam Parr, Williams' CEO. "Yesterday we joined the other members in writing to the FIA to request a continuing effort to find a compromise concerning the regulations for 2010.
The FOTA informed Mosley that it would commit to racing until 2012, and sign a new Concorde Agreement, provided he defers the regulations for 2010, which include not only the budget cap but also a ban on refuelling, until 2011.
"We believe that FOTA has extracted some very significant concessions from the FIA," Parr continued. "These include not only the procedural aspects of the budget cap but also other elements that will enable the higher budget teams to participate. Having said that, Williams have always maintained that we have a binding contract with both FOM and the FIA to participate in the world championship from 2008 to 2010.
"We have been paid in full for our participation and we feel both morally and legally obliged to make it clear that we will participate in Formula One in the future. We owe this to our employees, our sponsors and the fans, all of whom are affected by statements that the teams may not enter next year's championship.
The FOTA will have yet another meeting this week, ahead of the closure of entries on Friday, to discuss its strategy further.