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Game Over? FOTA Announces Formation of Breakaway "Formula One" Championship
By MAC MORRISON
In a stunning development Thursday night to the ongoing dispute between the FIA and the Formula One Teams Association, FOTA announced via a statement that it plans to leave the official Formula One World Championship in favor of establishing its own breakaway series beginning next year.
The established F1 teams have been waging a well-documented battle with the sport's governing body over future technical regulations and the FIA's push to introduce a budget cap beginning in 2010. After meeting Thursday at Renault F1's factory in the U.K., FOTA's eight members--Ferrari, BMW Sauber, Renault, McLaren-Mercedes, Brawn GP, Toyota, Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso--determined that they have had enough of FIA president Max Mosley and F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone.
The announcement comes ahead of the Friday deadline set by Mosley for the established teams to agree to unconditional entries for next year's championship; FOTA teams entered the championship last week, but on a conditional basis. They had asked that the 2009 rules remain in place and that a new Concorde Agreement--the sport's governing document--be signed in order to guarantee their participation. Mosley wrote to the teams on Wednesday and made an overture toward a compromise agreement that would have seen the budget cap remain in place, though he asked the teams to enter F1 in 2010 with an eye toward drafting a new set of regulations moving forward. Thursday's news appears, on the surface, to be a metaphorical middle finger wagged at the sport's honchos.
Of course, things are seldom straightforward in the rarified F1 world, and it might turn out that this move by FOTA eventually goes down as nothing more than an exercise of leverage by a united manufacturer front. Either way, this weekend's British Grand Prix is set to become nothing more than a backdrop to what could be the most colossal upheaval in F1--and perhaps racing--history.
FOTA'S FULL STATEMENT:
Since the formation of FOTA last September the teams have worked together and sought to engage the FIA and commercial rights holder, to develop and improve the sport.
Unprecedented worldwide financial turmoil has inevitably placed great challenges before the F1 community. FOTA is proud that it has achieved the most substantial measures to reduce costs in the history of our sport.
In particular the manufacturer teams have provided assistance to the independent teams, a number of which would probably not be in the sport today without the FOTA initiatives. The FOTA teams have further agreed upon a substantial voluntary cost reduction that provides a sustainable model for the future.
Following these efforts all the teams have confirmed to the FIA and the commercial rights holder that they are willing to commit until the end of 2012.
The FIA and the commercial rights holder have campaigned to divide FOTA.
The wishes of the majority of the teams are ignored. Furthermore, tens of millions of dollars have been withheld from many teams by the commercial rights holder, going back as far as 2006. Despite this and the uncompromising environment, FOTA has genuinely sought compromise.
It has become clear however, that the teams cannot continue to compromise on the fundamental values of the sport and have declined to alter their original conditional entries to the 2010 World Championship.
These teams therefore have no alternative other than to commence the preparation for a new Championship which reflects the values of its participants and partners. This series will have transparent governance, one set of regulations, encourage more entrants and listen to the wishes of the fans, including offering lower prices for spectators worldwide, partners and other important stakeholders.
The major drivers, stars, brands, sponsors, promoters and companies historically associated with the highest level of motorsport will all feature in this new series.
Note: Statement issued by FOTA on behalf of BMW-Sauber, Brawn GP, Scuderia Ferrari, McLaren-Mercedes, Red Bull Racing, Renault, Scuderia Toro Rosso and Toyota.
Read more: http://www.autoweek.c...
New York, NY
A sad situation, indeed. Too many egos at work. Those of you interested can check out some of my thoughts on the situation here: