After all the brinkmanship, the tough talking and the threats, the Formula 1 teams should today, barring any last minute upset, submit entries by midnight for the 2010 world championship. Ferrari will still be a Formula 1 team and life will carry on.
A statement is expected today from the Formula One Teams Association with their position ahead of the deadline, although team sources could not confirm at what time this might be published. Intriguingly, it has been suggested to me, however, that this statement will not be along the lines of what has been speculated in the media since Wednesday’s FOTA meeting in London.
The general gist of what has been written is that FOTA is proposing a phased reduction in costs with a limit somewhere below £100 million for next year dropping to the £40 million Max Mosley wants in 2011. The concession by FOTA is that the established teams will go out of their way to help the new teams Mosley is so keen to attract, by leasing them engines and gearboxes at below £5 million and giving them extensive chassis support. This will enable the new teams to compete at a sensible level – not be six seconds off the pace in other words – but will stop short of customer cars, which teams like Williams will not tolerate.
FOTA wants to exclude driver salaries, engine costs, dividends and marketing spend from the budget cap and there appears to also be some sort of exemption proposed for big salary outside subcontractors like Red Bull’s Adrian Newey. I look forward to hearing how that might work.
All eyes will be on Cologne this afternoon to see whether Toyota submits an entry. Rumours were rife in Monaco that the team would use this opportunity to make its exit from the sport. It’s not hard to see why they might do that, having failed to make much impression in the era of unlimited budgets, they are not likely to rise to the top when efficiency is the name of the game. But Toyota F1 boss John Howett said earlier this week that stories of Toyota pulling out were mere ‘spin’.
Meanwhile Williams CEO Adam Parr has spoken about the team’s decision to act independently of FOTA and submit an entry for next year. He denied that Williams’ move was to undermine FOTA’s unity. He said, “We are not trying to split the teams. We are not even trying to dissuade them.
“As a team we have a certain philosophy and this is an inevitable and necessary development. It may well be that other teams have a different view. I completely respect that.
“We feel there is a huge chance to resolve this and very much hope that all the existing teams, plus one or two new ones, will be on the grid with us next year.”
Of those possible new teams, US F1 and Campos have already entered, while Prodrive and Lola have made positive noises. My understanding is that you have to have an engine contract in place before you can submit an entry.