Posted on May 10, 2009
Toyota threaten not to enter in 2010 | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

The latest development in the stand-off over the budget cap and new regulations for 2010 is that Toyota’s John Howett has told the Italian media that if the conditions for competing in 2010 do not change, then “Toyota will not sign up for the world championship.”

Howett went on to say that the company was evaluating a return to Le Mans 24 hours among other possible alternatives.

Howett is the number two in FOTA, the team’s organisation. He is vice-president working underneath Ferrari’s Luca di Montezemolo. It would appear that Howett is articulating what all the other manufacturers are thinking. Is is also dangerous because it gives Toyota and other manufacturers the option, should they wish to take it, of leaving the sport and blaming these new rules.

They are certainly weighing up the possibility of a block move to not enter the 2010 championship. I can’t see how they could possibly take McLaren, Williams and Brawn with them on that, however.

Things are coming to a head very quickly and a meeting has been organised between Montezemolo and FIA president Max Mosley for this week. Things need calming down and it appears that Bernie Ecclestone has been extremely proactive this weekend, working the motorhomes, looking for a compromise. The manufacturers are united, but it is difficult for them to pull all the independent teams with them, many of whom depend on the budget cap for survival.

Ferrari are vehemently opposed to the budget cap concept. FIA president Max Mosley said last weekend that Formula 1 could survive without Ferrari, but not too many people in the sport agree with that view, including Bernie Ecclestone. And Ferrari do have ‘special rights’, as Montezemolo alluded to in his letter to Mosley of 28th April. We may be about to find out how they might be exercised.

Basically what Montezemolo was referring to is that Ferrari has a say in the rule making process until 2012. This is why the FIA rules for 2010 contain a ‘second tier’ alongside the budget cap, allowing teams like Ferrari, should they wish to, to run the same rules as currently.

The problem, as Patrick Head said this weekend, is that the budget capped teams cars would be faster because of the technical freedoms they would enjoy. This must be a key area of negotiation.

There was a team principals’ meeting on the situation today and negotiations are set to continue with Mosley this week and next. It is not in anyone’s interest for this to get legal, it could cause huge damage and would delay planning for next year which would cause chaos. It needs to be sorted out between principals.

One thing is for sure, Ferrari will not do what they did in 2005, when they caved in and signed up with Ecclestone and Mosley, thereby ending the threatened GPMA manufacturer breakaway series.

If the teams can come up quickly with a serious proposal for cutting costs down to a sustainable level in the next few weeks, it will be interesting to see how the FIA reacts.

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Toyota threaten not to enter in 2010
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  1.   1. Posted By: Peter
        Date: May 10th, 2009 @ 11:11 am 

    I was supprised at your comment that this should not get legal.
    Is one of the main problems that it all happens behind closed doors? i apreciate that people would get hurt in a courtroom but it would bring it all out into the open.

    Peter

    P.S. great blog!

    [Reply]


  2.   2. Posted By: MartinWR
        Date: May 10th, 2009 @ 12:03 pm 

    F1 is headed for an almighty first-lap style coming-together, because a minority still insist on prevailing through sheer financial muscle. They are the one and only reason that the ridiculous and unfair two tier rules are being proposed.
    Teams don’t like a two tier championship? Well we have had a de facto two tier championship for years in which division one teams outspend division two teams by a factor of as much as five to one. That has been born out in race results, and it’s about time that things changed.
    So far this season things have been a bit different, and consequently more interesting, but already the old order shows signs of reasserting itself. Remember the boredom of the Schumy years?

    [Reply]


  3.   3. Posted By: Pete
        Date: May 10th, 2009 @ 1:51 pm 

    Hi James

    I was wondering, is there any possibility of a breakaway manufacturer championship happening this time, like in 2005?

    Is there any idea of what Ferrari/BMW consider an acceptable budget cap? Or do they want to run without any budget restrictions?

    Great blog as well

    [Reply]


  4.   4. Posted By: Mark
        Date: May 10th, 2009 @ 2:17 pm 

    Mosley needs to go.
    Preferably before Ferrari, Toyota, and most importantly, ME!!

    [Reply]


  5.   5. Posted By: George
        Date: May 10th, 2009 @ 3:32 pm 

    To be honest I think Toyota have been looking for the exit since Honda skanked them, this is as good an excuse as any. I dont really think F1 would suffer from their loss (as with Honda), they’re not really a front running team, they dont seem to have a lot of input anywhere and Howett especially has been made fun of by some other team managers.

    The only downside to this is it gives the more competetive constructors (Ferrari and BMW) a large bargaining chip at best, and at worst it gives those teams greater incentive to leave.

    [Reply]


  6.   6. Posted By: Chuck
        Date: May 10th, 2009 @ 3:55 pm 

    The position of Toyota is understandable. History has proven that threatening to leave is a good way to get privileges for the following years.

    It will never stop to surprise me how this sport is no longer a sport but plain show-business. Rules that change every now and then for the sake of show, many of which are plain absurd.

    Love your blog!

    [Reply]


  7.   7. Posted By: Ben
        Date: May 10th, 2009 @ 5:05 pm 

    This could all be sorted out pretty easily I believe, but then there wouldnt be any panto! While listening to Setanta I heard a very informed source (Gary Anderssen -of ex Jordan among others I believe) talking about how to get ‘fair’ racing (or budget restricted is another way to put it ;-)

    He was talking about how this years changes have affected the development and raw speed of cars, and how effectively they have shifted the balance back towards mechanical grip (rather than downforce generated grip) with the introduction of slick tyres, which equal 18-20% more grip (purely mech)

    and so make the importance of downforce generated grip alot less important, or cost benificial I should say.

    Basically instead of a top team using a wind tunnel for a week and finding 0.2sec, the same week spent now with these regs would only gain negligable returns if any at all.

    So if we want closer racing (or cost restricted budgets) then they should be getting rid of even more downforce

    I just cant see this working (without alot of Manufacturors pulling out) otherwise how else will they gain an unfair advantage? – they might as well go and join F3, or whatever series is Very tight on car regulations (downforce limiting/use slick tyres ect)

    I cant help but wonder is this the beginning of the end of F1 as we know it! 8O -or rather a return to the 80′s!
    Pre manufacturing teams in a large sense.

    [Reply]


  8.   8. Posted By: Nick
        Date: May 10th, 2009 @ 5:45 pm 

    If all the teams are able to unite against MKsely could they bring him down in the elections in October? (assuming he runs again). I appreciate that the FIA general assembly is probably going to be more concerned with issues outside F1, but he does have his enemy’s. It would probably come to late to have an impact on next years regulations, but the threat of binging him down could be a negotiating point for the teams.

    [Reply]


  9.   9. Posted By: krad
        Date: May 10th, 2009 @ 7:33 pm 

    f1 without manufacturers will be better, and far more interesting. Far more variability to the grids year to year

    It will survive without Ferrari, it will just be different. Le Mans, and the american series seem to do quite well without factory teams and so will f1 if it came down to it.

    Even if they do leave there is every chance they would be back again after a few years when they have calmed down

    [Reply]


  10.   10. Posted By: rpaco
        Date: May 10th, 2009 @ 8:29 pm 

    It would be nice to know all these secret agreements and what they contain. It is very obvious the something overrules the published tech and sporting regulations because according to their own wording the the changes for 2010 would be illegal, and yet the FIA just says they will be this and this! In spite of the procedures for change built into both sets of regs.

    The FIA often quotes the Concorde agreement as the source of their power to change things, only the highest and holiest know what is in it, (or should I say richest and most powerful?) we have to take it as a matter of faith rather like religion.

    As far as I can see from a quick scan of their own articles of incorporation, the FIA is entirely self appointed and its governing bodies have their power only by their own auspices.

    There are other race series not run by the FIA in spite of them declaring their omnipotence.

    [Reply]


  11.   11. Posted By: Ben
        Date: May 10th, 2009 @ 8:44 pm 

    In the movie based on the above storyline:

    Montazemello: “If I go down, Im taking you with us max!!”
    :D

    [Reply]


  12.   12. Posted By: Amanda
        Date: May 10th, 2009 @ 9:08 pm 

    It seems Red Bull have said they’ll boycott too and they are an independent team.

    Could FOTA be uniting against the FIA by boycotting the entry deadline?

    What are your thoughts on this James?

    [Reply]


  13.   13. Posted By: Alan
        Date: May 11th, 2009 @ 11:14 am 

    “vehemently” – new word for me.

    Thanks James for the English lesson.

    [Reply]


  14.   14. Posted By: Will
        Date: May 11th, 2009 @ 4:34 pm 

    This situation all depends on if FOTA can stick together.

    If they can, and less than a quarter of the teams sign up for 2010 the Bernie and Max show will have two options. One is continue their series with all these applicants that want to enter under a budget cap. The other is to change the rules.

    If the FIA won’t budge, they can accelerate the situation by wheeling out the big stick called GPWC, a photo op with Damon Hill and the obvious connotations of a race at Silverstone.

    FOTA could manipulate the other bodies to their advantage, by supporting an Anti-Max coup in the FIA. One thing that could be an interesting ploy would be for FOTA to get out their chequebooks and buy CVC’s stake in F1 Group. That would be expensive, but that would mean they could kick Bernie out and select their own commissioner – with the teams getting their money, not Bernie. Then, F1 might actually get on a better track. There was a time when a Bernie was needed to grow the sport, but that phase is over, F1 is now established. It just needs to make the right decisions.

    [Reply]

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