Little more than an hour to go, as I write this, before the entry list is published for the 2010 F1 world championship.
It has been described as being one of the most momentous days in F1 history by some and as an imminent armageddon by others. But I think all parties are aware that there is a bigger picture here.
F1 is a business that is attempting to change its model, but is undergoing a crisis about how to achieve that.
The timetable for this has been set by the FIA, who made the deadlines. The eight teams from FOTA have put in conditional entries and negotiations have been taking place right up to the deadline to find a solution. Although they aren’t too far apart on the numbers, the two sides are ideologically still quite far apart, so I can imagine a situation where the entries of the FOTA teams remain “provisional”, pending further talks.
When the F1 calendar is published there are often races which are marked as “provisional”, usually pending some track improvements.
The next FIA world council meeting is in two weeks time and I can imagine that will be the date by which the FIA will want to have everything done and dusted.
To the outside world, the sport has looked quite dysfunctional in recent weeks, with household-name teams threatening to quit and races held in front of empty grandstands in Turkey.
The biggest spenders in F1, the manufacturers, are where they are on this and are centrally involved in what happens next. But the current crisis has done nothing to reassure sponsors in F1 that the sport is on a sure footing. They are interested in return on investment.
Yesterday FIA president Max Mosley met with four of the team bosses for last minute talks. The teams, led by Ferrari, have said that they will not enter unconditionally unless the Concorde Agreement is signed, and then they want to use the channels laid out in that agreement to form the rules for next year.
The FIA appears to be suggesting that teams run under a £100m budget cap next year dropping to £40 million the following year.
The FIA and Bernie Ecclestone are adamant that the five teams who signed up in 2005 are legally bound to race next year. Williams seem to agree with that and are unconditionally entered, so are Force India. The two Red Bull teams and Ferrari are the others on that list and it is possible that both will appear on the list. Ferrari have already suggested that they would take a very dim view of this, as they believe the FIA has breached the agreement.
As for the new teams, I can see USF1 getting an entry along with Prodrive and quite possibly Campos.
That gives eight teams the FIA considers entered and five slots remaining.
McLaren, Renault, BMW, Toyota, Brawn may well appear on the list with a “provisional” tag.
If they are not on the list at all and names like Brabham and Lotus are, then things could get really interesting.