Last night it looked as though World War Three had broken out again between the F1 teams and the governing body, but having got to the Nurburgring and heard both sides, it seems to me that, bizarrely, a lasting solution is close.
Despite the fire and brimstone of various statements over the last 48 hours, in fact the two sides are close to signing a new Concorde Agreement which would return stability to the sport. This document would also be signed by venture capital firm CVC, who are majority shareholders in the commercial rights holder, with Bernie Ecclestone. CVC and the teams have been talking directly this week and are both keen to get this situation resolved so they can get on with the future.
From the briefings I’ve had today it seems as though the teams and CVC have, to some extent, marginalised Ecclestone and Mosley in this latest phase of the story, but I doubt that those two men see it that way. Mosley is playing the strong man, looking for two key conditions to be met; the teams to sign the new Concorde Agreement and at the same time to agree a legally binding agreement among themselves (including the new teams) to reduce costs to early 1990s levels.
The feeling is that once those two things have been done, he will not stand for re-election in October, because he will have achieved what he set out to achieve.
For the teams, their conditions are that the FIA must sign the agreement too and Mosley must step down in October.
The drama of the last 48 hours was all about Mosley giving the three new teams and the two non-FOTA teams (Williams and Force India) a voice in the 2010 rules. After the rather farcical situation yesterday when the eight FOTA teams were told they were not entered in the 2010 championship and therefore had no vote, the five remaining teams then simply voted through the package agreed in Paris on June 25th.
This means the rules for next year will be as 2009, but with no refuelling and no KERS. There will be no budget cap and Cosworth will have no special performance advantages. The FOTA teams, not surprisingly, were uncomfortable with the three new teams having a say in the rules, given that they have no experience of F1 and have contributed nothing to the sport so far. But they have entered the championship and Mosley wants to make sure that they are represented.
The FIA issued a statement this afternoon ‘setting the record straight’ about the events of the last couple of days, which led to the eight FOTA teams walking out of a technical meeting. It is a strange document and one which, frankly, no-one in the media or among the teams fully understands. But that doesn’t really matter because the essence of it in is the last two lines; a new Concorde Agreement is being finalised and could be signed in the next week. Once that happens, stability will be restored to F1.
The FIA surprised the eight FOTA teams by saying that as things stand they are not entered into next year’s championship. This message was delivered by the FIA’s Charlie Whiting during a technical working group meeting. I spoke to the FIA and the reason why they are not entered in the FIA’s eyes is simply that they have not physically put an entry in yet, even though they’ve said they will and the entry list was published by the FIA after the Paris meeting with the eight FOTA teams on it.
I’ve spoken to a few team bosses about this today and they seem quite calm. They are focussing on the facts as they see them and working with commercial right holders CVC in particular, towards a conclusion which will see them sign the new Concorde Agreement, possibly in the next few days. They are still mentioning the word ‘breakaway’, as an alternative if things do not go according to plan and seem comfortable to do so, but the reality for them is that they will sign the agreement as long as the FIA signs it too. That said, if there has been no movement by the end of this month then the “B” word will be aired again.