I’ve been fascinated by the coverage of the FOTA teams’ entry for next year’s world championship in the last couple of days.
On Friday morning I was saying that something was going to come out of FOTA which was quite different from the convergence position with the FIA that was being widely reported. And so it proved. Then when the FOTA statement was made most commentators seemed to see it as Ferrari and the other eight teams signing up after all, which it was some way from being.
Ferrari obviously felt quite frustrated with this and so they issued one of those self-generated Q & A documents, with team principal Stefano Domenicali. The intention here was to SPELL IT OUT for those who hadn’t quite grasped the point of what FOTA is saying.
I won’t go over it again, because I’ve written enough about it already, but two things need to be taken away from Stefano’s comments.
First that all nine teams are willing to sign up to race in F1 until the end of 2012 (if their conditions are met). The importance of this point is that the teams are saying that the sport need not fear that it will lose any existing teams, they are making it clear they aren’t going anywhere. The fear of losing teams was one of the main drivers for the budget cap idea.
Second, whereas before Monaco weekend, it was only Ferrari, Toyota, Red Bull and Renault saying that they would quit F1 if the 2010 rules were not changed, now all nine FOTA teams are saying that, which is a much stronger proposition, as Domenicali spells out below.
“It’s very simple. The nine teams – Williams membership having been suspended – that currently make up FOTA, have put in entries for the 2010 championship that will only be valid if the Concorde Agreement is signed and if the regulations will be those currently in use, but modified as per FOTA’s suggestions. The action taken yesterday is completely in keeping with Ferrari’s principles, as stated at the Main Board meeting on 12 May and with those of FOTA.
Q. What will happen if these conditions are not met?
SD: Once again, the answer is simple: the entries from the nine teams will be invalid.”
This has moved the story on quite a bit from the Monaco weekend and is completely against the grain of what was being reported in the days following Monaco.
The FIA believes that Ferrari has a contract to race in F1 and that this was proven in the Paris court case Ferrari brought, seeking an injunction, before Monaco. If the FIA decides to play hardball and reject FOTA’s conditions, it may be that Ferrari, Williams and the new teams are the only names on the entry list which will be published on June 12th.
Meanwhile I note that Alex Wurz has tabled an entry with his Austrian chums from Superfund. Without a sniff of a new team on the horizon for years we now have five putting in entries, which means paying a £2.5 million engine deposit. Some of them have been planning this moment for years, waiting for the right circumstances, others are seizing an opportunity.