The nine remaining teams in the Formula One Teams Association submitted a conditional entry for the 2010 world championship before the deadline at midnight last night.
Along with that single entry for all nine of them, they have submitted a document with proposals for cost reduction to the FIA, which Toyota’s John Howett describes as ‘comprehensive’.
There has been a mixed reaction to this. Some media are saying that Ferrari and the other teams have signed up for 2010, others are highlighting the conditional nature of the entry and the two main conditions which they want to see fulfilled before their commitment will be confirmed.
One is the signature of the Concorde Agreement by June 12th. This would bind in all three parties, the FIA, FOM and the teams to an agreement which would run to the end of 2012. In the Concorde Agreement there are protocols for deciding the rules, involving things like the F1 commission made up of teams, sponsors, promoters and so on, which did not come into play in the framing of the 2010 rules thus far because there is no Concorde Agreement in place. Their idea is that the Concorde Agreement would then take care of the 2011 rules.
The teams want all parties to sign the agreement by June 12th. Bernie Ecclestone is believed to want the agreement to be for five years duration, rather than three, so that could be a sticking point. June 12th is also the date on which the FIA plans to announce which 13 teams have had their entries accepted. As far as I can tell there are 15 teams looking for 13 spaces. If all the existing teams stay, then there will be three slots available for the five other teams. So we may end up with two of them teaming up, which would be quite logical.
The other condition the teams have made is that the rules stay the same as this year, ie no two tier system with a £40 million budget cap. All the other teams who have signed up, including Williams and the new teams, Campos, USF1, Prodrive, Litespeed and Lola, have signed up to compete under the £40 million cap. All must have engine contracts in place before entering, by the way, so one must presume the majority are with Cosworth.
FOTA’s statement doesn’t say that all teams must operate under the same rules, only that all the FOTA teams must, which I suppose leaves open the possibility that the budget cap could apply to the other four teams (Williams plus three new ones) as these teams are not part of FOTA.
The teams are quite adamant behind the scenes that their statement is a rejection of the notion of the budget cap. Instead they intend to self police and self regulate. They will agree among themselves not to spend any more than a target amount in 2010 and 2011 and this amount will decline significantly over the two years. No-one would give me an accurate figure but I still think it’s going to be around £80 to £100 million in 2010 and £40 to £50 million from 2011 onwards.
Incidentally there is nothing specific in the FOTA press release about technical help for the new teams. I’m told there are some thoughts in the technical document, but nothing concrete. Another important point to make is that the join entry includes Toyota so it looks, despite the spin, as though Toyota is at this stage planning to stay in F1. If the terms of the final offer do not suit them there is always the possibility that they will leave.
So yes, the teams, led by Ferrari, have signed up, but there still seem to me to be some fairly big blockages in the road to a settlement. I guess the next deadline in this process is June 12th, but before that the FIA is going to have to make some kind of acknowledgment of the entries and we will see how they take to the terms of what has been put forward.
Sources close to the FIA are still confident that a budget cap is on its way, even if the figure in 2010 is higher than originally planned.
For more on the FOTA position, take a look at the Q&A with Toyota’s John Howett on Autosport.com