This is going to be a big day. The F1 team owners meet this morning to discuss their next move in the escalating row over the 2010 budget cap rules.
By the end of today, the teams will really have to make their minds up whether they are going to put an entry in before the deadline of May 29th.
At the moment, there is every indication that Ferrari are determined to stick to their guns and if nothing changes they will not put an entry in for 2010. They are backed up by other manufacturers including Renault and Toyota. I sense that BMW are sitting on the fence a little bit, having given indications that they would put their own statement out along the lines of Ferrari and Renault last week, but the statement never came and you keep hearing that the view of the race team management on this issue is different from what the board of the car company thinks.
The FIA is sticking to its guns too, determined to drive through the budget cap, but possibly able to make some concessions around what is included and what is not.
One point I heard last night from Mark Webber, which hasn’t been said much before is that Ferrari is important to F1 for all the other teams because racing against them adds prestige to their own team. Without Ferrari, in other words, F1 would be struggling for a reference point. From the way McLaren and Mercedes are behaving at the moment, they may be well placed to benefit from a manufacturer withdrawal from F1 and so would become one of the few reference points for the teams who would continue, along with Williams. But it is too soon for Brawn, for example, to be seen as the reference point for F1, despite their strong form this season.
As for the new teams coming in, I Sport’s Paul Jackson has given an interview to Autosport website where he talks very confidently about coming into F1 with his team, which has been very successful in GP2. His is precisely the kind of team which used to make the step up, as Jordan did and Sauber in the past. He contends that F1 is for teams like his and that the manufacturers’ place is as an engine supplier, as it was largely until the late 1990s.
“F1 always was small teams. If they named GP2 Formula 1 and put it on the TV, how many people would know? Only the real hardcore enthusiasts,” I’m not sure I agree fully with this, as you cannot unknow what you know, but he makes a good point.
All eyes on Flavio Briatore’s boat for the first of the day’s meetings.