Williams and Force India have been welcomed back into the Formula One Teams Association, having been asked to leave over the summer when they broke ranks and signed up to the F1 championship, rather than follow the breakaway movement.
With the resolution of that conflict in late July, it was always expected that the two would be readmitted at some point, but at a FOTA meeting in Monza today they came in from the cold.
This weekend marks the first anniversary of the key moment when FOTA was formed and I remember the atmosphere in the paddock as the team bosses delighted in the fact that they had formed what they felt was an unbreakable union. You always knew that things would never be quite the same again, once the teams agreed to stick together.
That union was severely tested in the last 12 months, the two teams were expelled along the way and the stand-off with the FIA and FOM led to the announcement of a breakaway in late June.
That brought about a deal and the signature of the Concorde Agreement until 2012 and, as I speculated a few weeks ago they might, the FOTA members have suggested that they would like to start talks to stabilise things beyond 2012.
This would be great news for the sport in that it would avoid another bloody war in two years time over share of money and governance. But there will still be a tough road ahead because the teams want a lot more money next time around and, as CVC’s figures of $500 million loss on F1 released yesterday show, there is a limit to how far they might be prepared to go to accommodate the teams.
Also it will be interesting to see whether all the manufacturers in FOTA are willing to commit to a period of maybe five years beyond 2012.
It sounds like Mercedes will, as they appear to have bought a controlling interest in the Brawn team, to go with their 40% stake in McLaren.
Here’s today’s FOTA statement in full:
“The FOTA Executive Committee, chaired by Luca di Montezemolo, today enjoyed a productive meeting in Monza. FOTA re-affirmed that all teams competing in Formula One are able to join the association. FOTA therefore welcomes back into full membership both Williams and Force India.
“The Executive Committee also looks forward to welcoming the new entrants to join the association whilst they continue to prepare for next year’s championship.The FOTA Executive Committee looks forward to working with the FIA and Commercial Rights Holder to promote a healthy, dynamic and sustainable sport. To this end, FOTA intends to now enter into open discussion with the Commercial Rights Holder with the wish to confirm arrangements beyond 2012.
“Furthermore, FOTA will now arrange a seminar, open to representatives of the major stakeholders (including Media, Sponsors and Promoters), to discuss how working together we can develop the show creating a more attractive spectacle for the fans.”
I look forward to taking part in that seminar.