F1 Circus/PR stunt continues: FOTA ‘walks out’ of FIA meeting

UPDATE #2 A reader writes, Dear AR1, This is just getting silly. I am beginning to think you are correct – these annual controversies are very suspicious and could be fabricated to get free PR. Pat McCune

07/09/09 (GMM) F1's short period of faux-peace ended dramatically on the eve of the German grand prix, and on Thursday the battle via media was back in high gear.

After the eight FOTA teams walked out of a FIA meeting on Wednesday, the governing body hit back with a 700-word press document accusing the Geneva based alliance of not telling the truth in its Wednesday release.

In an article posted on the official Ferrari website, meanwhile, the Italian team cherry-picked the media coverage of the resumption of hostilities to issue a strong rebuke of the sport's ageing figureheads Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone.

A section of a Daily Mail article described the pair as "gruesome" and "awful men" and said they "can't be removed from public life quickly enough".

The Ferrari piece called the British newspaper "incisive" and the verdict "telling".

The FIA was also in fighting mood, insisting FOTA – and "anyone with an elementary knowledge of motor sport governance" – knows that rules can only be amended with unanimity.

"To suggest that FOTA were only made aware of this during the meetings of yesterday is quite simply untrue," said the Paris body. "So is the implicit claim that they were all unaware of one of motor sport's basic principles."

The FIA also made FOTA's protest of the necessity for unanimity seem foolish by revealing that the five non-FOTA teams actually did confirm the rule changes agreed" on 24 June, raising the question about what the rebel teams are really objecting to.

It seems the problem might be the teams' reluctance to all sign a "legally enforceable contract" pledging to reduce costs to 1990s levels, with the FIA confirming that this document has not yet been enacted.

The FIA also believes FOTA has broken the Paris "deal" by offering not an amended 1998 Concorde Agreement for the FIA to sign, but instead a "completely new" agreement numbering 350 pages.

Nevertheless, the 2009 Concorde will be "ready for signature in the coming days", the FIA added.

07/08/09 (GMM) Formula one's brief peace was shattered on Wednesday, as the teams met with the governing body in Germany.

According to the FIA, the meeting ahead of the German grand prix at the Nurburgring was to seek the agreement of all 13 2010 teams to scrap the proposed budget cap rules and replace them with a "legally binding agreement … to reduce costs" to early 90s levels within two years.

"The eight FOTA teams were invited to attend the meeting to discuss their further proposals for 2010. Unfortunately no discussion was possible because FOTA walked out of the meeting," the Paris federation said in a statement.

FOTA, representing every 2010 team except Williams, Force India and the three new entrants, gave a different account, revealing that the FIA's Charlie Whiting informed them that they "are not currently entered into the 2010 … world championship and have no voting rights in relation to the technical and sporting regulations thereof".

Representatives of the rebel group requested the meeting be postponed but "this was rejected". FOTA denies part of the Paris peace deal in late June was the requirement "for unanimous agreement on regulations change".

"To subsequently go against the will of the WMSC (World Motor Sport Council) and the detail of the Paris agreement puts the future of formula one in jeopardy," said FOTA.

The eight FOTA teams said they had "no option other than to terminate their participation" in the FIA meeting.

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