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Formula 1 breakaway

Stephen Dobie
19 Jun 2009
Formula 1

Formula 1's top teams - including Ferrari, Brawn and McLaren - to set up breakaway league


The eve of the British Grand Prix has been thrown into chaos as Formula 1’s top teams have announced plans for a breakaway series.

Eight teams which make up the Formula One Teams’ Association (Fota) – Brawn GP, Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Toyota and BMW Sauber – all contest to FIA boss Max Mosley’s plans to introduce a £40m budget cap from next season.

The cap is voluntary, but those who comply with it get technical benefits. The protesting teams see this benefit as impossible to match with their bigger budgets, and to cut their spending would be unfeasible and involve cutting much of their staff.

And with the FIA not backing down, Fota and its teams have seemingly decided to go ahead with a rival competition, independent of the world motorsport governing body. Here’s Fota’s statement –

‘Since the formation of Fota last September the teams have worked together and sought to engage the FIA and commercial rights holder (Bernie Ecclestone), to develop and improve the sport. Unprecedented worldwide financial turmoil has inevitably placed great challenges before the F1 community.

‘Fota is proud that it has achieved the most substantial measures to reduce costs in the history of our sport. In particular, the manufacturer teams have provided assistance to the independent teams, a number of which would probably not be in the sport today without the Fota initiatives.

‘The Fota teams have further agreed upon a substantial voluntary cost reduction that provides a sustainable model for the future. Following these efforts, all the teams have confirmed to the FIA and the commercial rights holder that they are willing to commit until the end of 2012. The FIA and the commercial rights holder have campaigned to divide Fota.

‘The wishes of the majority of the teams are ignored. Furthermore, tens of millions of dollars have been withheld from many teams by the commercial rights holder, going back as far as 2006. Despite this, and the uncompromising environment, Fota has genuinely sought compromise.

‘It has become clear, however, the teams cannot continue to compromise on the fundamental values of the sport and have declined to alter their original conditional entries to the 2010 world championship.’

Fota added that its championship would put F1 fans first and boast the best drivers and sponsors.

‘This series will have transparent governance, one set of regulations, encourage more entrants and listen to the wishes of the fans, including offering lower prices for spectators worldwide, partners and other important stakeholders The major drivers, stars, brands, sponsors, promoters and companies historically associated with the highest level of motorsport will all feature in this new series.’

Two teams have committed to the FIA’s new conditions – Force India and Williams – the latter breaking away from Fota to do so. There’s a host of new teams bidding for places too, including Prodrive (with potential for an Aston Martin F1 team), with the FIA insisting 2010’s full entry list will be announced on Saturday.

One thing’s for certain, the drama will be cranked up very high for this weekend’s British GP at Silverstone. It’s the last FIA F1 race in Northants for the foreseeable future, with Donington Park taking the reins from 2010. Whether a breakaway series would bring things back to Silverstone remains to be seen…

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