FOTA moving ahead, Montezemolo

Tue, 06/23/2009 - 03:15

The Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) is moving ahead with its plans to set up a rival series to the Formula 1 championship, Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo said on Monday.

Montezemolo, who is also the FOTA chairman, denied that relations had improved with the head of the international racing federation FIA, Max Mosley, and that a compromise was near to avoid a split in Formula 1.

''This does not appear to be the case to me, I don't know, I haven't been dealing with this directly,'' Montezemolo said.

FOTA announced last week that due to rule changes imposed by Mosley and an overall problem of governance in FIA, its members would not take part in the next Formula 1 season and, instead, would prepare their own series for 2010.

FIA responded by saying it was moving to take FOTA to court should they attempt to set up a rival series and singled out Ferrari, which FIA claimed has an obligation to race in Formula 1 based on a previous agreement and thus could not back out.

Many observers see the dispute between FIA and FOTA as a power struggle between Mosley and Montezemolo with the FIA boss accusing Ferrari of undermining any possible compromise.

Mosley has also accused Renault principal Flavio Briatore of seeking to wrestle control of the sport's commercial rights away from Bernie Ecclestone.

Ecclestone told The Times of London on Monday that he intended to stop the sport from ''disintegrating''.

''I have given 35 years of my life and more to Formula 1. My marriage broke up because of Formula 1, so I am sure as hell not going to let things disintegrate over what is, in the end, basically nothing'', he said.

''If you analyse the problems, there aren't any that can't be easily solved,'' Ecclestone added.

FOTA is made up of all ten teams currently in the Formula 1 season, although Williams and Force India were suspended after they broke ranks and signed up with FIA for next season without condition.

The other FOTA members said they would sign up for 2010 only if the FIA rule changes Mosley imposed were modified.

Mosley, however, insisted that they drop any condition first, after which he said rule changes could be discussed, and set a June 19 deadline.

FOTA, the backbone of which are the so-called manufacturing teams - Ferrari, McLaren-Mercedes, Renault and BMW - stuck to its guns and said that without the changes it would set up its own series.

The rule changes basically center on a budget cap and a possible two-tier rule system.

A showdown between FOTA and Mosley is expected to take center stage when the governing FIA World Motor Sport Council meets on Wednesday.

Ferrari's website has posted a report claiming that fans were overwhelmingly in favor of FOTA over FIA in the rules dispute.

It cited a poll on the manipef1.com website that found 87.2% supporting a FOTA championship for next year compared to 4.5% for one run by FIA and 8.1% without opinion.

A similar poll run by autosport.com saw 87.98 in favor of FOTA and 12.02% of FIA, while a SkyTV survey found 91% supporting FOTA and 9% FIA.

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