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Drivers backing teams over FIA

Formula One's top drivers have said they will back a separate new championship if no compromise can be reached over the existing series.

ISTANBUL // Formula One's top drivers have said they will back a separate new championship if no compromise can be reached over the existing series. A split is looming unless the FIA, motorsport's governing body, can sort out their differences with the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) over proposed new rules and regulations for the 2010 season. The row has escalated since the FIA announced cost-cutting measures for the teams, including a 40million (Dh234m) budget.

FOTA want a new Concorde Agreement - the regulatory and commercial document that governed Formula One until the end of 2007 - signed this week and their preferred regulations put in place, otherwise they will pull out of the series. With little sign of an agreement before the entrants for next year's championship are confirmed on Friday, the idea of a breakaway event, organised by FOTA and featuring their eight members including Ferrari, McLaren-Mercedes, Brawn GP and Renault, remains a strong, viable option.

The drivers of the FOTA teams, excluding Williams and Force India - who have been suspended from the group for making unconditional entries next year - met yesterday to discuss the tense situation and put the ball firmly in the court of Max Mosley, the president of the FIA. Fernando Alonso, the two-time world champion, said: "If the manufacturers cannot sign up for F1 and they organise a parallel championship, that would be most interesting, because you would see the technology and the fastest cars in the world and, in the end, that's where the drivers want to be.

"I prefer to race in any other category before the new F1." The Toyota driver Jarno Trulli, a former director of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, added: "The rules are not clear. In fact there are various rules to be defined and all the drivers have the same feeling, to follow FOTA and respect above all the work they are doing on the coming rules and the running of Formula One in a serious way for the future.

"Mosley must understand there are some things that cannot happen. The rules for 2010 are absolutely not good because Formula One must remain the number one sport in the world, with great technology and with the manufacturers. You can't try to bring in other teams who may have never had any idea about what it takes to compete with the cars and in a championship of such a high level. "At the moment we have to wait and see because FOTA want to reach a solution together with the federation.

"I know that in the next week something should budge, must move. Otherwise there will inevitably then be a split." akhan@thenational.ae

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