The International Automobile Federation (FIA) today claimed BMW Sauber's withdrawal from Formula One could have been avoided if initial planned cost cuts had been imposed. The team confirmed they are to pull out at the end of the season, ending their four-year involvement as a fully-fledged manufacturer. The news comes just eight months after Honda announced their exit, which sparked the FIA into action, and ultimately a war with the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) over funding and the future direction of F1. The FIA president Max Mosley's introduction of a £40 million (Dh240m) budget cap resulted in a bitter feud with the teams, who appeared to win the day as financial reductions will be scaled down to 1990s levels, but only by 2011. The FIA, unsurprised by BMW's decision following a management board meeting yesterday, believe if there had not been such opposition to their plans then the Munich-based team would likely have continued. "The FIA regrets the announcement of BMW's intended withdrawal from Formula One, but is not surprised by it," read an FIA statement. "It has been clear for some time that motorsport cannot ignore the world economic crisis. "Car manufacturers cannot be expected to continue to pour large sums of money into Formula One when their survival depends on redundancies, plant closures and the support of the taxpayer. "This is why the FIA prepared regulations to reduce costs drastically. "These measures were needed to alleviate the pressure on manufacturers following Honda's withdrawal, but also to make it possible for new teams to enter. "Had these regulations not been so strongly opposed by a number of team principals, the withdrawal of BMW and further such announcements in the future might have been avoided. "Nevertheless, as a result of a sustained cost-cutting campaign by the FIA, new measures are in the process of being agreed which should make it easier for new teams to enter and enable existing ones to participate on much reduced budgets. "It is no secret these measures do not go as far as the FIA would have liked, but a compromise was needed in the interests of harmony in the sport. "Hopefully it will be enough to prevent further withdrawals and provide a solid foundation for Formula One. "As the guardian of the sport, the FIA is committed to ensuring Formula One remains financially sustainable for all competing teams and it will always act to ensure that this remains the case." Suggestions Toyota might follow have been alleviated by comments today from a Toyota Motor Corporation spokesman. He said: "Through cost reduction we will continue our Formula One activities. Our situation remains unchanged." There remains a possibility Renault could also go, especially as it has been rumoured team boss Flavio Briatore has been attempting to raise the finances to continue as an independent team. It would appear, though, despite the planned cost cuts, BMW Sauber feel the resources required to compete in F1 can be utilised in other areas of the company. FOTA, meanwhile, have offered their full support to BMW Sauber in the hope of seeing the team continue in F1, just as the body helped Brawn GP onto the grid after Honda's demise. The FOTA secretary general Simone Perillo said: "FOTA teams have immediately consulted each other and are ready to assure all the necessary support to the Swiss-based team, whose membership in the association is confirmed, to continue its involvement in F1. "It is worth mentioning a professional work has already begun within FOTA, aimed at increasing the involvement of the fans and at improving the F1 show. "Among those initiatives, one that could be interesting is the introduction of a third car on the grid. "FOTA will seek the opinions of all the most relevant stakeholders in order to exchange ideas and define proposals for the future of Formula One. "FOTA teams now wish to have the necessary certainty and stability within Formula One in order to focus on those fundamental priorities for the future."
* PA Sport