MONTE CARLO // Formula One's governing body have suggested that a budget cap could be postponed until 2011 while teams called for next year's rules to be scrapped in return for a pledge to stay in the sport. The International Automobile Federation (FIA) wants to introduce an optional £40million (Dh233m) cap for 2010 to help new teams enter and ensure the survival of existing competitors.
FIA president Max Mosley had said at the Monaco Grand Prix, however, that a higher figure could be agreed for next year before the full cap in 2011. While Williams yesterday became the first team to officially confirm they will race in 2010, they have said they are not distancing themselves from the FOTA (Formula One Teams' Association) stand of challenging Mosley's proposals for new regulations. The Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali said after Sunday's race in Monacao that FOTA had written to the FIA seeking guarantees and putting forward their own proposals.
"What we have asked is to go back to the rules of this year, the 2009 rules," he said. "And then see together what we can do in order to make changes for the next year. "Bear in mind that for sure the cost is something all the teams are fully committed to working on but is something that is related to the business of the teams. "We know what we can invest. We know what we can do, and this is something the teams can discuss internally.
Mosley said one or two manufacturers might leave at the end of the season, with or without a cap, but he was confident that the current constructors' champions Ferrari would remain despite a threat to quit. "I think one or two of them may have to stop, but nothing to do with these discussions," he said. "It is very difficult for a major manufacturer to continue in Formula One when they are doing economies in their factories like shutting off every other lift, turning down the electricity, not cleaning the windows, not serving coffee at the meetings.
"A company that is in that sort of situation is unlikely to go on pouring massive money into Formula One," said the Briton. The former constructors' champions Renault, who are facing a gaping hole in their team budget after their main sponsor ING announced their departure at the end of the year, and Toyota are seen as the most uncertain. Japan's Honda have already walked away, their place being taken by the championship leaders Brawn GP.
The 2010 regulations published last month included the optional cap, with teams who accept it granted greater technical freedom than those remaining with unlimited budgets. Ferrari have said that would create an unacceptable two-tier series and have threatened to walk away. So too have Renault, Toyota and the two Red Bull teams. "I am confident Ferrari will still be here," said Mosley. Mosley met Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo in Monaco on Friday, after an inconclusive meeting with teams bosses in London the previous week, and the Briton said the talks were progressing well although an agreement was still some way off.
"We can see solutions now. I don't think there is any fundamental diversity of view," he said. "The main stumbling block really is the same old thing, trying to reconcile the people who have got a lot of money at the moment and think they will continue to have a lot, with the interests of those who haven't, and trying to keep a full grid." * Reuters From Ian Parkes, PA Sport, Monaco Page 1: 04:42
The future of Formula One is back in the melting pot in the wake of a bombshell letter to FIA president Max Mosley from all 10 teams. Less than three hours after Mosley had spoken of the possibility of a compromise with the Formula One Teams' Association regarding next season's budget cap, he was handed the letter that effectively took the wind out of his sails. Mosley had also expressed his confidence Ferrari, the ringleader in the current war with the FIA, would sign up by this Friday's entry deadline.
But that now has to be in serious doubt as the teams are demanding Mosley scrap the 2010 regulations in return for their commitment through to 2012. That would be a significant move as Mosley today expressed a view that two of the current manufacturers would pull out of F1 anyway, regardless of the budget cap, due to the ongoing financial crisis in the car industry. News of the letter came from Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali following a Monaco Grand Prix in which his team showed a return to form as Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa finished third and fourth.
"What we have asked is to go back to the rules of this year, the 2009 rules," said Domenicali. ""We can decide on our own what we can afford to keep the value of F1 at the standard that we know. It is not something that we feel should be involved with somebody else." Although Mosley had earlier expressed confidence a resolution was close at hand, he also made it clear "the main stumbling block is really the same old thing".
That is trying to keep everybody happy, including the prospective new entrants for next year. That view was reiterated by Brawn GP CEO Nick Fry, who said: "We are all in favour of a degree of financial responsibility. I know there is no team that is proposing a financial free-for-all. "We all represent big companies and the economic times are not appropriate to be spending a lot of money. "The only discussion is how you do it and what the right mechanism is.
"We have a huge range of teams - teams that want to come into the championship that are small and have limited resources and coming from lower formulas. "We have teams who do have a huge amount of infrastructure and we have teams like ourselves that were lucky enough to benefit from manufacturer backing but now don't have that. "Then there are teams that are still very large and enjoy manufacturer backing.
"The issue is how you actually find a compromise that enables the little guys to have a fighting chance and the big guys to down-size their companies in a sensible period of time, and that's not easy."