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Stefano Domenicali Q&A
Ferrari team boss outlines FOTA demands
On Friday the nine members of the Formula One Teams Association respected the May 29 deadline and filed their entries for the 2010 season with the FIA – however they did so conditionally, as topics related to cost-cutting and regulations,
among several other matters, remain to be agreed upon as both parties continue to negotiate.

FOTA is pushing for a resolution to the crisis by June 12th at the latest and teams have threatened to pull out of Formula One if their conditions are not met.

The Williams team's FOTA membership was suspended earlier when it broke ranks and filed its 2010 entry form prior to the other teams sending in their conditional entries.

Williams management explained that F1 being their core business, they could not risk breaching the deadline imposed by the FIA and seeing themselves possibly pushed out of the sport, with the number of existing teams and new potential outfits greater than the number of available spaces.

The FOTA members refuse to accept the 2010 rules and consider that filing entries before negotiations have been completed amounts to an acceptance of said rules as they currently stand; hence the conditional nature of their entries for next year's championship until the talks result in an acceptable agreement.

The FIA have yet to publicly comment on the FOTA manoeuvre, so its acceptance or refusal of the conditional entries has not been confirmed.

Stefano Domenicali, the Ferrari Team Principal, answered questions regarding the situation and what it means for the future of the sport.

The FOTA press release talks of conditional entries: what does that mean?

"It’s very simple. The nine teams – Williams' membership having been suspended – that currently make up FOTA, have put in entries for the 2010 championship that will only be valid if the Concorde Agreement is signed and if the regulations will be those currently in use, but modified as per FOTA’s suggestions. The action taken yesterday is completely in keeping with Ferrari’s principles, as stated at the Main Board meeting on 12 May and with those of FOTA."

What will happen if these conditions are not met?

"Once again, the answer is simple: the entries from the nine teams will be invalid."

Why is there a deadline of 12 June?

"Because that’s the date when the FIA must publish the list of teams entered in the 2010 championship and we want everything to be resolved by that date."

Does the decision to conditionally sign up imply an eventual acceptance of the budget cap?

"Absolutely not. The request to make the 2009 regulations the starting point, means there will be no budget cap."

And what plans are there then to reduce costs?

"It should be done by implementing a self-regulating procedure within FOTA, so that the body itself and the teams carry out the monitoring. We know exactly what must be done and we can do it on our own, as can be seen from what has been achieved so far. In fact, this is exactly what has been happening for years as regards testing, where it is the teams that have reached an agreement among themselves to manage the situation and it works well.

"

Can you go into more detail about how costs will be reduced?

"First and foremost, our starting point is the decision already taken by FOTA, to make available to the independent teams an engine-gearbox package at a cost of 6.5 million Euros for the entire season. Then, further reductions have been defined in the area of aerodynamics, with restrictions imposed on the amount of development work, for example, restricting the number of different wings that can be used during the course of the championship. In this way, we maintain the technological competition but without it spiralling, thus having a beneficial effect on costs."

"One could also reduce the structure of the team over a race weekend, for example, by doing away with refuelling during the race. There are many other points, but for the moment we prefer not to go into further detail, given we are in discussion with the FIA."

With this system, will it be possible for new teams to come into Formula One?

"Yes, because the considerable reduction in costs which will follow means it will be possible to take part and be sufficiently competitive in a discipline which remains the ultimate form of motor sport, both as a competition and a business, given that its worth and its visibility will not just remain unaltered but will actually be strengthened by the efforts of all the major constructors to stay for the long term."

Over the past few weeks, there has been talk from Ferrari and FOTA about requesting solid rules of governance for the sport and stability as a condition for reaching an agreement. How would this request work in practice?

"The signing of the Concorde Agreement would be confirmation of the usual rules that have governed the running of the regulations of Formula One over the past years – I refer to the role of the Formula One Commission as the only forum in which the rules are established – and at the same time, it would contractually bind all the teams to stay in the sport at least until 2012."

Do you feel this answers the concerns expressed by the FIA over the past few months? "Yes, I think so. The FIA wants to significantly reduce costs with two objectives: to stop any more existing teams from quitting the sport and to allow for the eventual entry of new teams. Both these targets can be met: costs will be considerably reduced and, at the same time, there will be considerable efforts made by the current competitors in Formula One to stay in the sport."

If these requests are met by 12 June, can it be claimed that FOTA has won the battle?

"If this happens and I really hope it does, I would prefer to say that Formula One is the winner: it will have kept its main characteristics of technological and sporting competition, it will have been assured of stability in the regulations and the long term commitment of the participants. This is what FOTA has always wanted: to work alongside the FIA and the Commercial Rights Holder for a healthy and prosperous Formula One."



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