Warn that other options must be considered
At the Team Principals press conference held at Istanbul Park today, the bosses from the Ferrari, Toyota and Renault teams faced a barrage of questions relating to the ongoing talks between the FOTA members and the FIA.
the Formula One Teamsí Association essentially pushing for cost reductions from a different angle than those being imposed by FIA President Max Mosley, and with the latter recently commenting that the opposing teams could always start their own independent championship if they did not agree with his plan, rumours of a breakaway series have never been so strong among F1 circles.
The 2010 team entry list is scheduled to be published by the FIA on June 12th, which is also the target date FOTA laid down as a deadline for an agreement to be reached between the member teams, the FIA, and the commercial rights holder, FOM.
The nine FOTA teams filed their conditional entries for the 2010 season as a whole package, meaning that they must either be accepted or rejected as one entity and not on a case-by-case basis. If no agreement can be reached, the FOTA bosses will be looking at their options inside Ė or outside Ė Formula One.
"If our entries are rejected, what is going to happen? I think that within FOTA we need to sit down and discuss the situation," said Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali. "But we really want to find a solution."
Toyota's John Howett prefers to find a common solution as well, but at the same time he cannot avoid considering other alternatives: "I would confirm that weíre not bluffing and I donít mean that as a threat."
"I just think that we just have a sincere, simple, straightforward position which we believe is correct for stabilising the future of Formula One," Howett pointed out. "From our side, it isnít power politics or war."
"We believe that common sense will prevail and I think that should the entries be rejected, as Stefano mentioned, we need to sit down and discuss the next steps," Howett said.
"We do have a number of scenarios and scenario planning and the worst case scenario would be to have to establish our own series, but I think FOTA has a list of scenarios based on the reaction and how the response of the Federation moves forward."
Renault boss Flavio Briatore spoke of his frustration regarding the whole situation: "For us itís a surprise why itís so difficult. On my side, we donít understand why itís so difficult."
"From day one, FOTA was never aggressive with anybody. We just want to participate in the championship, we want to cut costs, we want to have clear rules, we want to have a governance," he explained. "We need a Formula One Commission, we need to make all the decision-setting together for the good of the sport, for the good of Formula One."
Briatore insisted that beyond setting the basis of a comprehensive cost-reduction plan, there is the question of saving the industry itself and the jobs that are part of it.
"Weíre not bluffing because when you have the responsibility of three or four hundred people, itís not bluffing," he underlined. "Youíre not bluffing when you are putting on the line so many employees between everybody."
"As I say, we donít want any war, we want stability in order to have a long term Formula One engagement. This is what we want. We donít want anything special, we just want stability, just stability," Briatore declared.
Speaking of FOTA, Ferrari's Domenicali elaborated: "It is an entity that is here to make sure that itís working properly, with the FIA, with FOM, for the benefit of motorsport, and this is the way that we are approaching this, all the members, all together, in that respect."
"Once we have a stable governance and a stable platform I think we can significantly improve the sport for the benefit of all the stakeholders," Toyota Team Principal John Howett said. "And thatís purely and simply the intention of FOTA."