Bernie Ecclestone, the F1 commercial rights holder, has grabbed centre stage in the dispute between Ferrari and the FIA by predicting that there was a way of solving the problem which threatens to see the legendary Italian team withdrawing from the world championship at the end of this season after a record of unbroken participation since 1950.
“The key to F1 is Ferrari,” said Ecclestone as Renault also announced it would be joining Ferrari in not contesting the 2010 title battle unless the FIA modified its so-called ‘budget cap’ regulations which, the teams believe, will produce an unacceptable ‘two tier’ F1 structure.
Ecclestone continued: “They(Ferrari) have been there for 60 years. They are partners of ours. They are the people we need to take into consideration. At the moment everybody is hanging on to their apron strings. Sort that out and we will be OK.”
However, the FIA believes that more technical freedom to those who agree to compete under the rules limiting annual expenditure to £40m is the only way to attract new teams into the F1 business. Yet the dissenting teams – currently Ferrari, Renault, Toyota, Red Bull and Toro Rosso – are also furious with what they regard as the FIA’s lack of consultation over the implementation of the new rules.
“There is frustration,” said Renault in a statement. “FOTA’s (Formula One Teams’ Association) constructive proposals, including major cost-saving measures to be adopted between 2009 and 2012, have been ignored without any consultation by the FIA with the teams.”