Breakaway F1 championships still an option

Formula One teams have warned that while progress had been made towards ending the sport’s internal turmoil, a breakaway championship remains an option.

“We still don’t have an agreement although I would say we are making progress, slowly but steadily. But we cannot sit back and wait,” BMW-Sauber’s Mario Theissen told reporters at the German Grand Prix.

“We have to keep all options open, and that means we have to look at the other course as well.”

Toyota motorsport president John Howett, FOTA’s vice-chairman, said the breakaway threat remained alive.

“I don’t think we’ve ever taken it away. We’ve just put it on the backburner,” he added.

The teams were responding to a statement by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) that a new commercial agreement to end the threat of a rival series could be ready within days.

“At present, it seems probable that a final draft of the 2009 Concorde Agreement will be agreed and ready for signature in the coming days,” the FIA had said.

Theissen felt that was optimistic.

The statement was issued after technical directors of the eight Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) members walked out of a meeting with the FIA at the German Grand Prix circuit on Wednesday after being told they could only be observers to proceedings.

The FIA had maintained that the five non-FOTA teams, including three newcomers due to enter next year, were the only ones fully confirmed for 2010 at present because the others had still to sign a new commercial agreement.

The walkout triggered fears that a deal agreed between FOTA and the FIA in Paris last month, already looking fragile after FIA president Max Mosley accused teams of dancing prematurely on his grave, could fall apart.

Mosley’s agreed departure in October, when his term of office expires, has been seen as a key element of the deal but the Briton has hinted he could stand again.

A new Concorde Agreement would bind all the teams to Formula One to at least the end of 2012.

“The teams are very close to finding an agreement with the commercial rights holder regarding a new Concorde Agreement,” said Red Bull’s Christian Horner.

“Obviously, there is a bit of turbulence at the moment with the FIA and I’m hoping common sense will prevail and ultimately we can find a solution very shortly.”

Despite the walkout from the technical working group on Wednesday, the FIA said the five entered teams had confirmed the changes agreed with FOTA at the Paris meeting on June 24.

The FIA said it had received a new 350-page Concorde Agreement document on June 25.
After extensive legal work on this, another version was then presented and further drafts circulated.

“Further significant progress was made yesterday evening in yet another conference call,” the governing body added.

The FIA revealed that the Williams team had been architects of a proposal, accepted by FOTA, to shelve a planned budget cap in favour of an agreement to reduce costs to the level of the early 1990s by the end of 2011.

“This would be a private, legally-enforceable contract involving all the teams, but not the FIA,” it added.—Reuters

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