No Movement: Budget Cap Stays.

cash money

FIA and FOTA financial representatives met yesterday to discuss the voluntary 2010 Budget Cap which sits at the base of the issue of a two-tier F1… the one that caused all of these arguments in the first place.

The news coming out of the meeting however, is not good.

An FIA Statement, released this morning, reads as follows:

As agreed at the meeting of 11 June, FIA financial experts met yesterday with financial experts from FOTA.

Unfortunately, the FOTA representatives announced that they had no mandate to discuss the FIA’s 2010 financial regulations. Indeed, they were not prepared to discuss regulation at all.

As a result, the meeting could not achieve its purpose of comparing the FIA’s rules with the FOTA proposals with a view to finding a common position.

In default of a proper dialogue, the FOTA financial proposals were discussed but it became clear that these would not be capable of limiting the expenditure of a team which had the resources to outspend its competitors. Another financial arms race would then be inevitable.

The FIA Financial Regulations therefore remain as published.

This news will come as a great disappointment to those hoping for peace, as just yesterday an FIA statement reported that the objectives of FOTA and the FIA on cost reduction were now very closely aligned. A resolution on the issue seemed imminent and yesterday’s meeting between the bodies could, and arguably should, have resolved at least this one issue.

FOTA’s reluctance to discuss the FIA’s regulations and debate instead only their own proposals means that a golden opportunity to make an important inroad into the political debacle that threatens to rip the sport apart at the seams has been thrown away.

Such a move by FOTA seems to add credence to the FIA’s suggestions that there are elements within FOTA that are trying to derail the peace process.

Their statement yesterday, regarding a meeting between the FIA and FOTA on the eve of the 2010 entry publication stated:

The FIA believed it had participated in a very constructive meeting with a large measure of agreement. The FIA was therefore astonished to learn that certain FOTA members not present at the meeting have falsely claimed that nothing was agreed and that the meeting had been a waste of time. There is clearly an element in FOTA which is determined to prevent any agreement being reached regardless of the damage this may cause to the sport.

This is a view shared by Bernie Ecclestone, who has gone as far as to name names in this week’s Auto Motor und Sport in Germany.

“Flavio Briatore wants to create a new series and decide everything,” the F1 supremo said.

“Luca di Montezemolo [FOTA President] has a problem with the FIA president. With John Howett [FOTA Vice-President], I wonder: what does he want? I’m not even sure he knows himself. Everyone else just wants it all to stop so they can concentrate on the sport once again.”

So what is FOTA’s game? Are they really prepared to take this all the way to the brink and to set up their own championship?

At the moment there is a lot of talk about the future of Formula 1, and that the current political mess is threatening to break it apart and potentially kill the sport we love.

Some blame the FIA and Max Mosley. Others are increasingly growing tired of FOTA’s stubborn position.

One thing that cannot be denied however is that, as things stand today, it is the FIA that is appearing to be making itself open to negotiation while FOTA is not. And if the factions within FOTA that the FIA claims are trying to disrupt the resolution of the crisis are indeed, as Ecclestone claims, those in whose hands the leadership of FOTA resides, it looks increasingly unlikely that any agreement will be reached by Friday.

And if that is the case, then the split that nobody wants may be the reality that we all get.

The lie of the land

So… a lot’s happened since my last post.

To be completely frank, with everything that started kicking off on Friday it seemed like a much better idea to let all the news wash in via email and on the ipod touch, and just sit by the canal with a beer, enjoying the British summertime.

As soon as the list was out, it was obvious that the war wasn’t over. Not by a long shot. So Friday was a day to chill out and and sit back and watch as all the statements and press releases came out.

Now, in the clear light of day, it’s become possible to take an overview of the situation… and once again it’s Max Mosley and the FIA that have come out on top.

The entry list released on Friday is a very clever ploy by Mosley. USF1 was no real shock, but the inclusion of Manor, and to a lesser extent Campos, was a surprise, particularly as the likes of Prodrive and Lola were not entered for 2010. Believed to have been two of the favourites, their non inclusion really was a shock.

As expected, Williams and Force India got their entries, and so too were Ferrari and the two Red Bull teams included on the list due to their specific contracts with the FIA to run in F1 until 2012. The other FOTA teams have until Friday to drop their conditions and enter. Ferrari and the Red Bull teams have sworn solidarity with their FOTA brothers.

So once again, the FIA has the upper hand. Once again it’s up to FOTA to make the concessions.

Mosley offered FOTA as much of an olive branch as he could last week, and they rejected it point blank. By doing so they now appear to be moving more and more out of touch. The fans don’t want the politics to ruin the racing, and with Mosley offering routes out and FOTA failing to take them, it remains to be seen how much longer fan sympathies rest with FOTA.

By standing firm Mosley’s position at the FIA is perhaps stronger now than at any point in the last decade. He is the man who has stood up for the FIA’s authority against the might of the manufacturers. To the FIA he’s a hero, and one whose re-election is now in little doubt. If FOTA wanted to make this about governance, all they have done is cement Mosley’s Presidency.

But back to the list for a minute… We can possibly expect Red Bull, Brawn and potentially McLaren to capitulate to the FIA’s demands this week as the three of them are teams that exist to race, not to sell cars. There’s every chance that by the new June 19th deadline only the auto manufacturers will remain in FOTA.

Mosley also knows that there’s a very real chance that two of those manufacturers will pull out at the end of 2009 anyway. So even if two out of the four manufacturers do drop their conditions, there could still be two free spaces in F1. At the most there will be four.

That leaves a large hole, but one that could easily be filled by Lola, Prodrive, Lotus Lite or N Technology. By keeping the trump cards of Lola and Prodrive in his pocket, Mosley has perhaps given us the strongest indication yet that he knows we will lose at least two F1 teams at the end of the season, because by keeping two of the strongest entries in his pocket, he holds the upper hand in the negotiations over the future direction of the sport.

So it’s not over yet. Ohhhh no.

The next challenge will be for FOTA to remain united. We’ve got another fascinating five days ahead.

One Day to Go

5 new teams

With just one day left until the FIA announces the 2010 Formula 1 World Championship team line-up, it’s anyone’s guess how things are going to work out.

The events of the last few days however have given us some insight into the political games, still afoot in Formula 1.

The relative silence with which the FIA had been dealing with FOTA following its conditional application for entry in 2010 was finally broken when Max Mosley wrote to the FOTA teams telling them that he understood that they were unhappy with the 2010 regulations. Their conditional entry however was no way to deal with this. If they didn’t like the rules, the best way to influence a change, said Mosley, was from the inside. He was willing to talk, and willing to amend the rules, but it couldn’t be done via a conditional entry. Enter the championship unconditionally, said Max, and we will work together in the correct fashion to amend the regulations.

It was an olive branch. Or as close to one as we were ever going to get.

Mosley wanted the remaining eight teams to enter unconditionally by Tuesday night. Suffice to say, they did not.

Max Mosley was never going to capitulate to FOTA’s demands, and his giving of an olive branch was a positive step in the right direction. FOTA’s reaction was said to have been “not entirely negative” but their conditions for entry, including the signing of a new Concorde Agreement by midnight tonight, are still in place.

So why can’t the teams agree to join and change the rules the right way? From within?

Yes, for them this is about governance, but they are also worried about the budget cap. That cap is here to stay, but if they do not include themselves within the decision making process, how can they possibly hope to influence the level at which it is set? At the moment they are on the outside looking in. They will make no real difference until they are back on the inside.

The budget cap is not, I must stress, a simple bargaining tool. I have seen, at first hand, the FIA’s Cost Cap Handbook and its two Appendices. They are enormous documents covering every conceivable possibility and eventuality of a budget cap. If FOTA want us to believe that the FIA is only using this Budget Cap as a political tool, they have got another thing coming. The FIA has got this Cost Cap worked out, and it is very, very serious about it. The Handbook is proof evident of this.

So FOTA and the FIA are still at loggerheads. But where does that leave us for tomorrow.

If my sources are correct, we are likely to see FIVE new teams unveiled tomorrow. My money would be on USF1, Prodrive, Lola and two others… to my mind the most likely being Brabham (Formtech), and either Campos or Lotus Lite.

Brabham is being set up on the remnants of Super Aguri, and if one team knew how to develop smart cars under a tight budget… it was Super Aguri. The double decker diffuser? Yep, that was an SAF1 concept, taken to Honda when Super Ag went tits up and Honda did the smart thing and employed all the clever bods at Leafield who’d turned a year old Honda into a better car than its replacement. There are some in the F1 paddock who are calling Button’s BGP01 the SA09 and claiming that if Super Aguri hadn’t been run into the ground, Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson might well be leading the world championship right now. It’s not as silly as it sounds.

But I digress.

Brabham / Formtech’s credentials are pretty good, then.

Adrian Campos is a guy I’ve known for some time and I don’t believe for a moment that he would have entered his name unless he had the budget and the ability to make this thing work. With two F1 races in Spain, a Spanish team is not such a shabby idea. And if anyone can make it work, I think Adrian may just be that man.

And Lotus Lite? If we’re being brutally honest, Litespeed really are not much cop in F3 terms, but with Mike Gascoyne on board you’ve got to take them seriously… and there’s a buzz in the F1 paddock that they might actually have a shot… and a budget! Lotus cars have said they’re not a part of the entry, so it’s just the Lotus GP name. But it’s an iconic name, and one that could attract the sponsors.

Oh, if only fag adverts were still allowed. I don’t know an F1 fan alive that wouldn’t love to see a JPS Lotus in F1 next year. And while we’re on the subject of sponsors, if Brabham get in, I’m praying for a Martini title sponsorship.

Anyway, what this all means is that, if my sources are correct and five new teams are announced, two existing F1 teams will not make the cut.

There are stories doing the rounds today that the Renault F1 Team has informed its suppliers that it should not rely on business with the team to continue in 2010. It is further indication that the French manufacturer is seriously questioning its continued involvement in Formula 1.

One might also question whether Dietrich Mateschitz will still be willing to pay for two F1 teams. Toro Rosso is up for sale, and he may wish to sell on the Faenza base and cars to a new F1 entry.

Toyota are also said to be wobbling, although speaking to John Howett in Turkey he seemed to be adamant that the team were not going anywhere.

One thing that isn’t going anywhere is negotiation over the Concorde Agreement. The FOTA teams, as part of their conditional entry, made it very, very clear that if there was no Concorde there would be no entry from the FOTA teams.

With just hours to go until FOTA’s self-imposed deadline for Concorde to be signed, their tough stance may yet see their entry conditions broken before the 2010 announcement is even made.

Whether Max will even take any notice of their conditions however, remains to be seen. The next 36 hours will be fascinating.

An interesting Rumour in Turkey

I’ve just heard a very, very interesting rumour in the Istanbul Park paddock.

Following a morning meeting of FOTA and their respective team drivers, a decision has apparently been reached to boycott this afternoon’s race. Yep, it’ll be Indianapolis 2005 all over again.

The rumour says that at the end of the formation lap, all 16 FOTA cars will pull into the pits and pull out of the event. By running the formation lap, they may not have fallen foul of their contract to take part in the event. The governing statutes are unclear on this point.

That will then leave us with four cars – the Williamses of Rosberg and Nakajima and the Force Indias of Sutil and Fisichella.

But is it actually going to happen? Right now we just don’t know. After submitting their block entry, FOTA doesn’t really have any cards left to play in its war with Max Mosley and the FIA over the 2010 regulations… save for boycotting a race, and giving fans of Formula 1 a potential vision of how the sport would look if the FOTA teams pulled out.

Could this be the final card in FOTA’s hand; the last play of the match? With no Bernie Ecclestone and no Max Mosley in Istanbul, there’s not even anyone, save Alan Donnely, to mediate.

With empty grandstands and its future already in doubt, the Turkish Grand Prix is almost the perfect place to pull off such a stunt.

With under two hours until the race is set to get underway, this rumour is gathering pace with every minute.

While many consider it hugely unlikely, it still might not be a bad idea to have a small punt on Nico Rosberg for the race win.

Is the Alliance Crumbling?

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It’s official then, Force India has capitulated and put in a late, unconditional entry to the 2010 Formula 1 World Championship.

Cue the wrath of FOTA, their impending suspension of Force India from the soon-to-be gang of eight, and no doubt a fair few extra statements and arguments over the weekend.

To be honest, Force India’s decision comes as little surprise. The team itself has, just as Williams before it, claimed that it still fully supports FOTA’s position, but that it has been forced to enter on its own due to “commercial obligations.” The question in the media centre had been of whom and when the next FOTA team would split from the umbrella body as the June 12th announcement of the 2010 grid draws ever closer. And now, with Force India’s unconditional entry and FOTA’s position once again compromised, the questions have moved on to who will join them.

The favourites are Brawn, then Red Bull (one or both fizzy drink teams) and McLaren. It is perfectly possible that, in the not too distant future, FOTA will be left with but four members.

The real problem for FOTA in all this is that it has played its hand. In making its block entry and applying conditions it has no further cards left to play. The position of strength now rests almost exclusively with Max Mosley and the FIA.

He knows it. FOTA knows it. And now we all know it, too.

Because if FOTA’s position really was as strong as they’d like us to believe, they wouldn’t be losing members. They’d remain as one, strongly committed to the cause, sure in their stance and in their belief that they would ultimately win the war.

But with every passing day and the continued silence over this entire issue, those teams who rely on Formula 1 for their existence are going to panic. And they are going to do their own thing.

Williams was the first, and Force India has shown its true feelings today. How long we have to wait before they are joined by their racing rivals is uncertain. But it may not be long.

What is perhaps no longer in any doubt however, is that Max Mosley is winning this particular war.

The March F1 Entry

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A few weeks ago, my colleague Adam Hay-Nicholls told me about an April Fools article he’d written, in which he’d reported that the legendary March name was set to make a return to F1. The team was, said the report, to be reborn under the sights of the FIA’s Max Mosley, Alan Donnely, Richard Woods, Charlie Whiting and Herbie Blash. Of course it wasn’t a serious article, but it made me chuckle and was intelligently thought through.

So imagine my surprise when, over the weekend, I see online that March had entered its name for F1 2010. Was Adam having another laugh? Surely this was taking it too far.

Until a few hours ago I had no actual confirmation the rumours were real. But yes, it’s true, March really has entered its name for an incredible return to F1 in 2010.

The March F1 Team entry has been submitted by Andrew Fitton, who took over March in the 1990s following a management buyout.

I spoke to March F1′s Team Principal Graham Manchester earlier today, and although he, as his fellow prospective F1 team bosses can’t say too much before June 12th, he was nevertheless clearly excited about the prospect of bringing the March name back to F1… as much for the entertainment he hopes to display in the sport as for the technical challenge it presents!

“Quite a bit going on already but there is much to do even if we do not receive a F1 entry. March will be moving forward in several directions. High technology engineering and product development is the core business model, but when we know more that involves F1 we will certainly keep you informed.

“We are not getting too excited about it, there is a lot of good competition with considerable experience to be honest and for so seemingly few places. However Formula One is about entertainment for the spectators and TV viewers as much as engineering so a good balance is essential we feel.

“We are keeping an open mind as to what may or may not happen and quite frankly the World being what it is at the moment, anything could, and possibly will happen, but as Max Mosley has apparently said ‘everyone, even independents need to start somewhere’ , Snr Ferrari did, Frank Williams did (with a March I might add)  and possibly there may not be a better time for a while.

“F1 is in one of its ‘States of flux’ which happens now and again, we wait and see.”

March originally came into existence in 1969 as March Engineering, and made the audacious move in 1970 of entering F1, F2, F3, Can Am and Formula Ford as a provider of customer cars. Formed by Max Mosley, Alan Rees, Graham Coaker and Robin Herd, there is clearly a fairly high-profile name amongst its founding fathers who could have some influence in the March entry’s acceptance.

It’s certainly another good name to add to the list of prospective F1 teams for 2010, and given Graham’s insistence that March wants to entertain as much as it wants to compete, there seems a genuinely fresh approach amongst the new teams.

As with all the prospective new entrants: Campos, USF1, Prodrive, Litespeed, Lola and Superfund, I really do wish them well in their bids. New blood in F1 is just what the sport needs.

FOTA Enters as a Block

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I’ve just received a press release from FOTA, stating the following:

All FOTA Teams have today submitted conditional entries for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship.

FOTA confirms all its Members’ long-term commitment to be involved in the FIA Formula One World Championship and has unanimously agreed further and significant actions to substantially reduce the costs of competing in the Championship in the next three years, creating a mechanism that will preserve the technological competition and the sporting challenge and, at the same time, facilitate the entry in the F1 Championship for new Teams. These measures are in line with what has been already decided in 2009 within FOTA, achieving important saving on engines and gearboxes.

All FOTA teams have entered the 2010 championship on the basis that:

1) The Concorde Agreement is signed by all parties before 12th June 2009, after which all FOTA teams will commit to competing in Formula One until 2012. The renewal of the Concorde Agreement will provide security for the future of the sport by binding all parties in a formal relationship that will ensure stability via sound governance.

2) The basis of the 2010 regulations will be the current 2009 regulations, amended in accordance with proposals that FOTA has submitted to the FIA.

All FOTA teams’ entries for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship have been submitted today on the understanding that (a) all FOTA teams will be permitted to compete during the 2010 Formula One Season on an identical regulatory basis and (b) that they may only be accepted as a whole.

All FOTA teams now look forward with optimism to collaborating proactively and productively with the FIA, with a view to establishing a solid foundation on which the future of a healthy and successful Formula One can be built, providing lasting stability and sound governance.

This is an interesting, if not unsurprising development. However what shouldn’t be ignored is that the FIA is yet to comment on FOTA’s proposals and there is absolutely no guarantees that the FIA will amend the 2010 regulations as FOTA wishes. As was reported and correctly predicted in Monday’s GPWeek however, the teams have used the clever option of entering FOTA as a block so that if any conditions are not met, F1 immediately loses nine teams (all existing teams minus Williams.) It also means that if the FIA wants a full grid, it can’t possibly drop one of the existing teams in favour of a new team, as the block entry is for all nine teams as a unit.

The FIA’s response will be very interesting indeed, as FOTA has admitted that it is now ready to do a deal over the Concorde Agreement, something which Bernie Ecclestone will be keen to convince his old friend Max to agree to sooner rather than later.

Today’s the Day

Will iSport and other new teams enter before the midnight deadline?

Will iSport and others enter before the midnight deadline?

This is it then. Friday May 29th. Deadline Day.

The prospective F1 teams of the 2010 championship have just over 12 hours (at the time of writing) to decide whether or not they will submit an entry… new and old teams alike. And if the existing teams are having a tough time making up their minds, just imagine how tough it must be for the new teams.

Let’s imagine for a moment that we are in Paul Jackson’s position. As head of iSport International you have a very tough decision to make. You currently operate a GP2 team on a rough figure of £5 million a season, and you have been working all winter on trying to find the backing to pull your annual budget up to the FIA recommended £30 million for a budget capped F1 entry.

A few weeks ago you were told this figure would rise to £40 million but that, regardless, you would still be afforded certain dispensations if you agreed to fall under that budget cap that would help you compete in Formula 1.

Now you’re not so sure. With just over 12 hours until the deadline for 2010 F1 entries shuts, there is absolutely no guarantee that the regulations as they stand today will stand by the time you enter the sport in 2010. Furthermore you don’t even know if Formula 1 as you know it, the Formula 1 with Ferrari, McLaren, Renault etc, will exist next year. You’ve had your entry mocked by the grandees of the sport and the very suggestion that you might consider putting an entry forward for Formula 1 cast aside as belittling the great name of the sport by some of those team bosses who would be your peers next year.

As the deadline looms, FOTA has apparently made suggestions to the FIA that next season should be run on a 100million Euro budget cap, on the provision of the sharing of technology between the bigger and smaller teams (similar to the current arrangement between McLaren and Force India,) with a budget cap of 45million Euros being brought in for the 2011 season. It’s not quite a reversion to customer cars for next year, but it’s as close as you’re going to get. It’s a one year deal, though. In 2011 you need to build your own car.

So do you risk it? Do you risk running a team on £30-40 million in 2010 when your rivals are spending three times that amount, on the off chance you’ll be able to compete in 2011? Sure, Bernie’s cash incentive will help, but with the financial world in crisis, is this the time to be taking such a huge risk? Afterall, teams like iSport, as teams like Williams, exist only to compete. They don’t make cars to sell them. They make cars to race them.

But maybe this has been FOTA’s plan all along. That by failing to reach a decision, they have effectively shown the FIA it isn’t as powerful as it thinks it is as with so much confusion over the 2010 regulations, there is the possibility that by midnight tonight only USF1, Campos, Williams and, we are hearing this morning, Prodrive-Aston Martin, will have submitted entries for the 2010 championship.

Knowing that it can’t run F1 on four teams, the FIA will have to either extend its deadline for entries, or slap fines on those who enter later on. Perhaps the FIA will be forced into a two-tier penalty scheme, whereby new teams are given a small financial penalty for late entry and those FOTA members who have caused this confusion by their reluctance to accept the FIA’s plans are handed a hefty fine.

Or will the FIA capitulate to FOTA’s suggestions and effectively smash any chance the new teams have got of competing?

Today’s the day when we learn if Max Mosley really is as politically strong-willed as his rhetoric has suggested. Can he really afford to stand up to the manufacturers? Can he really afford to lose them in favour of the promotion of the smaller independents?

If he stands his ground the small teams can not only afford to enter, they can afford to compete. If he capitulates now and gives in to FOTA, not only will the small teams stand no hope at all, but Mosley’s own position of power will have been seriously affected… if not terminally.

Independents to Break FOTA Unity?

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Yesterday’s news that Williams has entered its name for the 2010 Formula 1 World Championship caught many of us unawares. After a weekend of multiple meetings and relative media silence from FOTA representatives the media was, on the whole, fairly convinced that FOTA unity was tight. The teams had written to the FIA demanding the 2010 regulation changes be dropped and, from what I had understood to be true from a number of reliable sources, FOTA was due to enter its name for the 2010 championship as a block unit if their condition of a revision to 2009 regulations was met.

So why the sudden change in position from Williams? If the teams had agreed to make their demands known to Max Mosley and the FIA in writing, in return for the teams agreeing to sign a new Concorde Agreement, has Williams’ entry to the 2010 championship not seriously reduced FOTA’s bargaining position? Furthermore, does the action of Williams not call into serious question the unity of FOTA, and give us a true reflection of the divisions between the manufacturer teams and the independents over the issue of budget caps?

“The unity of FOTA is of paramount importance to Williams,” Williams F1 CEO Adam Parr told Reuters. “Yesterday [Sunday] we joined the other members of FOTA in writing to the FIA to request a continuing effort to find a compromise concerning the regulations for 2010.”

“We believe that under the leadership of di Montezemolo and John Howett, FOTA has extracted some very significant concessions from the FIA. These include not only the procedural aspects of the budget cap but also other elements that will enable the higher budget teams to participate. Having said that, Williams has, and has always maintained, that we have a binding contract with both FOM and the FIA to participate in the world championship from 2008 to 2010.”

“We have been paid in full for our participation and we feel both morally and legally obliged to make it clear that we will participate in Formula One in the future as we have in the past 30 years. We owe this to our employees, our sponsors and the fans, all of whom are affected by statements that the teams may not enter next year’s championship.”

“We will continue to work within FOTA and with FOM and FIA to find a compromise but no one should be in any doubt about our commitment to the FIA F1 world championship.”

Williams has long been known to have been in favour of a budget cap in Formula 1. Indeed, there have been very few public comments from Williams, Brawn or Force India over the past few weeks over the subject of budget caps. Quite simply, it makes an enormous amount of sense for independent F1 teams to agree to the budget cap. They cannot compete forever with the big spending of the auto manufacturers.

A division was always going to occur within FOTA at some point, and Williams’ decision to enter its name for the 2010 championship could yet come to be seen as a pivotal moment in not only the future of FOTA but the future of Formula 1. Williams, in citing its contractual obligations to F1 and in not wishing to let go of its 30 year history in the sport, is drawing a very clear line in the sand, as the team is displaying a position completely at odds to that of Ferrari which is claiming that all deals are off in F1 as the 2010 regulation changes breached Concorde, and that they have no qualms in breaking their 60 year history in F1.

It is widely rumoured that two of the major manufacturers will pull out of F1 regardless of what happens in these negotiations, at the end of 2009. Why then would Williams wish to align itself too heavily with a group whose own members do not even know if they will be around in 2010, if Williams itself is already certain that F1 is where it wants to be next year?

Williams may not be the powerhouse it once was, but its place in Formula 1 is no less important. It is the third most succesful team in F1 history. Its name is as synonimous with the sport as that of Ferrari and McLaren. Indeed, in both historical and emotional terms, Williams falls behind perhaps only those two teams in the heirarchy of Formula 1 public perception.

It’s also worth noting that in the top six most succesful teams in F1 history, only two (Ferrari and Renault) are motor manufacturers. The rest are independents.

Independent teams then have formed a critical part of this sport’s history, and could yet play a decisive role in its future. Williams’ decision to enter for 2010 has seriously weakened FOTA’s position. If they are joined by another independent team over the next few days, FOTA’s bargaining position will be weakened still further, particularly if Williams is joined by the championship-leading BrawnGP team.

Also, don’t rule out McLaren from splitting with FOTA’s bigger picture plan. Already under pressure from the FIA following the lie-gate scandal, Martin Whitmarsh has already claimed today that McLaren is playing peacemaker. The point at which the peacemaker does a deal to save its own skin may not be far away.

What’s in GPWeek This Week?

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The latest issue of GPWeek is online now, bringing you all the news from the worlds of Formula 1, MotoGP and the WRC.

In this week’s issue:

Monaco Grand Prix: All the news and analysis from F1′s most glamorous race of the year.

French GP Future: Ricard to return?

F1 2010: Could new teams be Pantano’s best 2010 shot?

GP2: Grosjean’s smash and grab

MotoGP: All the latest news from Michael Scott including…

Rossi to Ferrari rumours surface again
Edwards to move to WSBK?
Five Minutes with Dani Pedrosa

Rally: All the latest from Rally Italia in Sardinia with Martin Holmes

Llatvala stops Loeb’s domination
Citroen’s WRC future depends on Ford’s presence.
All the news and reports from Rally Italia.

Click on the blogroll now to check out this week’s issue.