So what now?

Another day, another development in the ever evolving mess that is Formula 1.

Yesterday’s news that FOTA intended to establish its own championship was met in the afternoon with the FIA’s own news that it intended to launch legal proceedings against the rebel alliance.

Their statement read:

“The FIA’s lawyers have now examined the FOTA threat to begin a breakaway series. The actions of FOTA as a whole, and Ferrari in particular, amount to serious violations of law including wilful interference with contractual relations, direct breaches of Ferrari’s legal obligations and a grave violation of competition law. The FIA will be issuing legal proceedings without delay.

“Preparations for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship continue but publication of the final 2010 entry list will be put on hold while the FIA asserts its legal rights.”

This statement is a fascinating one, and shows us perhaps for the first time that Max Mosley and the FIA is now on the back foot. As soon as FOTA announced its intentions to establish a rival championship, many of us expected the FIA to march forwards with its 2010 plans and to release an entry list for next season which included USF1, Campos, Manor, Williams, Force India, Ferrari, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and two extra new entries. That publication of this list has been delayed is the first signal of stalling.

Yes, with the announcement that this whole debate has gone legal, the issuing of the list was unthinkable, but in launching legal proceedings the FIA has at least bought itself some time… time to negotiate, time to reflect and time, ever so importantly, to save Formula 1.

The World Council will meet next week and there are differing views on what could happen when it convenes. Some areas of the paddock think that Max Mosley will suffer a heavy defeat in a vote of no confidence. Some think he will stand aside. Others believe he will hang on, defiant to the last. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is the latter.

The teams have reiterated that this argument isn’t about deposing Mosley. He, meanwhile, claims that the FOTA teams are trying to wrestle the governance of the sport out of the FIA’s hands and to steal Bernie Ecclestone’s business from under him.

The truth is somewhere in between.

The sport requires clear and transparent governance. It demands a fairer distribution of income. Both of these are essential for its future, but if either is to be achieved there will have to be casualties. And the longer this goes on, the greater that list could become.

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