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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Formula One drivers to form a new series

The future of Formula One is in the balance after a number of teams confirmed they are to form a breakaway series, sparking the greatest upheaval in the sport's 60-year history..

The shock announcement came after a meeting of the eight rebel teams which make up the Formula One Teams' Association - Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, BMW Sauber, Toyota, Brawn GP, Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso - during which they all made it clear they will not sign up unconditionally for the 2010 season.

The meeting was sparked by the continuing deadlock in talks with FIA president Max Mosley over controversial budget cap proposals.

In a sharply worded statement that pointed accusing fingers at the FIA and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, FOTA said: "The FIA and the commercial rights holder (Ecclestone) have campaigned to divide FOTA.

"The wishes of the majority of the teams are ignored. Furthermore, tens of millions of dollars have been withheld from many teams by the commercial rights holder, going back as far as 2006. Despite this, and the uncompromising environment, FOTA has genuinely sought compromise.

"It has become clear, however, the teams cannot continue to compromise on the fundamental values of the sport and have declined to alter their original conditional entries to the 2010 world championship.

"These teams, therefore, have no alternative other than to commence the preparation for a new championship which reflects the values of its participants and partners."

Mr Mosley unilaterally announced the introduction of a voluntary £40 million budget cap at the end of April without consulting the teams, most notably Ferrari.

It was his publish-and-be-damned attitude to push forward his plans that has angered the teams, and despite hours of negotiations to resolve the furore, it has culminated in the greatest rift to strike F1 since the championship began in 1950.

However, whilst FOTA have now confirmed their intention to stage a breakaway series, actual implementation is another matter and the teams will have to tackle a number of issues in order to succeed - including a major legal wrangle involving Ferrari which could last months.

by the press association

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