Now, Red Bull and Ferrari have both issued a formal statement to confirm that they are leaving FOTA, and the attitude of the two teams is perhaps best summed up by their statements.
In the case of Ferrari, they have issued a lengthy formal statement reiterating their support for Whitmarsh as head of FOTA, and for the resource restriction agreement (and have even said that they are prepared to see it extended to cover engine manufacturers like themselves), but pointing out that they feel that the negotiations between the member teams of FOTA are going nowhere and are essentially a stalemate. Added to that, they've highlighted their frustration at not being able to hold formal in season tests, particularly for young drivers (i.e. they want more test sessions along the lines of the Abu Dhabi Young Drivers test).
Finally, and this seems to be another key sticking point, Ferrari are pushing for greater prominence and technical freedom for the engines in F1, for more road relevant technology, and a reduction in the importance of aerodynamics - whereas one would have to assume that Red Bull have been happy to keep things just as they are (i.e. with them dominating the sport). http://adamcooperf1.com/2011/12/02/ferr ... eave-fota/
As for Red Bull, their statement is a lesson in brevity - here it is in its entirety:
http://adamcooperf1.com/2011/12/02/red- ... st-saving/
“Red Bull Racing can confirm it has served notice to withdraw from FOTA (Formula One Teams Association). The team will remain committed to finding a solution regarding cost saving in Formula One.”
I have to admit, the first poster replying to Adam Cooper's post may be onto something when he points out that Red Bull have only agreed to "finding a solution" to cutting costs - which doesn't necessarily commit the team to actually agreeing with those restrictions...
DanielPT wrote:This cannot be good. Not in the short term (the concorde expires next year), neither in the long term (after all, we are in crisis!).
1- Bernie must be opening a few bottles of the most expensive champagne in the world. He fought for this and having the teams together meant bad news for him. Now that this will not happen, teams will lose their leverage with Bernie and perhaps end up with some bad deal.
2- Related with the previous point. This might not be bad for Ferrari though. They are seen as the team in F1 and receive for it. Perhaps they were facing the end of this era and thought they would get a better deal out of it alone. Who knowns if they were promised something by leaving FOTA?
3- This can only mean the RRA abandon. Now that Red Bull will decidely not comply with the cost reduction and Ferrari, well, were perhaps part of those who started rumours about RBR failling to cost-cutting, saw their chance to back down from the deal and perhaps win some competitiveness in the process by further expenditure. Expect FOTA to crumble in the next few weeks then.
Anyway, if this means that we are now at risk of falling through this slippery slope is hard to foresee. For the weaker teams, it is easy to conlcude that this is a disaster. Ferrari with their dreams of grids filled with Ferraris and RBR only interested in keeping themselves competitive cannot possibly know what is best for the sport.
Totally agree. The only way FOTA and the RRA will hold is if the other teams hold their line. If so, there is a chance (but only a chance) that Ferrari and RBR will fall back in line. But, well, if HRT can survive without being part of FOTA, well...
To a certain extent HRT's withdrawal from FOTA was, albeit a touch awkward for both sides, nevertheless of limited significance - HRT is not in a position to spark off a spending war, given they barely have enough funding as it is, their economic and political clout within the sport is insignificant, and to a certain extent you wonder if the team was even all that interested in being part of FOTA anyway (I do not recall HRT making any comments supporting FOTA, the RRA or indeed anything that the other teams were doing to cut costs before their withdrawal from FOTA).
As for Bernie, I do not think that he'll be opening any champagne just yet - for the next two months Red Bull and Ferrari will still be part of FOTA and have to abide by their rules, and with Mercedes and McLaren holding a private meeting with Ferrari and Red Bull, they may yet find enough common ground for both teams to reverse their decisions. He'll be happy to see FOTA crumble and the leverage of the teams diminish, but for now he might well be content to sit on the sidelines and watch the teams argue amongst themselves until FOTA has definitely collapsed.
Besides, there are suggestions from some quarters that negotiations on the new Concorde Agreement could not take place until next year anyway, given existing terms in the current Concorde Agreement to prevent either the teams or FOM approaching each other before that point. Of course, I do not discount the possibility that, like in the past, FOM have indicated that they will give much more favourable terms to those parties on their side if they defect, and managed to keep things quiet, but news of a deal of that kind would almost certainly have been leaked by somebody (probably FOM, because it would sow considerably mistrust and doubt amongst FOTA), yet nothing of the sort appears to have come to the fore just yet.
As far as FOM are concerned, it is in their best interests to wait and see what happens - as others have pointed out, there is a sizeable chance that Red Bull and Ferrari, for diametrically opposed ideas on engines and aerodynamics, are trying to call the bluff of the rest of FOTA and push them into making changes that favour them. There is going to be plenty more to come on this, I feel, and for now things are not yet clear enough to discern how this will pan out...