NURBURGRING // A new commercial agreement to end the threat of a breakaway Formula One series could be ready within days, the governing body suggested today. "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 International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement headed "Setting the Record Straight".
The document was published 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 complete 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 could fall apart, with FOTA warning in a statement on Wednesday that the sport's future was in jeopardy. A new Concorde Agreement would bind all the teams to Formula One to at least the end of 2012. The FIA statement said Max Mosley, president of the governing body, had twice written to Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo to "remind him" that any amendments to the 2010 regulations had to be approved unanimously by non-FOTA teams.
"The entered teams have a contract with the FIA which not even the general assembly or world council can abrogate," the statement said. "Anyone with an elementary knowledge of motorsport governance knows this. Imagine the uproar if, after the FOTA teams had entered, the world council were subsequently to change the rules without asking them." The FIA said it was "quite simply untrue" to suggest that FOTA had been made aware only during the meeting that the agreement of the other five teams was necessary.
Despite the walkout from the technical working group in the afternoon, after a sporting working group meeting in the morning, the FIA said the five entered teams had confirmed changes agreed at the Paris meeting on June 24. The governing body said FOTA had also agreed in Paris to extend the 1998 Concorde Agreement with some minor amendments regarding governance. Instead, the FIA said it had received a new 350-page 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 statement 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.