F1 politics-watchers will be intrigued to read the news today that Williams have become the first of the current teams to confirm that they have submitted an entry for the 2010 season. This is an embarrassment for Fota, as it makes mincemeat of the organisation’s President’s assertion — which was only made on Friday — that none of the current teams would enter unless the FIA promised to change the 2010 technical regulations.
Indeed, Luca di Montezemolo practically made it the defining policy of Fota. It must be disconcerting for him to see that already one Fota member has undermined this.
The Williams team’s explanation is interesting though. Their CEO, Adam Parr, has gone out of his way to point out that Williams is still fully aligned with Fota:
The unity of FOTA is of paramount importance to Williams. Yesterday we joined the other members of FOTA in writing to the FIA (International Automobile Federation) to request a continuing effort to find a compromise concerning the regulations for 2010.
We believe that under the leadership of (Ferrari president Luca) di Montezemolo and (Toyota motorsport president) 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.
But explaining the team’s decision to enter the 2010 Championship, contrary to Fota policy, Mr Parr has essentially said that Williams felt that it had no option but to enter the 2010 World Championship:
Williams has — and has always maintained — that we have a binding contract with both FOM (Ecclestone’s Formula One Management) and the FIA to participate in the world championship from 2008 to 2010.
Presumably if Williams has a binding contract, so do other teams. I assume the binding contract is the Concorde Agreement. In a way, therefore, it is unsurprising that it is the manufacturer-backed teams who are standing up to the FIA the most. Williams can’t really afford to breach a contract. But manufacturers have enough money — economic downturn or not — to buy their way out, just as Honda essentially did.
But if it is the case that all these F1 teams are contractually obliged to participate in the World Championship in 2010, why is the FIA asking them all to re-enter?