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F1 NEWS 

Williams hopeful of no breakaway

Team boss Frank Williams has echoed the belief of FIA president Max Mosley that he believes Formula One is edging closer a solution to avert the threat of a breakaway championship after a series of meetings this week.

Sources have told Autosport-Atlas that Williams was present at a meeting with Mosley, Bernie Ecclestone and BMW's Burkhard Goeschel in Paris on Sunday to try and make progress in bringing the FIA and the manufacturers together to secure Formula One's future.

And following another meeting in London on Monday morning, which also involved Renault boss Flavio Briatore, plus the widespread support for rules changes in the Formula One Commission meeting, Williams has said that he believes there is now a real chance of a unified future.

"The meetings that took place in Paris and the other one before the F1 Commission meeting were important, useful steps towards a harmonious eventual conclusion," Williams told Autosport-Atlas.

"There was a view taken to try and sort out the differences and close the gaps to prevent there being two series because soon there will be (a breakaway) if there is no agreement. And that would be just a disaster for those of us with truly vested interests in F1. It has got to he headed off at the pass, hasn't it?"

Although there seems to be a growing consensus about the future technical regulations for F1, there is still believed to be some differences of opinions between the manufacturers and the sport's governing body about the FIA's ruling over the sport.

In particular, sources close to the talks claim that there remain problems, for example, with the manufacturers' scepticism about the true independence of the FIA's own Court of Appeal and the decision-making process in F1.

Outgoing Minardi boss Paul Stoddart has said he doubts that there is enough common ground yet to believe the breakaway threat is finished - and claims that the rule changes agreed on Monday will actually have done little to ease the situation.

"I think there is a better way and I am not convinced that the manufacturers en masse will see today as a positive step," he told Autosport-Atlas. "That is for them to decide, but my gut feeling is that they won't. And what was not discussed this week was the future beyond 2008.

"I am not convinced at the moment that under the existing regime we have averted the worst possible nightmare from F1 which is two series. I don't think we have done enough towards that.

"We haven't addressed the position of Ferrari in all aspects of the championship, we haven't addressed the independence or not of the Court of Appeal or embodied full dialogue in the way the regulations are designed."

FIA president Max Mosley said immediately after the F1 Commission meeting on Monday that he believed the meetings with the GPMA representatives had been encouraging.

"We have not reached agreement but we have got a lot closer to seeing a way forwards," he said. "So it looks like it will all come together in due course."

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