The Formula 1 Teams' Association members finally submitted their entries for the 2010 world championship today, with a number of conditions.
A FOTA statement released this afternoon revealed that the entries were contingent on a new Concorde Agreement being signed by June 12 - the date on which the 2010 entry list will be revealed - and the FIA accepting the rules amendments proposed by the team's association.
AUTOSPORT spoke to FOTA Vice Chairman John Howett about whether peace is about to break out in F1, the changes they want to see for next year and what happens if their proposals are not accepted.
Q. You have now submitted your conditional entries?
John Howett: We have submitted one - all nine teams who are currently members of FOTA.
Q. It's on the basis that Concorde is signed on June 12 and the regulations are amended by the FIA - have you made good progress towards getting this agreed?
JH: I'm not sure that it is. It's just the clear position of the teams.
Q. What response have you had from the FIA?
JH: So far, I'm not sure a lot. There have been some informal discussions on the technical content on 2010 but I don't think as yet we've had a formal acknowledgement.
Q. What amendments are you looking for for the 2010 regulations - obviously you're looking for reduced costs without the budget cap?
JH: Yes. There are a whole number of constructive proposals. It's quite a comprehensive document and it's probably not appropriate to comment. It's gone through the TRWG (Technical Regulations Working Group) and it's proposed that it's discussed at the FIA technical working group with Charlie Whiting and then considered. But it is a fairly comprehensive package.
Q. So it's built around the previous FOTA proposals including allowing certain non-performance differentiator control parts?
JH: It's along those lines, definitely. And certain material restrictions on certain activities which genuinely control costs and delete waste, if you like, from the process. I believe and the FOTA members believe we will have a great series.
Q. Is the budget cap, or whatever it is called, is still under discussion for 2011. What's FOTA's position on that?
JH: FOTA has reached a very concrete agreement among the members on a very constructive method of reducing costs. But I don't think at the moment that there's any discussion of a budget cap.
Q. So you see the 2011 regulation as being up for discussion at a later date?
JH: The governance should be effectively managed under the Concorde agreement so we would expect a correct governance process that would ensure that regulatory change is managed in a very constructive and positive way in the future and that the regulations are very stable and developed in a good way for the sport.
Q. Will there be concessions for any new teams that come in for 2010?
JH: From the point of view of FOTA, there are two issues. The first issue is we believe that everybody has to compete under the same rules. Secondly, I don't believe that anybody objects to new teams joining the series. Considerable efforts have been made to reduce the costs of leasing engines and transmissions. That's been reduced by more than 50% in a period of 18 months. There are many effective measures to support teams and reduce the cost of access and entry to Formula 1.
Q. Are you confident of seeing a Concorde Agreement signed by everyone in the next two weeks?
JH: We have been working for more than six months on the agreement with the commercial rights holder so it's not as if the document isn't at a really mature stage with a large number of the gaps totally reduced. Fundamentally, we wouldn't see any reason why it couldn't be. It really is a professional and balanced document. Maybe there's a reluctance to sign it, but I personally wouldn't see any good reason to enter into the agreement in the interests of all parties.
Q. Does the point we're at now represent a real chance of bringing the argument over 2010 to a close?
JH: I really don't know. It depends on how open minded everyone is. When you really look at the actual proposal it's very concrete, it's very constructive.
Q. Is there anything in the proposal regarding 2011?
JH: Nothing. Among FOTA members there is a clear vision of the future, but the current situation is we've proposed the revisions for 2010 derived from the existing sporting and technical regulations and there is a clear intention to sign the Concorde Agreement which will stabilise the entire sport. Once we've achieved that, we can immediately start to discuss how to work on integrating constructively new entrants and what level of support would be extended to them. The less change, the lower the impact on costs.
Q. Does this make any difference to the suspension by FOTA of Williams?
JH: I don't think it changes the situation. Ours' is a conditional entry, pre-requisite on conditions being satisfied. As far as I'm aware, Williams have entered the championship under the published regulations as a cost-capped team.
Q. What happens now - is there an FIA meeting scheduled?
JH: No. We're waiting to see what the reaction will be.
Q. If the FIA rejects this, what happens then?
JH: Obviously, I can't comment on behalf of the other teams. It would be necessary to have another executive meeting but a number of us feel that unless the actual conditions are satisfied then we have to consider seriously alternatives.
Q. Can you see everything being agreed by June 12?
JH: That's the date on which the accepted entrants are published by the FIA.
Q. Are you confident that this will be the resolution?
JH: If you look at the press release, we're all looking to working collaboratively and proactively with the FIA and to really stop all of this political positioning and focusing on improving the sport. That's what FOTA is really proven to do this year, with more availability of drivers, trying to improve TV coverage, more telemetry data.
We just want to compete on an even playing field, we are all capable of managing our businesses constructively, we're all open to discuss on how we can integrate new entrants in a professional and correct way. The one thing that's always missed is that we need to grow the cake and we need to understand how much of the remainder of the revenue is re-invested in the sport.
Q. How are the negotiations with the commercial rights holder?
JH: As far as I am aware there were three or four minor issues that they considered needed to be resolved and frankly I think most of those were put out of the way in Monaco. From the commercial side, it shouldn't take more than three or four days to resolve the issues.
Q. Is there provision for third cars for junior drivers in the FOTA proposal?
JH: I don't think it's in the proposal, but we've always extended it to the FIA and the commercial rights holder that if there was a concern and they wanted a commitment to operate additional cars a large number of teams were very willing to do that.
Q. Are you looking to encourage the new teams to come in in 2011?
JH: I don't think there's any objection from FOTA to new teams entering. It needs to be discussed constructively how we managed it. There are teams, like Williams, who are very strong on the issue that it is a Constructors' Championship and they have historically been against customer cars. There are still issues where we need to find sensible solutions that satisfy a number of the entrants.