As the fall-out from the Formula One Team's Association momentous decision to announce its own series for 2010 continues, team principal Ross Brawn explained why his team will join the breakaway series and why he believes it will be a fresh start for grand prix racing. AUTOSPORT was there to hear what he had to say.
Q. Max Mosley has said that when it comes to it the teams will eventually come to their senses and there will only be one championship, would you share this view?
Ross Brawn: No that won't happen, the decision has been made by FOTA. FOTA now has to press ahead with its ideas and plans, we can't wait until January and decide which way it is going to go. As each day passes, and each week passes then the options for a reconciliation will reduce.
Q. Can you explain how you reached the decision to stick with FOTA rather than stay with the FIA aligned teams - given that Bernie Ecclestone guarantees money?
RB: We wanted to race in a championship with these teams in it. We don't think a championship without all the manufacturers is viable, so it's okay going into a championship as Williams and Force India have done, but if the other teams aren't with you then that's not viable either. So to us it's not a viable option, we are staying with FOTA and we are going to try and work out solutions within FOTA for our own championship.
Q. What about your funding for 2010, will it be harder to find funding now that there has been a split?
RB: I think the FOTA organisation will have to support the small teams. They know they can't exist just with manufacturers, so there has to be a structure that supports the small teams as well. I am confident that the structure will be in place and be able to provide funding that teams like mine need.
Q. If the FOTA championship doesn't run under the famous F1 banner will it not be harder for all the teams to find funding from sponsors?
RB: I think they are confident that their sponsors are going to follow them into this championship, they have obviously had discussions with their sponsors and they are confident. I think a lot of people see this as an exciting new opportunity. Perhaps a way to reshape F1 in a different way.
Q. Have you sorted out the technical regulations for the formula yet?
RB: No. Those meetings start next week and we will arrive at a technical specification that we think offers the best racing and is cost effective. Things start next week and we will start to put some more detail to the proposal.
Q. Has KERS been a blind alley?
RB: It was an initiative with good intent, but I think in this economic climate, it would seem sensible to put it on hold at least until things improve. It doesn't appear to be something which has improved racing, it's not a terribly exciting technical challenge - certainly not for people like myself - and it's had a vast amount of money spent on it. It's not been a great success so far.
Maybe in a more buoyant climate it could continue. I think the FIA's idea is to keep increasing the value of KERS to make it more competitive. Of course this is another grievance the teams have, because then there is more money being pushed into KERS when I think most teams would be comfortable to at least put it on hold. But the contrary effect is that the FIA then try and make it more attractive to force us to use it. Again it is another issue between the teams and the FIA.
These are the sort of frustrations that perhaps the teams feel at a time when we are trying to contain costs. These new technologies being promoted at a time when it's best to put a hold on them, and all the teams have eventually come to the conclusion that we should have a voluntary agreement not to use it. FOTA have a voluntary agreement not to use it next year.
But we have now got five teams outside of FOTA who may choose to use it and the competitive advantage of KERS has now been doubled at a time when all the FOTA teams are asking, 'stop, let us gather breath here, let's get our situation stabilised' and the FIA's response is to double the value of KERS to try and make the teams do it. It's one of the areas of disagreement between the FIA and the teams.
Q. Will you keep the tyres like this in the new championship?
RB: It's not determined yet who the tyre supplier might be so it is too early to say.
Q. Do you need a body to regulate the FOTA series?
RB: You would need a regulatory body. In fact ironically I think the agreement with the European Commission is that the FIA have to offer to do that to any competitive series that wants to set up, so the FIA have to offer to be at least the regulatory body. They may not be the body that sets the rules, they can be determined by some other mechanism. But if you want, the FIA can run the series for you. They can provide the stewards, the scrutineers and things of that nature. So that's available if FOTA wanted to take it up.
Q. Would you want them to oversee it?
RB: I think it is too early to get into the details at the moment.