Analysis: F1 Set for April Showdown

Formula One teams are facing increased pressure to come back to the negotiating table with the sport's governing body over future regulation changes after being warned again that new rules will be framed without them if they do not change their stance

Analysis: F1 Set for April Showdown

That is the underlying message issued by the FIA on Wednesday after a meeting of their World Motorsports Council (WMSC) ratified the decision to keep F1's technical regulations unchanged until the end of 2007 - and making it clear that 2008's rules will be set in stone by the end of this year.

In the wake of every team other than Ferrari deliberately choosing to ignore an FIA meeting in January to begin discussions about the 2008 regulations, responsibility has been firmly shifted onto them not to repeat their actions in the next meeting scheduled for April 15.

All the teams have been invited to attend the new meeting, despite FIA president Max Mosley suggesting earlier this year that talks for 2008 rules would only take place with those teams committed to racing then. 

With the WMSC indicating that further meetings after the April 15 get-together will only be held 'if necessary' - a no show at the meeting from teams would mean that the FIA and Mosley would be well within their rights to finalise plans for the 2008 rules there and then with any party that did show up.

With tensions between the FIA and the teams still simmering after the raft of rule changes introduced for this year and Minardi boss Paul Stoddart's showdown in Melbourne, the April 15 meeting has now taken on increased political significance for all parties involved.

Amid the backdrop of continued public calls from the majority of teams urging Ferrari to join them in cost-cutting measures, Mosley will only too eagerly wish to remind them to follow their words with actions.

And it appears that he has already engineered a win-win situation for himself and the FIA.

Should the teams change their stance from January and choose to turn up at the April 15 meeting, then some could view it as a victory for Mosley - who will then have managed to get every team around the negotiating table for the first time since the 'Group of Nine' split from Ferrari. Rules can then be agreed with input from all the teams, meaning a more unified long-term future.

Should the teams refuse to attend the meeting and likely leave Ferrari alone again in discussions with Mosley, then the likelihood is that the rules will be framed without any input from the 'Group of Nine' - leaving them with no grounds at all to criticise any of the decisions taken.

The other crucial factor is that the April 15 meeting comes a week after the teams have met with the manufacturers representatives planning to set up a rival series in 2008.

That means there will be little excuse for the teams not to put forward what has been proposed to the manufacturers when they meet with the FIA - effectively negating any advantage the new series may have in potentially more favourable rules.

It may not be denouement time in the fight over 2008, but April 15 looks like being another vital day for the future of F1.

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