Ecclestone joins FIA/FOTA meeting

Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is to join a meeting between FIA president Max Mosley and teams in London tomorrow to discuss the row about a two-tier category next year

Ecclestone joins FIA/FOTA meeting

After a week in which Ferrari, Toyota, Renault and the two Red Bull-owned teams have all confirmed that they will not lodge entries to the 2010 championship if the rules are not changed, tomorrow's talks look set to be crucial for the future of the sport.

Teams are unhappy that the imposition of a voluntary £40 million budget cap could lead to a two-tier F1 in 2010, and they are also aggrieved at what they believe has been a lack of consultation at the imposition of new regulations.

With the entry deadline for the 2010 championship closing at the end of this month, the FIA, Ecclestone and the teams only have two weeks to come to a compromise.

But despite the swell of opposition to the new rules among teams, Ecclestone believes that the main issue is sorting out Ferrari's position - as they are the most important team in F1.

"The key to F1 is Ferrari," Ecclestone was quoted as saying in the British press on Thursday. "They have been there for 60 years. They are partners of ours.

"They are the people we need to take into consideration. At the moment everyone is hanging on to their apron strings. Sort that out and we will be OK."

Of the other manufacturers in F1, only BMW and Mercedes-Benz have not yet joined those outfits stating that they will quit the 2010 championship if the rules are not changed.

BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen said in Spain last week that his team's stance would be made clear after this week's meeting, while Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug has said his company is not looking for an exit.

He was quoted in the German press as saying that threatening to withdraw from F1 was 'not a topic at Mercedes'.

He added: "I know that from conversation with (Ferrari president) Luca di Montezemolo and (team principal) Stefano Domenicali that Ferrari has thought about this threat very well..

"After 60 years in Formula 1 they would not do so without some serious thinking. We will try to help to find a solution. All the teams are agreed that there cannot be two regulations in one series."

Ferrari has made it clear that its threat to withdraw from F1 is not just sabre-rattling, and that it is serious about switching to other racing categories.

Enzo Ferrari's son Piero Ferrari told The Guardian: "I strongly believe that if you look at the past of Ferrari, today's image is born from victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and sports and GT racing.

"We cannot forget our beginnings, and the passion of my father is still in the company. But we want racing with clear rules and starting from the same point."

When asked about his father's threat to quit F1 in 1986 and switch to an assault on the Indianapolis 500, Ferrari added: "He wasn't bluffing. He was serious. And so are we."

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