The future of the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) is in doubt after Ferrari, Red Bull and Sauber all signalled their intention to leave.
With HRT having departed in 2010 only eight teams are now represented by the organisation, which is chaired by McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh. In addition Scuderia Toro Rosso – owned by Red Bull and an engine partner of Ferrari – is believed to be on the verge of leaving.
In recent months FOTA, founded in essence to give the teams a united voice in negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone, has been struggling to reach a consensus on various issues.
Key among them is the Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA), FOTA’s attempt to keep a lid on costs. Some elements have proved hard to police, leading to a climate of suspicion.
“The RRA really only affects four teams, because they are the only ones big enough to reach the limit,” said Nick Fry of Mercedes GP. “If those teams that do have enormous backing end up with a free situation, it’s only going to be to the detriment of the whole sport. We will end up even more than we have done already with the same position as the Premier League, where there are four or five wealthy teams at the top. That’s not good for anyone.
“I don’t think we should be naïve enough to believe that we can find the perfect solution. People will always be suspicious of others, because if someone’s winning and you’re not, many people’s first idea is that the other person must be doing something that’s not allowed. It’s usually the situation that somebody’s done a better job than the other one.”
In the background has been the build-up to the signing of a new Concorde Agreement for 2013 and beyond, as the teams have their own ideas about the size of the slice of the F1 pie they are entitled to.
“That needs to be agreed in the next year or so,” said Fry. “The teams were very successful last time in sticking together and negotiating with the promoter.
“I think it goes without saying that all teams would like a bit more money, that’s always going to be so. I’m sure FOM [Formula One Management] would say they’d like more money too, and the same with the FIA. So that’s a very simple and obvious point.”