In what may likely be the biggest schism in motorsports since the IRL-CART debacle of the 1990s, eight of the largest teams in Formula 1 announced this week they would leave the series after this year and start their own race series.
The eight — BMW Sauber, Brawn GP, Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull Racing, Renault, Toro Rosso, and Toyota — are represented by the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA). FOTA andthe Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (F1’s sanctioning body) have locked horns over the past months in regards to a proposed budget cap for the upcoming 2010 season.
The cap, which would curtail each team’s spending at $60 million, is viewed by both the FIA and Formula 1 management as an attempt to keep costs in control in light of the global economy crunch and even the playing field.
Teams, however, were vehemently opposed to the idea. Restricting the amount a team can spend works much like salary caps in other professional sports — it becomes much harder to afford, let alone attain, star drivers to pilot the teams. Likewise, teams would also find themselves implementing head counts andcutting the number of crew members or even drivers, in an effort to cut costs.
All eight teams had submitted conditional entries to the 2010 series, all the while petitioning to strike the salary cap from the rulebook. Both the FIA and F1 management held out, and in response, FOTA announced during practice at the British Grand Prix they were withdrawing their entries.
“The teams cannot continue to compromise on the fundamental values of the sport,” representatives said, “and have declined to alter their original conditional entries to the 2010 world championship.
“These teams, therefore, have no alternative other than to commence the preparation for a new championship which reflects the values of its participants and partners.”
The only two teams seemingly unaffected by the split are Force India and Williams. Both teams were suspended from FOTA earlier this year after they dissented from the group’s opposition of the budget cap. Unless F1 and FOTA can somehow kiss and make up before, expect these two teams, along with newcomers Campos Racing, Team US F1, and Manor F1, to be the only certain players in the 2010 Formula 1 season.
Source: Associated Press