F1: Can Williams and Force India repair FOTA damage?

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, June 28th, 2009

 
 

The Williams F1 squad, suspended from the Formula One Teams’ Association for beating its own path to the FIA’s door over 2010 entry, is now hoping that it can come back in from the cold and join the other teams in shaping the future of the sport.

Oxfordshire-based Williams, regarded by many as the last pure racing team to grace the F1 championship, was asked to leave the organisation after becoming the first team to submit an unconditional entry to the FIA earlier this month.

But now, with the breakaway threat likely averted, it is looking to broker a new compromise.

When the suspension was first enacted, team principal Sir Frank Williams was bullish, saying: “We’re out. They said ‘you’re expelled’ actually. If you’re expelled from school, you don’t tend to go back do you, at least not to that one… In or out, it’s fine.”

He went on to say that he would prefer to be racing in a FIA-regulated world championship alongside the other teams and said if circumstances forced him to rejoin FOTA he would do so “screaming and kicking”. Read the full interview here.

However CEO Adam Parr is sounding a more conciliatory note. He recently said: “It’s essential we, along with Force India and the new teams, are part of the discussions going forward.

“The teams, the FIA and FOM [Formula One Management] have committed to a cost-saving programme that means the sport is stronger and better set up for the future than it has been for several years.

“On the cost savings, we understand what the objective is that has been agreed. But I think there’s a lot of detail to fill out in terms of how that’s going to be achieved and what the actual target is.”

As Parr’s words indicate, Silverstone-based Force India – expelled from FOTA shortly after Williams for deciding that its contractual obligations compelled it to race in the FIA championship – is in the same anomalous position.

And it is unclear whether FOTA is prepared to welcome them back. At a press conference following the announcement that it had come to an accommodation with the FIA, the organisation’s vice-president John Howett said: “We need to have some dialogue with these [new] teams to establish whether they wish to join FOTA.

“FOTA is open to talk; we believe dialogue is constructive and positive.”

However he rather pointedly did not mention the two suspended teams.

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