Formula One plunged into its biggest crisis in 60 years on Friday with eight of the 10 teams announcing plans to set up their own championship.
The teams association FOTA said BMW-Sauber, Brawn, Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Renault, Toro Rosso and Toyota were united in a decision that would split the sport in two if carried through.
“The teams cannot continue to compromise on the fundamental values of the sport and have declined to alter their original conditional entries to the 2010 world championship,” said a statement.
“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 FIA had set a Friday deadline for teams to make their entries unconditional or risk exclusion in favour of would-be new competitors. The eight FOTA teams had submitted entries conditional on the 2010 rules, which include a controversial budget cap, being rewritten and the signing of a new commercial agreement governing the sport.
FOTA said their new series would encourage more entrants, listen to the wishes of fans and have transparent governance. “The major drivers, stars, brands, sponsors, promoters and companies historically associated with the highest level of motorsport will all feature in this new series,” it added.
The stage is also set for a legal battle, with the FIA saying champions Ferrari and the two Red Bull teams have contracts that commit them to the existing championship.
FIA takes legal route
Formula one chiefs are to start legal proceedings without delay against the FOTA following their threat to begin a breakaway series it was announced on Friday. The FIA statement read:
“The FIA's lawyers have examined the FOTA threat to begin a breakaway series. The actions of FOTA as a whole, and Ferrari in particular, amount to serious violations of law including wilful interference with contractual relations, direct breaches of Ferrari's legal obligations.”