A three-hour meeting between the grand prix teams and the FIA, the sport’s governing body, on Friday ended with the future of Formula One still in the balance. The teams are now united in their opposition to Max Mosley’s plan for a £40m budget cap but the FIA’s president said: “We had a good constructive meeting and there will be ongoing discussions. I’m always confident there’ll be agreement.”
Mosley’s summary did not appear to match the mood of John Howett and Mario Theissen, the team principals of Toyota and BMW respectively, who left the meeting with set expressions and refused to say a word. However, Luca di Montezemolo, the president of Ferrari, was upbeat and said there would be further meetings on Saturday between the teams and then with Mosley. “It was a long and constructive meeting,” said Di Montezemolo, who returned to Italy Friday night. “What we want is that Formula One stays as Formula One, and that it doesn’t become something different and go towards constant changes which confuse the public and all the others. What we want is that we work over the next two years to arrive at a way of further reducing costs.”
Earlier, representatives of the 10 teams — the Formula One Teams Association (Fota) — emerged from their own 2½-hour meeting apparently in full agreement for the first time.
“As always there’s been a very good meeting,” Di Montezemolo said. “We are all together and we will be in position to go to the chairman of FIA saying in a very constructive, but very clear way, the position of Fota.” Asked if he was confident regarding the future, he commented: “We will see. What is important is that our view of the future is absolutely in common.”
Di Montezemolo confirmed this was the teams’ final proposal. There seemed to be a willingness on both sides to compromise, though, after the talks with Mosley. Ferrari, Renault, Red Bull and Toyota had threatened to quit Formula One if Mosley did not backtrack on plans to introduce a £40m budget cap in 2010. Williams, Force India and Brawn, previously in favour of the cap, appeared to have agreed with objections which also opposed Mosley’s unilateral methods.
“We made some progress,” said Ross Brawn, the team principal of Brawn GP. An unofficial source hinted the continuing discussions will be about the budget cap and the areas it should cover.
Button on pole
Monte Carlo: Jenson Button grabbed pole position for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix in the final seconds of
Button delivered a best time of one minute and 14.902 seconds in his Brawn GP car on Saturday to secure his fourth pole in six races this year and the seventh of his career.
He beat Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari by two-hundredths of a second. Button’s Brawn teammate Brazilian Rubens Barrichello was third ahead of Sebastian Vettel in a Red Bull and Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari. German Nico Rosberg was sixth for Williams and Finn Heikki Kovalainen seventh.
Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton will start at the back of the grid after a gearbox change on his damaged car, the McLaren-Mercedes team confirmed on Saturday.