Williams F1 have been suspended from their membership in FOTA after submitting their entry application to the FIA for the 2010 season. Many have been shocked at the move and the resounding question is, why?
In my opinion this has to do with the frustration some of the teams would naturally feel toward Williams for breaking ranks and not having the commitment to stay unified in FOTA. This weakens their position when bargaining with the FIA and is not a precedent that FOTA wanted to set. It is also a political move to suggest that those teams who are not willing to hold the FOTA line and trust in the teams to negotiate a better F1 should not be taking part in the association.
But I also think that a key point is that they have been ‘temporarily’ suspended because FOTA meets today to discuss, what can only be assumed as, sensitive negotiation topics and possible moves they will make and as Williams has submitted their entry and joined ranks with the FIA for next year; it would not be prudent for Williams to hear the details of FOTA’s next move. A precautionary and political move to send a message of the teams displeasure with Williams F1 and the desire to remain secretive on their position.
Like Sir Frank said, it is an understandable move by FOTA. I’d like to say that I understand Williams move as well but I am wondering if waiting until the last day, Friday, would have been more prudent for them. What would that have hurt? With the FOTA meeting today, perhaps they would have had more answers and more clarity on what direction to take but as it is, they will not be allowed to know what FOTA’s next move will be. There is no question Williams has to race to eat. I get that. So does Brawn GP and Force India as well as McLaren. Yet these teams have waited. Sir Frank said:
“FOTA’s decision, although regrettable, is understandable.
“However, as a racing team and a company whose only business is Formula 1, with obligations to our partners and our employees, submitting our entry to next year’s championship was unquestionable.
“In addition, we are legally obliged under our contract with FOM and the FIA to participate in the World Championship until the end of 2012.”
I will add that Crash is reporting that Max had a ‘secret’ meeting with McLaren, force India and Brawn GP in Monaco to discuss their signing the entry form for 2010 under the budget cap program. If true, this would be logical for the FIA to pick away at the low-hanging fruit to get FOTA to crumble under its own weight as teams have their own interests to serve first. Going after the teams whose existence depends on racing is obvious. It remains to be seen if Brawn GP, McLaren or Force India will file application this week.