The politics soar in the off season as HRT has officially announced that they are no longer members of the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA), this according to Reuters and the fine work of Mr. Alan Baldwin. While FOTA represents a unified voice in F1 with McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh at the helm of the organization, HRT felt that it only caters to the big teams.
“We left FOTA around Dec. 15,” said a spokeswoman for the team. “For our interests it is better not to be there. It’s more for the big teams than the small ones.”
Whether that is true or not depends on the context as other small teams have not shared that similar view in the past but that could certainly change should HRT have a valid point. Perhaps more likely is the fact that being a member of FOTA requires a membership fee and as AUTOSPORT astutely points out in their coverage of the story, the €100,000 fee was not paid by HRT and this, in my opinion, seems more likely the prime mover for departure than FOTA not holding up its end of the bargain to support the small teams.
HRT says they are on track to make the grid this season with efforts being made to develop their new chassis. The testing program will feature their 2010 chassis but they are confident the new car will be ready for the 2011 season. Money has always been a struggle in F1 and more now than ever for teams like HRT. The paying driver is a key element in keeping the team solvent and the FOTA membership would be better spent on keeping the lights on and the mobile phone bills paid rather than belonging to a group that is merely building its case for the 2013 Concorde Agreement negotiations right? Well, maybe.
FOTA has always maintained that they have to represent all teams and this includes the small teams. I am sure they could offer a host of initiatives that they have worked on that are catered to the small teams. When you get a group of people in a room and seek consensus, it’s never an easy task.