Common sense seems to have finally prevailed. It is being reported that an agreement has been reached between FOTA, who had threatened to form a breakaway championship, and the FIA, who had threatened to sue them if they did.
Apparently Bernie Ecclestone, the F1 commercial rights holder, and Luca di Montezemolo, the FOTA chairman, held a series of meetings last night and this morning before today’s World Motor Sport Council meeting in Paris. These culminated in an agreement by the FOTA teams to not start a breakaway series and by FIA president, Max Mosley, to not stand for re-election in October.
After an initially hostile response to the FOTA breakaway announcement last Friday, where Mosley threatened to take legal action against the teams, he seemed to soften his stance during the British Grand Prix weekend when he realised FOTA wasn’t bluffing. The signs in the grandstands supporting FOTA and calling for him and Bernie to go couldn’t have helped either.
There was a brief flash of defiance from Max on Tuesday when a letter he wrote to FIA member clubs was leaked:
This is an attack on the FIA’s right to regulate its Formula One World Championship but, worse, it is a wholly unjustified criticism of and direct challenge to the entire structure and purpose of the FIA.
No president of the FIA could allow this to go unanswered. I have therefore responded on your behalf (see attachments). We are also preparing legal proceedings in case these are needed to protect the FIA’s rights in its Championship and to discourage any dissident Formula One team from engaging in illegal acts.
In it, he also hinted he would stand for re-election again in October:
I must now reflect on whether my original decision not to stand for re-election was indeed the right one.
Now it seems he will stand down as FIA president as originally planned. Mosley is quoted by the BBC as saying:
There will be no split. We have agreed to a reduction of costs. There will be one F1 championship but the objective is to get back to the spending levels of the early 90s within two years.
I will not be up for re-election, now we have peace.
Frankly, I’m a bit surprised. Of course, a split would have been the worst of all possible outcomes but the way FOTA were talking it was starting to seem like a breakaway was inevitable. I suppose that’s why Max eventually caved.
It is obvious that Bernie Ecclestone played a central role in this outcome. As he said:
My marriage broke up because of Formula One, so I am sure as hell not going to let things disintegrate over what is, in the end, basically nothing.