F1 teams in crisis talks

MONTE CARLO: The skies were overcast here Friday as the Formula One teams enjoyed the traditional rest day at the Monaco Grand Prix and their bosses prepared their briefcases for crisis talks.

As many of the major manufacturer-backed outfits confirmed their intention not to sign up for 2010 before the May 29 deadline unless planned budget-cap rules were overhauled, three current F1 teams said they would back the new rules and two new teams reaffirmed their wish to join the world championship.

Ferrari, livid at being asked to slash their enormous budget to continue racing in a series in which they have been ever-presents since it began in 1950, continued their furious attack on the state of the sport and its administration.

All of the current teams, as members of the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) were due to meet later Friday on the three-tier luxury yacht owned by Renault boss Flavio Briatore.

After that meeting, it was expected they would discuss the crisis with unyielding Max Mosley, president of the sport's ruling body, the International Motoring Federation (FIA).

The FOTA meeting was expected to be a showdown between the 'gang-of-five' - made up of Ferrari, Renault, Toyota, Red Bull and Toro Rosso - and their more compliant rivals Williams, Force India and Brawn, with the BMW Sauber and McLaren Mercedes teams sitting somewhere between.

All of the teams are understood to have agreed in principle to cost-cutting, but they are besieged by arguments about how to achieve it.

The gang-of-five are prepared to walk away to avoid Mosley's current plan for a voluntary budget cap of 40 million pounds and believe it is unmanageable and will lead to a two-tier series because the non-capped richer teams will have no technical freedom.

Williams team owner (Sir) Frank Williams said: "We are clearly and wholly in support of a budget cap - it suits us."

He said a 'glide path' may be necessary for teams like Ferrari and Toyota, which operate with budgets running into hundreds of millions of pounds.

"To expect a major manufacturer to slash its spending by 300 percent in four months is a very tall fiscal order," added Williams.

BMW chief Mario Theissen said: "I think whatever we do, if it's a monetary figure or if it's another form to cut resources, we have to police it and I think it can be policed.

"If we were not convinced it can be policed we wouldn't expend any effort on it but I think it can be done with a bit of good will on all sides and the right spirit. It can be done."

Force India owner Vijay Mallya said: "Whether you call it a budget cap or call it a targeted amount to be spent, that is very, very essential or else the small independent teams will never be able to compete with those who have, in comparison, extraordinary budgets."

As they positioned themselves ahead of Friday's meetings, the joint team principals of a new American team Team USF1 confirmed they had lodged an entry and agreed to the budget cap proposals. Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson made the announcement through the New York Times newspaper.

Spanish team Campos Racing, run by former Minardi F1 driver Adrian Campos, also confirmed it will lodge an entry on Friday.

But Toyota boss John Howett said: "There is a high probability that we won't enter before the deadline. If nothing changes, I don't think that professionally it is possible to commit the company to do that. I can't recommend that in my position."

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was scathing in his criticism of the plan to bring in new, small-budget teams. He said: "If Formula One becomes Formula Three, we won't race."

Friday's meetings were expected to run throughout the afternoon and into the evening, according to team sources, and no clear conclusion was expected.