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Rebel three seek breakaway support

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F1 Mole | 15:42 UK time, Thursday, 21 May 2009

Super-rich Monaco might not be the obvious place for a revolution but there is unrest in the air in the Principality.

Talk in the paddock along the harbour front here is focused on the ongoing row over the £40m cost cap and two-tier championship that governing body the FIA has proposed for next year.

FIA president Max Mosley and F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone emerged from a crisis meeting with team bosses in London last Friday saying that they had all agreed to abandon the idea of two sets of rules and that the teams had said they would go away and try to come up with a more palatable way of saving money than Mosley's cost-cap idea.


The teams' umbrella group Fota is having a meeting on the subject on Friday - on Flavio Briatore's boat, apparently - to discuss that alternative proposal. But the Mole has been hearing that there is a hardcore among the teams pushing for an approach rather more radical than that.

The word here in Monaco is that Ferrari, Toyota and Red Bull intend to use the meeting to try to persuade the other teams to join them in walking away from Formula 1 altogether and setting up their own championship.

All three teams have already made that threat publicly, of course, saying they will not race in F1 in 2010 if Mosley does not change the rules he has introduced.

That has generally been viewed as an initial negotiating position from which to start discussions that would eventually lead to the inevitable compromise that F1 always seems to reach in these situations.

But it seems that attitudes in some of the teams have hardened - that the 'rebel three' feel they have had enough of what they see as Mosley's meddling and that they would be better served in abandoning F1.

Right now, it appears the other seven teams do not intend to join them - and the most likely outcome almost certainly remains that some sort of compromise will be reached that keeps Ferrari in a cheaper F1 in 2010.

How long it will take to get there, though, is another matter. And the way things are going it does not look like being resolved before the 29 May deadline Mosley has imposed for teams to lodge their entries.

It remains a distinct possibility that some of the major teams will not lodge entries by that date. That could leave them waiting to find out how many of the much-mooted new teams will actually front up, or even forced into buying one of those new teams if they wanted to enter at a later date.

Mosley is arriving in Monaco on Thursday evening, and he plans to meet the teams for talks in the afternoon after the Fota meeting.

Ecclestone clearly wants to Ferrari to stay on board, and will be doing everything he can to ensure that happens.

In the meantime, it seems the rest of us should settle in for a few weeks of the sort of politicking F1 does so well - and which was summed up rather neatly by BMW Sauber boss Mario Theissen in L'Equipe newspaper on Friday morning.

"If you look back," he said, "these negotiations, discussions, have already spiced up F1 in the past. And even gained more interest in the public. So in some ways apparently it's part of F1. I personally do not need it, and I hope we will get over it quite soon. But I don't think it will (do any) damage."


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