Weighing up the rivals in F1 row
The announcement by eight of Formula 1's 10 teams that they are to press ahead with plans to set up a breakaway championship next year means the sport is set for a summer of intense political battles.
Despite the threat by the teams' umbrella group the Formula One Teams'
Association (Fota), the preferred conclusion for all parties remains an accommodation that would see all the current teams racing in F1 next year.
But Fota and Max Mosley, the president of F1's governing body, the FIA, will be engaging in the mother of all power struggles before any compromise is reached.
As F1 reels from the fall-out of Fota's late-night announcement, then, it might be helpful to try to cut through the fog of spin and analyse where each side stands, and the strengths - or otherwise - of their position.
What it wants:
Mosley has been clear that he feels F1 is unsustainable in the current global financial crisis if costs stay at their present levels. He wants to introduce a budget cap, and he has changed the rules for next season to set this at £40m. Teams can choose whether they want to operate under the cap, but those that do would be given technical freedoms that would give them a decisive performance advantage.
Mosley believes that F1 is in grave danger if he does not introduce this cap. He says up to three of the car manufacturers currently in the sport could pull out at the end of this season - and he has named them as Renault, BMW and Toyota.
He says that by reducing costs to £40m a year he will remove this threat, as the boards of those companies would then have no reason to quit the sport because their costs would be covered by the money they receive from commercial rights holder Formula 1 Management (FOM), under the leadership of Bernie Ecclestone.
Mosley is also determined to hold on to the power of the FIA - power that has been greatly increased since he allowed the Concorde Agreement, that governed the sport and enshrined rights for the teams, to lapse in 2007.
He has said he is prepared to sign a new Concorde Agreement and has said he will remove a clause in the rules that the teams believe allows him to unilaterally change the regulations when he wanted.
He has also told the teams that he is prepared to abandon the two-tier rules and compromise on the cost cap, introducing an interim ceiling of £100m next year before moving to £40m in 2010. But he will not abandon it altogether.
What the FIA has going for it:
It owns the FIA Formula 1 world championship.
FOM has contracts with TV companies that commit them to cover F1, although some of them have clauses that would void those deals in certain circumstances (Italian station RAI, for example, has the presence of Ferrari guaranteed in its contract).
The FIA and FOM have ongoing contracts with most of the current circuits, although that does not apply to Silverstone.
Mosley's formidable intellect - he is an incredibly sharp political operator.
What it wants:
The eight teams in Fota are Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, BMW Sauber, Toyota, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Brawn.
They are committed to cost reductions, but they reject the idea of a cost-cap. They want to reduce budgets by restricting expense at source - by, for example, reducing the time they are allowed to spend in a wind tunnel, or the amount of changes they can make to their cars in a season.
They want a greater say in the rule-making process, and a re-establishment of the Concorde Agreement that, among other things, enshrines the teams' role in the rule-making process.
They want what they describe as a fairer distribution of the sport's profits, which at the moment are split 50-50 between the teams and the company that owns F1's commercial rights, a venture capital group called CVC which bought them from FOM three years ago.
They also want a change in the way the sport is governed, with greater stability in the regulations and an end to the continued changes made by Mosley, and what they perceive as the autocratic way he runs the sport.
Finally, Fota wants an end to the current move in F1 towards races in places where no-one comes to watch - either because they cannot afford the ticket prices or because they are not interested - but whose governments are prepared to pay huge fees to host a grand prix, and instead guaranteed races in the sport's historic heartland and, particularly, the USA, a critical market for all the car companies.
What Fota has going for it:
Ferrari - by far the sport's most famous name, and one which, surveys say, is the reason that a third of all fans watch F1.
Nearly all the other big teams - among them McLaren, F1's second most successful team, Renault, which has a history in F1 going back more than 30 years, and major car manufacturers such as BMW and Toyota.
All the top drivers - including global household names such as Lewis Hamilton, the reigning world champion, and Fernando Alonso, the most successful active driver. And the man who is odds on to be world champion this year - Jenson Button.
Most probably the Monaco Grand Prix, the most famous race in motorsport and the jewel in F1's crown. Monaco is understood not to be contractually committed to F1, so is free to do what it wants. And Prince Albert of Monaco strongly hinted in a BBC interview at this year's race that he could not envisage his race without Ferrari.
THE NEXT STEPS
Just because the teams say they're planning a breakaway championship doesn't mean there is going to be one.
There are a lot of egos involved in this dispute, but all of them know the dangers involved if there actually was a split. They are all aware that single-seater racing in America has still not recovered from the split between the leading teams and the Indianapolis 500 in 1995.
So the most likely result remains that, eventually, the two sides will reach a compromise that sees F1 carrying on next year much as it is now.
But how the sport gets there from this stand-off is another matter entirely.
What entry list will Mosley publish tomorrow? If the big teams are not on it, how will that be solved? If they are, what happens then? What legal action will each side take to pursue their aims? How will a compromise be reached without some of the egos involved being punctured? These are just some of the issues that need to be resolved.
The underlying issue is the governance of F1 - and particularly Mosley's leadership. Fota is no longer prepared to put up with the FIA having absolute power, and the strength of the teams' unity can be judged by their willingness to stick together so far despite all attempts to drive them apart.
Among these was the leaking by Mosley of the fact that in 2005 he had offered Ferrari - who accepted - a veto over all future regulation changes (a contract Ferrari say the FIA has now broken by introducing the cost cap for 2010).
Far from driving a wedge between the teams and Ferrari, this information served to strengthen their bond - they saw it as evidence of what they perceive as the endemic corruption in the way Mosley runs F1.
The word in F1 at the moment is that the only way a solution can be reached would be for Mosley not to stand again for the presidency in October's FIA elections. But the chances of Mosley doing that voluntarily must be seen as slim.
It is hard to see how this will be solved without some major casualties along the way.