F1 on verge of landmark peace deal
Formula 1 is agonisingly close to an agreement that will end the political conflict besetting the sport this year - and insiders expect a deal to be signed as soon as the end of this week.
The F1 teams are in the final stages of negotiations on the various documents that need to be finalised to usher in a new era of peace, securing all the interested parties to the sport until the end of 2012 under a new legal and financial agreement.
Sources say they expect a new version of the Concorde Agreement - the document that binds the teams, governing body the FIA and the sport's commercial rights holders together and defines the relationship between them - to be signed by the end of this weekend here at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Only small details remain to be resolved, and these are mainly in one specific area, albeit one that has been at the centre of the once-bitter rows this season.
That is what has become known as the "resource restriction", which is the new name for what FIA president Max Mosley had originally intended to be a £40m budget cap.
The eight teams who threatened to split from F1 and set up a breakaway championship as a result of their concerns over that and other issues - particularly what they saw as Mosley's autocratic and arbitrary manner of governing F1 - have forced an abandonment of a set maximum spend.
Those teams, represented by umbrella group the F1 Teams' Association (Fota), also want to reduce spending dramatically, but to do so by restricting ways in which teams can do research and other work. To get all parties signed up to F1 post-2009, though, the Fota teams had to reach an agreement with the five teams that submitted unconditional entries to next year's championship under the now-abandoned budget cap - current teams Williams and Force India and new outfits Campos, USF1 and Manor.
Williams, in particular, have a number of "issues" with the resource restriction plan put forward by Fota.
As reported by BBC Sport over the German Grand Prix weekend, though, the ultimate power lies with Fota, which is working closely together with F1's commercial rights holders, the venture capital group CVC Capital Partners, to secure a new deal on the future of the sport.
CVC, which has spent billions on F1 but is also heavily in debt, feared for its investment as a result of the breakaway threat, and has recognised that F1 is effectively the top teams and drivers, regardless of whether the series they race in is actually called the FIA Formula 1 world championship.
As one team boss told me: "That (CVC and Fota) is the championship."
In other words, whatever Fota and CVC do will be the world's premier motor racing championship next year, regardless of whether the FIA sign up or Williams choose to take part.
Now that CVC has finalised terms with Fota, they are, in the interests of harmony, trying to satisfy the demands of other teams, such as Williams, but ultimately are unlikely to give on them all.
At which point Williams - or anyone else in their position - will effectively be told: "We understand your concerns, some will be addressed, some won't. That's how it is. Now sign up or go and race somewhere else."
And although there is a bit of 11th-hour brinksmanship going on, ultimately they will have to sign. And the same goes for the FIA.
Another area of particular focus is the shape of the calendar.
The Fota teams that are owned or part-owned by road-car manufacturers - Ferrari (Fiat), McLaren (Mercedes), Renault, BMW and Toyota - are demanding guarantees that there will be races in important markets, such as the USA and Germany.
The current trend has been away from such countries, because they either unable or unwilling to pay the race fees demanded by F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone.
He has pursued races in countries that will pay his price because they want to use a grand prix as a tool to boost their global image - places such as Malaysia, Turkey, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. But to major car companies these are insignificant markets - and they are determined to see races that are important to them guaranteed places on the calendar.
It is a complicated series of negotiations, because five different documents, all of which are complex and inter-related, have to be agreed at the same time. Those documents are: the Concorde Agreement; the "resource restriction" agreement; the agreement between CVC and Fota, which will also almost certainly include the FIA, unless there actually is going to be a breakaway, which looks unlikely; and the sporting and technical regulations.
In theory, all the documents should be signed at the same time by all parties - certainly the Fota teams will not sign anything that the FIA has not already signed because they do not trust Mosley not to try something on if they do.
But it seems a concurrent signing might not be what happens. One source - which I cannot verify - says Campos have already signed and that - less likely on the face of it - so has one Fota team.
There is also talk that Ferrari, McLaren and Williams are negotiating special, favourable deals of their own because of their historic value to F1 - much as the most successful teams received more money under the previous Concorde Agreement.
As ever, it is a complex issue, but behind all the political to-ing and fro-ing, most insiders seem agreed on one thing - that everything should be finalised by the end of the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend. Although this has gone on so long that no-one would be surprised if that date slipped a bit yet again.