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FOTA must remain united - Montezemolo

ESPNF1 Staff
January 14, 2011 « Montezemolo still has Abu Dhabi nightmares | »
Luca di Montezemolo: "I expect Formula One will remain as the highest expression of technology, of motor sport and in terms of the spectacle" © Sutton Images

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has urged the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) to stay united, amid news that HRT has turned its back on it and speculation that Red Bull has broken its cost-saving agreement.

FOTA is expected to have a busy year in 2011 as it attempts to draft a new Concorde Agreement with the sport's commercial rights holders that will determine the teams' share of the sport's profits in the future. However, earlier this week back-of-the-grid team HRT announced it was leaving FOTA, saying: "It's more for the big teams than the small ones".

FOTA chairman Martin Whitmarsh insists the future of the organistaion is solid and said at the Autosport International Show: "We've got a few little issues, I don't think it's useful to talk about those in public, but we will power through those." Speaking at Ferrari's winter media event, Montezemolo, who was the chairman of FOTA in 2009, said if the teams want to influence the sport's future, they must stick together.

"If the teams know how to remain united and work in constructive fashion, as part of the virtuoso triangle alongside the FIA and the commercial rights holder, then this organisation has a future," he said. "When I was president, it was a different more difficult time, whereas now the atmosphere is calmer. The fact remains that Formula One has to be the highest level of this sport therefore there cannot be too big a gap between the big and small teams in terms of how competitive they are."

Red Bull has also been under scrutiny this week, as stories have emerged suggesting it broke the Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA) set up and regulated by FOTA. Red Bull has denied the rumours, which, if true, would mean the team would have to run with a smaller budget this year. Montezemolo said he had no more information on the subject, but was keen to point out that it highlights the inherent problems with trying to restrict budgets in F1.

"I have heard these stories, but I don't know if they are true," he said. "If they turn out to be correct, then it shows that our long held view that we are against an artificial cap is the right one: it is impossible to run checks when for example, there are companies involved which can manufacture in various countries. Plus there are always polemical situations in Formula.

"I am pleased to see that, after the Brawn GP comet and its titles which, might I say came with some technical 'drug taking' we then had another team taking both titles last year, one that is maybe not yet in the habit of winning: it's part of the game and its great, but maybe when others have won 10% of what Ferrari has won, then they can also have their say."

When considering the future of Formula One, Montezemolo said it was important to put the considerations of the teams and the public first.

"I expect Formula One will remain as the highest expression of technology, of motor sport and in terms of the spectacle," he said. "There needs to be constructive dialogue between the International Federation [FIA], the commercial rights holder and the teams. The latter have to be competitive, must be able to invest and to maintain themselves at a high level. On top of that, you need stability in the regulations so that the teams can plan their investments and in order for the public to understand what is going on."

He said it was important to control costs, but also to make sure Formula One cars have some relevance to road cars.

"I do not believe in the budget cap or cost control, which are always impossible to verify: reduction in costs comes through regulation changes, both on the technical and sporting front, without forgetting the links to industrial production and technical innovation for the motor industry of the future, because we want cars, not rockets."