Way to go out on a limb, Jean Todt.
The FIA has issued a press release [literally, the page is titled "Press Release"] in which it says Toyota and Bridgestone’s withdrawals “are of concern,” puts forth the possibility of a court fight with Toyota [pretty pro forma], and fully blames the economic downturn.
As opposed to a certain F1 team based in Maranello.
Here is the release :
"The announcements this week by Toyota and Bridgestone of their withdrawal from Formula One are of concern to the FIA.
"Bridgestone has given almost 18 months’ notice of its intentions, thereby allowing the necessary arrangements to be made for the future supply of tyres to the championship.
"Toyota’s decision, however, comes just weeks after its F1 team signed the new Concorde Agreement until 2012.
"Urgent clarification is now being sought from the Toyota F1 team as to its legal position in relation to the championship. This will have a direct bearing on the admission of any future 13th entry.
"The FIA has repeatedly warned that motor sport cannot outpace the world economic crisis. That is why the competing teams have been asked to cut costs and the entry of independent teams has been encouraged.
"The FIA accepted the cost-reduction measures put forward by the teams on the basis that they would ensure a long-term commitment to the championship. Toyota’s announcement demonstrates the importance of the original cost-reduction measures set out by the FIA.
"The FIA will now work to ensure that Toyota’s departure is managed in the best interests of the championship and will continue to encourage the F1 teams to undertake the necessary cost-cutting measures for the good of the sport."
This one is fairly easy to unpack. As noted, there is the threat of a lawsuit; I can’t ultimately see the FIA going ahead with that, but they need the leverage.
Of more interest is the possibility that the former BMW team could still be kept out of the 2010 season. [Renault is meeting today, but the latest word is that we will not hear its decision.]
What is really at issue is the FIA’s focus on the high cost of competing in F1 being the cause for Toyota’s departure. Ferrari, as noted above, has staked out the opposite position.
“In reality the steady trickle of desertion is more the result of a war against the big car manufacturers by those who managed the sport, than the effects of the economical that affected Formula 1 over the last years,” Ferrari said in its release.
And with that we have the makings for another major battle, as I suspected when I first posted the Ferrari news.