(Luca Bruno ~ Associated Press)
SILVERSTONE, England -- Formula One intends to sue the eight teams that announced plans for a rival series next season -- the biggest crisis to engulf the sport since the championship began in 1950.
The governing body accused the Formula One Teams Association of "serious violations of law." The breakaway came after Ferrari, championship leader Brawn GP and six other teams failed to resolve a dispute over the introduction of a budget cap for next season.
The ruling body, known as FIA, cited "willful interference with contractual relations, direct breaches of Ferrari's legal obligations and a grave violation of competition law."
Ferrari has been part of Formula One from the outset. In addition to Brawn GP, the rebel group includes McLaren, Renault, Toyota, BMW Sauber, Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso.
(AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
F1 would lose some of its biggest names to the rival series, including reigning world champ Lewis Hamilton, championship leader Jenson Button of Brawn, Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull rising star Sebastian Vettel.
FOTA said its new series will have "transparent governance, one set of regulations, encourage more entrants and listen to the wishes of the fans, including offering lower prices for spectators worldwide, partners and other important stakeholders."
FIA has delayed publishing the final entry list for the 2010 season and said it will begin legal proceedings "without delay." Ferrari is already countersuing to "protect its contractual rights."
FIA president Max Mosley is "completely confident" the breakaway series will not come to pass, predicting sponsor pressure will end the revolt.
"It's all about personalities and power and who can grab what from whom, which is easy when nothing's at stake. But, when it comes to the first race and it's make-your-mind-up time, they will be there."
Mosley plans to stay as FIA president beyond October to ensure the 2010 championship begins as usual -- with the eight breakaway teams.
"I'd be much more likely to step down if there was peace because I am nearly 70," he said.
Budget cap halts talks
Negotiations stalled over plans for a voluntary $65 million budget cap. The FOTA teams entered the 2010 series provided there would be changes to the budget cap. But FIA did not give ground, saying the sport cannot survive in this economy without such restrictions. The eight FOTA teams said they would not "compromise on the fundamental values of the sport."
Brawn GP chief executive Nick Fry said Friday his group negotiated "at some length in good faith and not quite got to where we want to be." He said he would like talks to continue, but the "ball is now in Max's court."
Of the existing teams, Williams and Force India have broken ranks with FOTA and are unconditionally entered for 2010. They will be joined by three new outfits -- Campos Racing, Team US F1 and Manor F1 Team. The exodus means that teams that were overlooked for 2010 may now get another chance.
The split will have serious ramifications for broadcasters with rights to what will be a diminished F1 without big-name teams and drivers. Also, the venues hosting F1 races may want to hold breakaway events.
The breakaway teams announced their decision after meeting Thursday night near Silverstone. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said there was "no alternative."
"If you want to keep competing then you've got to look at something else," he said.
FOTA criticized the FIA's "uncompromising" stance and its attempts, along with the commercial rights holder group headed by Bernie Ecclestone, to divide its member teams.
Fry said that because Brawn is a smaller team, complying with FIA restrictions wouldn't have been a problem. But he wanted to keep the new team aligned with the sport's leading entrants.
"We want to compete against the best in the business," said Fry, whose Brawn team emerged from the ashes of Honda this year. "The reason that we were very keen to be with the group of eight is that it contains the best motor racing teams in the world."