JULY 16, 2006
The FIA and Renault react to the GPMA statement
As the Formula 1 cars were on their final parade lap for the French Grand Prix, the FIA issued a reaction to the earlier GPMA statement. This was followed in the middle of the race by a statement from Renault. The FIA revealed that the GPMA members agreed to increase the size of the engine fund to $19m a year for five years - an investment of nearly $100m. This offer was received by the FIA at the same time as the GPMA statement was released, an odd way of doing business but clearly a strategic manoeuvre in the ongoing brinksmanship.
Renault's statement was even more bizarre as the French manufacturer announced that it was not in agreement with the GPMA release.
GPMA sources say that Renault F1 boss Alain Dassas was present at a meeting in which the release was agreed. Renault sources were unable to confirm or deny this.
What has also emerged is that the FIA's defence of "independent teams" is based on the refusal of two teams to sign up to the GPMA deal. These two teams are MF1 Racing and Prodrive: one is on the verge of being sold and the other is not yet a real F1 team.
There are some who argue that Ferrari (and by association the Red Bull teams) have not actually agreed to the GPMA deal but if that is the case it is an odd thing for the GPMA to make claims that are obviously not true and can immediately be revealed as being untrue. The alternative is to look at the companies that are supposed to be involved and to ask whether they are playing a double game and not being entirely honest with their supposed partners.
There is the added possibility that the GPMA would create a fund without Renault being a party to it as Renault's membership of the group has been decidedly shaky for some time but for some reason Renault does not wish to be seen to be deserting the other car manufacturers. Whatever the arcane details involved the GPMA has now proposed to increase the size of the fund to the level that the FIA wanted - and that creates an interesting situation because for the FIA to now reject the proposal would be contrary to its previous position.
There are any number of questions that need to be asked in all of this including whether there really are competition issues involved in creating such a fund and indeed whether the FIA should be involving itself in negotiations over what look to be commercial decisions.
One has to ask exactly where Renault does stand in all of this and why the GPMA would have issued a statement if it were blatantly untrue - a move that makes no sense at all.
This mess is likely to go on for a few more days and it can only be hoped that a sensible compromise will eventually be found.
The alternatives are not very palatable for anyone.
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