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A quandary for the FIA

NEWS STORY
30/07/2009

With the withdrawal of BMW from the Formula One World Championship, the FIA now faces a problem when it comes to the slot left vacant.

Up until yesterday morning, things were looking good for 2010, even though nobody is absolutely sure of the rules and a new Concorde Agreement has yet to be inked.

Then BMW went and spoiled it all by announcing that having failed to win the title within three (four) seasons - much like Izo Yamura complaining that his cars had failed to win a single race after two seasons in the movie Grand Prix - it was walking away from the sport, leaving FOTA short of a vital member and the 2010 grid back down to twelve teams.

In the wake of BMW's withdrawal, and FOTA's subsequent claim that it would aid the German-Swiss team, there has been talk of Peter Sauber - who still owns a stake in the outfit - taking over or maybe even Joan Villadelprat, whose Epsilon Euskadi outfit failed to make it through the FIA's original selection process, for reasons the Spaniard has every reason to feel seriously miffed. Furthermore, there is talk of Litespeed (Lotus) giving serious consideration to resubmitting its entry, the British outfit believed to have already contacted Bernie Ecclestone.

However, the big problem facing the FIA if it does opt to replace BMW is in the choice of engine supplier.

On the one hand it might well opt for another Cosworth team, even though this would be in breach of the current rules which restrict engine suppliers to two teams unless there is a special agreement with, wait for it... the FIA. On the other hand, the FIA could allow one of the manufacturers to provide the powerplants, though this would raise other issues.

Firstly, with Mercedes currently supplying three teams and Renault, Ferrari and Toyota two apiece, any new team wanting engines from one of the manufacturers would need the permission of the FIA. Then again, there is the comment recently made by an FIA spokesman in response to claims that the selection process for the three new F1 teams favoured those intending to run Cosworth powerplants.

Asked to comment on what, to some, appeared to be bias in favour of Cosworth, the spokesman said: "The FIA has always considered the availability of an independent supply of engines to the new Formula One entrants and the other independent teams to be a priority. Without the independent supply of F1 engines, the whole grid would be at the mercy of the car industry and no new team would be able to enter without their permission. Existing independent teams would also have to follow their instructions. An independent supply of engines is essential to a healthy Formula One."

Now how would it look, if the FIA, in its infinite wisdom, were to allow one of the manufacturers to supply a newcomer especially when the newcomer is replacing one of those self same manufacturers the FIA warned us all about.

Yes, engine-wise, the FIA is in a bit of a pickle.

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