The International Automobile Federation (FIA) and its President Max "My Way or the Highway" Mosley seems determined to bully into submission the five members of the Grand Prix Manufacturers Association, who have threatened to set up a series in competition with Formula 1. On Wednesday, the FIA's motor sport council rubber stamped Mosley's plan to force teams to commit to participating in the 2008 Formula 1 championship by the end of March. A very interesting exchange of letters between the GPMA and Mosley before and after the council meeting shows that Mosley is playing hardball, and enjoying it.
Only teams who have pledged fealty to Mosley signed up for the 2008 season will be able to participate in discussions which will affect the rules package that goes into effect for the 2008 season. Despite the GPMA's 11th hour objections in its letter (pdf link) to Mosley,  the motor sport council's Wednesday meeting also approved the FIA's rules package (which will be the basis for discussion with the teams). Among other controversial elements of the package is a plan to freeze engine development for 3 years, starting in 2008. [More after the jump] The FIA's "2008 Sporting Regulations" were released Wednesday (you can find the pdf file here). Teams that sign up for the 2008 season by the end of the month will have until the end of June to negotiate the rules package with the FIA, at which time rules affecting the design of the cars will be frozen.

Meanwhile, the GPMA is reported to be close to a deal with Bernie Ecclestone on a new commercial rights agreement between the teams and Formula One Management, the commercial enterprise that manages the F1 series under a lease agreement with the FIA. However, signing up for the 2008 series does not mean that the manufacturers have to accept a commercial deal by the same deadline - the two are completely independent.

Confused yet? We certainly are. What seems likely to happen is that all the current teams will sign up for the 2008 season by the deadline. As a manufacturer's representative told GrandPrix.com, "We do not care if we are seen to lose the battle so long as we get what we want commercially and in relation to the rules. We are quite happy to let Max Mosley be seen to win. That is probably the best thing that can happen now."

[Sources: Reuters, FIA, GrandPrix.com]


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