FIA Starts Legal Action Against FOTA

As I predicted earlier today, the FIA will be taking legal action against FOTA over their proposed breakaway series. The FIA claims that the FOTA teams have breached contractual obligations and violated competition laws. They also singled out Ferrari in their legal action for their breach of commercial agreements with the FIA.

The focus on Ferrari would seem to indicate that the FIA believes that Ferrari is either the master architect of the breakaway or they are the biggest draw for money and attention in F1. I said in a previous post that F1 didn’t really have a premier event that could sway a war either way. However, having Ferrari in one camp could sway the outcome of a battle in that direction. Further proof would be the fact that Red Bull and Toro Rosso have a commercial agreement with the FIA but have not been singled out by the FIA.

Meanwhile, after yesterday’s FOTA announcement, Force India has stated their continuing commitment to the 2010 Formula One Championship. There had been some speculation that the five non-FOTA teams currently accepted in the 2010 F1 season (Force India, Williams, US F1, Campos, and Manor) may jump ship to the FOTA championship. There is also some speculation that some teams on the FIA’s reserve list, such as Prodrive, would fill the grid in the FOTA series.

Contrary to their initial response to the FOTA announcement of a new series, the FIA will not announce the final entry list for the 2010 Formula One World Championship today. They are waiting until their legal actions are complete.

FIA Press Release (June 19, 2009)

The FIA’s lawyers have now examined the FOTA threat to begin a breakaway series. The actions of FOTA as a whole, and Ferrari in particular, amount to serious violations of law including wilful interference with contractual relations, direct breaches of Ferrari’s legal obligations and a grave violation of competition law. The FIA will be issuing legal proceedings without delay.

Preparations for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship continue but publication of the final 2010 entry list will be put on hold while the FIA asserts its legal rights.

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