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FIA, FOTA ward off breakaway threat

PARIS, June 25 – Formula One's world governing body the FIA and teams association FOTA agreed on Wednesday that there will be no breakaway championship next season after talks in Paris to ward off a threatened split.MCLAREN_CAR"There will be no split – there will be one championship in 2010," said FIA president Max Mosley, who has agreed not to seek re-election to his post as part of the deal.

"We have reached agreement on a number of items. In particular we have reached agreement on reduction of costs – we have had significant help from the FOTA teams.

"The objective is to get back to early 1990s (spending) levels within two years."

Formula One commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone declared he was "very happy common sense has prevailed".

The accord followed a meeting of 120 members of the FIA and came in the wake of weeks of bitter rowing between the two bodies which centred on proposed tough spending limits from next season.

Ahead of the meeting, Mosley had insisted that he would not step down as part of any potential agreement and said he could possibly seek re-election.

The 69-year-old Briton, whose fourth term as president ends in October, has been under pressure amid the disagreements over the proposed swingeing budget cuts but said he would not change his stance after Wednesday’s meeting.

"I will not be up for re-election, now we have peace," Mosley stated, while denying he had been forced out and insisting the agreement was satisfactory to all parties and would provide stability.

"I can have a peaceful summer for the first time in three years. My departure was planned, agreed, arranged – all the staff have known for months but obviously I couldn’t say it publicly because the moment you do you lose all your influence."

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MAX_MOSLEYHe added the reduction of costs over two years would in essence mean there was no budget cap as such, dubbing the process "a different way of doing the same thing".

Mosley said: "I always thought there wasn’t much between us, now we’ve agreed there isn’t."
The Paris meeting was a clear-the-air opportunity for member clubs to hear from F1 teams about their threat to secede from the FIA and set up a rival series, a proposal which had led the FIA to prepare a legal claim against FOTA.

Writs against Ferrari and FOTA – which also includes McLaren, BMW Sauber, Renault, Toyota, Red Bull Racing, Toro Rosso and Brawn GP – had been due to be served on Monday, but the FIA held back pending Wednesday’s meeting.

At issue for the would-be breakaway teams were FIA plans to push through maximum budgets of 45 million euros per team – excluding driver wages and marketing costs – from 2010 onwards.

The breakaway threat had threatened to leave Formula One fighting for survival given the apparent huge gulf between big-money teams and the sport’s cost-conscious rulers.

Mosley, pinpointing Ferrari as the ringleader of the rebel teams, had slammed the breakaway threat as "amounting 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".

At the weekend Mosley had suggested a compromise would emerge "because they (FOTA) can’t afford not to run in the Formula One world championship, and we would be very reluctant to have that without them".

Only independent teams Williams and Force India had accepted the new proposed budget caps framework, along with three new teams, USF1, Campos and Manor, as Formula One fought to avoid what was dubbed a ‘financial arms race’.

Mosley said that new teams would receive help from existing ones in terms of chassis and engine development in order to help them become competitive as swiftly as possible.

The constructors have also agreed to maintain commercial agreements with Ecclestone at least until 2012, Mosley revealed.

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FOTA chairman, Fiat’s Luca di Montezemolo, said that the FOTA teams had "asked for things which were fair and realistic" and welcomed the breakthrough.

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