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Red Bull and Ferrari withdraw from Fota over spending cap

Ferrari and Red Bull quit the Formula One Teams Association to cast doubt over the future of the organisation

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Red Bull joined Ferrari in leaving Fota this weekPhoto: Getty Images, courtesy of Red Bull Racing

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Formula 1 giants Ferrari and Red Bull have quit the Formula One Teams Association (Fota), leaving the future of the organisation in doubt.

The two teams made the move after Fota failed to reach an agreement on the sport’s Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA), which caps team spending.

Reigning world champions Red Bull said in a statement: “The team will remain committed to finding a solution regarding cost-saving in F1.”

“Fota’s drive has run its course,” added Ferrari in a separate statement. “It was taken reluctantly after analysing the current situation and the stalemate when it came to debate on some issues that were at the core of why the association was formed.”

Fota was formed in 2008 with the aim of representing the interests of the teams when dealing with the sport’s governing body, the FIA and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, with 11 of the 12 teams on the grid members and perennial backmarkers HRT the only exception.

The organisation introduced the original RRA, which determined a number of limitations on resources – including staffing numbers, external spending, and aerodynamic research – in a bid to reduce spending and the disproportionate benefits the bigger teams had.

The agreement–which is not part of the FIA rules but a document produced by the teams–was created in 2009 as a precursor to a more detailed set of conditions.

The initial harmony and efficiency of the group has been tested recently, with allegations that some teams had breached the agreement in 2010. Factions had also risen within the organisation as to the best way to move forward.

A meeting last weekend between the team principals at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix failed to reach an agreement, leading to the decision from Red Bull and Ferrari.

“It was a difficult decision and a great deal of thought went into it,” said a Ferrari spokesperson.

“It was taken reluctantly after analysing the current situation and the stalemate when it came to debate on some issues that were at the core of why the association was formed.

“Now, however, it is necessary to find some new impetus to move it along because Fota’s drive has run its course.”

Ferrari maintain that they are committed to cutting costs in the sport, but also want to see more testing opportunities for young drivers in additional to the Young Drivers’ Test in Abu Dhabi at the end of the season, and the traditional pre-season tests, which are rarely beneficial to teams looking to shakedown their new cars ahead of the season opener.

The departure should not come as too much of a surprise given the recent frustration with the organisation.

Speaking at the Korean Grand Prix in November, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: “I think that Fota has reached the crossroads where it needs to deal with some of the key issues moving forward or we’ll stop. It’s as simple as that.

“The principal issues are obviously the Concorde Agreement, the direction that goes in, and fundamentally the RRA. If we can’t find agreement within Fota on that, then what is the purpose of Fota?”

Should an agreement be reached over the RRA, Red Bull and Ferrari could still reverse their decision to leave the organisation, as Fota statutes mandate for a two-month notice period, meaning the teams will leave in February.

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