THE FORMULA ONE TEAMS ASSOCIATION has held last-ditch talks with FIA President Max Mosley in an attempt to reach a compromise agreement ahead of the 2010 entry list announcement tonight.
Ferrari?s Luca di Montezemolo, along with Toyota boss John Howett, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and Brawn GP owner Ross Brawn were reportedly engaged in talks with Mosley for over four hours, seeking to diffuse the situation which has left Formula 1 potentially at breaking point.
Mosley is believed to have warmed to the prospect of reaching a deal with FOTA which would see the teams operate under a ?100 million cap next year before reaching ?40 million in 2011.
However, the Briton isn?t prepared to finalise any arrangements unless the eight FOTA aligned teams submit unconditional entries.
The situation has been further muddied by the revelation Ferrari, Renault, BMW, Toyota and McLaren signed a contract compelling each other to remain united or face the prospect of a ?50 million fine, although the FIA doubts the legitimacy of the agreement, claiming it isn?t valid under EU law.
Regardless, Formula 1 is set for potentially the most explosive day in its history, with teams still unclear on the FIA's intentions until it releases the 2010 entry list at 8pm (Australian EST) tonight.
A potential scenario that has been bandied about within the F1 media would see the FIA name Ferrari, Red Bull and Toro Rosso along with unconditional entrants Williams, Force India and a further eight new entries.
The FIA believes Ferrari and the Red Bull duo are contractually obliged to compete next year after signing a contract in 2005 pledging their future to the sport. The Scuderia outfit meanwhile says that deal is no longer valid as the FIA altered the regulations without consulting the Maranello-based team.
If Mosley decides to take this route, it would likely accelerate preparations for a breakaway championship next season, featuring a FOTA-filled 24 car grid.
Ross Brawn believes the release of an entry list without FOTA teams could prove disastrous.
"If 10 (non-FOTA) teams are given an entry, there's a major problem," the former Ferrari Technical Director said. "So I hope, even if it's a holding position until we can sort this out, that there's a solution."
Another scenario would see the FIA confirm the admittance of only five teams ? Williams, Force India and an additional three new entries ? while leaving eight spots empty pending the result of negotiations.
The ongoing saga however does seem to have claimed a casualty, with Renault Sport rumoured to have contacted suppliers advising of their intention to withdraw from Formula 1 pending the result of negotiations between FOTA and the FIA.
A letter sent to suppliers was obtained by motorsport-total.com, saying: ?There is the possibility that we will no longer be in Formula 1 in 2010. The far-reaching changes to the technical and sporting regulations have the consequence that Renault Sport can no longer be certain of its future in Formula 1. It is possible that we will no longer participate in the Formula 1 World Championship in 2010.?
Renault Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn has long been critical of governance in Formula 1, recently declaring that teams deserve a greater share of the financial rewards currently reaped by Bernie Ecclestone.
According to AFP, he told the French National Assembly: ?We are the ones putting on the show, who bring in the technology, who bring in the engines, who hire the driver. Today we pay to be in Formula 1; that is not normal. Intermediaries have made enough money out of this. We want to take back control of Formula 1.?
Ecclestone however believes the teams would not be able to replicate the glamour and financial clout of the current Formula 1 series without his input.
He told the Daily Express; ?It costs a lot of money to set up a series. Right now, we supply the venues at no cost to the teams, they roll up with all their sponsors? names and money and race in front of a huge television audience which I supply through the contracts we win.
?That money flows back to the teams and they spend it. It would be different when they have to provide all the venues, hire their own race people, find their own television companies ? and we have the best ? and promote it.?