Williams and McLaren plan to take FIA to court

LONDON: Leading Formula One teams Williams and McLaren threatened yesterday to take motor racing's governing body, FIA, to court over changes to Grand Prix racing. 

In a joint statement, the British-based teams claimed the Internationale Automobile Federation's new regulations for the 2003 World Championship would “dumb down” the sport. 

They believe the FIA was in breach of the contract that covers the running of the World Championship. 

They said they would race in the championship, which starts in Australia on March 9 with a raft of changes, including one lap qualifying and no refuelling between qualifying and the race, but planned to challenge the FIA's rule changes through the sport's arbitration process.  

The FIA said in a statement that any team was entitled to seek arbitration. 

“The FIA is confident that its position will be upheld,” it said. 

Team bosses Frank Williams and Ron Dennis said FIA president Max Mosley's changes would undermine Formula One as the pinnacle of motorsport and a technological showcase. 

“The FIA is trying to dumb down' Formula One,” Dennis said. 

“It has introduced sweeping new regulations for the 2003 season without proper consultation with the Teams. We want Formula One to be stable, well run and professionally administered to ensure the continued success of the sport.” 

“There is no doubt that Formula One needs to change and evolve and McLaren and Williams have always played a constructive role in initiating and supporting positive measures to improve our sport.” 

Williams claimed the changes were a knee-jerk reaction to slumping TV ratings last season when Michael Schumacher's Ferrari team won all but three of the 17 Grands Prix. 

“It is misleading to suggest that Formula One is in crisis - it remains a uniquely popular and highly successful sport,” Williams said. 

“Unfortunately, only a fraction of those revenues generated by Formula One remain in the sport and go to the teams. 

“Addressing this issue is the surest way of delivering stable and successful independent teams. 

“Some of these changes are against the spirit of Formula One, its restless drive for excellence and its need to live on the technological cutting edge,” Williams said. – AFP  

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