FOTA finish for F1 teams' association
LONDON (Reuters) - The Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) has been disbanded after members decided it was no longer needed as a representative body.
FOTA said in a statement the teams had "re-evaluated their requirements in the face of a changing political and commercial landscape in Formula One".
General secretary Oliver Weingarten told Reuters there had been some financial issues with unpaid subscriptions and also warned the sport was facing "a crisis or two around the corner" without the association.
A FOTA document seen by Reuters listed activities last year that benefited all teams including negotiations with circuits for testing and with tire supplier Pirelli over branding issues.
Formed in 2008, the organization was intended to lend the teams a united voice in negotiations with commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone and the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA).
However the unity was broken in 2011 when champions Red Bull, Ferrari and Sauber left amid disagreements about cost-cutting. Only seven of the 11 teams were officially in FOTA last year.
The group was led by McLaren principal Martin Whitmarsh, who has lost control of that team since his predecessor Ron Dennis regained charge, and Lotus principal Eric Boullier who has now joined McLaren.
The top teams are now in an F1 strategy group set up under the terms of the new 'Concorde Agreement', the document which governs the sport, agreed with Ecclestone and the FIA. That group met on Friday.
FOTA's disappearance may be missed most of all by regular fans, with the body organizing popular forums ahead of some races with drivers and team officials answering questions from the public.
"The reaction from fans has been one of shock on coming to terms with the fact they may lose a point of contact for interacting with the sport through the fan forums," said Weingarten.