Formula E Teams’ Association (FETA) formed

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The ten teams competing in the inaugural FIA Formula E championship have confirmed that they have formed a specific organization to work with the bodies governing the series.

Set up with the aid of the former general secretary of the Formula One Teams’ Association Oliver Weingarten, the Formula E Teams’ Association (FETA) has been formed ahead of this weekend’s ePrix in Putrajaya, Malaysia. It will be chaired by Virgin Racing team principal Alex Tai.

“The association will provide a forum to respond to Formula E Holdings and the FIA on issues impacting the teams,” a statement confirming FETA’s founding reads. “The association’s goals are to ensure the championship remains competitive and compelling entertainment whilst maintaining cost control and the commercial sustainability of the series.

“The association also aims to suggest a development roadmap for the coming seasons which will drive technical innovation and attract the participation of the major car manufacturers, whilst at all times will seek to maintain, engage and increase the championship’s fan base.”

“I am delighted that we have set up the teams’ association as it is creates a vital forum for stakeholder discussions,” Tai said. “It is in everybody’s interest that Formula E is a success, and the teams want to play their part to ensure this.

“We are delighted to have brought Oliver on board; he brings with him a wealth of experience from Formula One and The English Premier League and will be a great asset.

“The teams are under no illusion that there will be issues that need to be addressed, but now we will be able to work through these challenges together, and with one voice, for the benefit of the championship.”

The electric-powered series enjoyed a strong debut race weekend in China two months ago, and appears to be going from strength to strength. The formation of FETA will only strengthen the series’ hand as it looks to grow during its inaugural season, as well as keeping the interests of the teams racing at heart.

Mercedes: F1 teams need to work together to avoid split

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said Friday that Formula One teams have a responsibility to try to overcome their differences over the future of the sport in the face of a threat by Ferrari to quit because of a number of proposed changes.

Bernie Ecclestone, who ran F1 for 40 years before being replaced by new owners Liberty Media last year, has raised the possibility that Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne could walk away from F1 and form a breakaway series over Liberty’s future vision for the sport.

Ferrari is unhappy with Liberty’s proposal to simplify engines and redistribute prize money among F1 teams after the current contract with teams expires at the end of 2020.

Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene would not comment on the specifics of Marchionne’s previous comments at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Friday, but said: “My only suggestion, please take him seriously.”

Wolff is also taking the possibility of Ferrari walking away seriously. He told Britain’s Press Association before the Australian GP that he agreed with Marchionne’s concerns and that Formula One can’t afford to alienate Ferrari or lose the team.

“Don’t mess with Sergio Marchionne,” he said. “Formula One needs Ferrari much more than Ferrari needs Formula One.”

Wolff was more diplomatic on Friday, saying he hopes all sides could come together for the good of the sport.

“I think this as much a battle on track as much as it is a fight off track for an advantage,” he said. “It is clear the current governance and how the rules are being made is not very functional. There’s too much different opinions and agendas on the table and we need to sort it for 2021 for the best interest of the sport.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner agreed there are too many competing agendas, suggesting that the FIA-Formula One’s governing body-and Liberty Media come together to decide on a set of regulations and financial framework for the next contract and the teams can then decide if they want to accept it or not.

“Trying to get a consensus between teams that have varying objectives, different set-ups, is going to be impossible,” he said. “It’s history repeating itself. It happens every five or six years, every time the Concorde Agreement comes up for renewal.”

Tempers also flared during Friday’s media conference over another issue of contention between the teams – Ferrari’s recent hiring of FIA’s ex-safety director, Laurent Mekies.

Horner believes Ferrari broke an agreement among teams at a recent meeting to institute a 12-month waiting period for any former employee of FIA or FOM (Formula One Management) to be able to start working for one of F1’s teams. The concern is that former FIA staff who go to work for a specific team could share secrets from other teams.

“Certain teams were pushing for that period to be three years, but in the end it was agreed upon being 12 months,” he said. “It almost makes those meetings pointless if we can’t agree on something and action it.”

Arrivabene defended Ferrari’s move, saying Mekies would not join its team until after a six-month “gardening leave” period.

“There is nothing wrong with that because we were absolutely respecting the local law, the Swiss local law where Laurent was hired,” he said.