Paris, Sunday: An emergency meeting over dinner between members of the Formula One Teams’ Association last night descended into carnage with disputes between members causing massive disruption to the normal operation of the restaurant where they were dining.
After examining the menus for some time, Ferrari team principal Luca di Montezemolo expressed his concern that the meals appeared to be extremely cheap, “unfairly restricting” the total cost of the bill at the end of the night. Toyota’s John Howett echoed Montezemolo’s reservations, pointing out that such cheap food could allow unwanted extra guests to join them at the table “without first having properly contributed to the establishment of the restaurant.”
FIA President Max Mosley, also present, suggested that Montezemolo and other team bosses could spend as much as they liked on the meal, but should only be allowed to eat lasagne and drink Spanish red wine, while those who agreed in principle with the restaurant’s low prices would be able to consume whatever they liked.
Montezemolo, with the backing of other team principals, expressed outrage at this statement, then claimed that he was in two minds about whether he was going to spend anything at all, or simply leave the restaurant without paying and set up his own restaurant where everybody could eat as much as they liked until dead from obesity or legally bankrupt.
Frank Williams and Force India’s Vijay Mallya initially supported this threat, but eventually elected to pay the bill after all, Williams suggesting that he felt “morally and legally obliged” to do so, given that they had been visiting the restaurant for some years and never been let down thus far.
The whole dinner then descended into a shouting match as Montezemolo demanded that he and the other FOTA members be given a share of the tips earned by the restaurant’s staff, as well as implicitly suggesting that the head chef be sacked.