Spa-Francorchamps, Saturday: Reports have emerged from the Formula One paddock that a meeting at a restaurant between members of FOTA again hit trouble during the evening.
Discussions between all parties were amicable over drinks in the foyer, but when the party was ushered to their table and began to choose their meals, trouble began. A group of team bosses, led by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, refused to commit to dining at the restaurant until they had seen the dessert menu, to ensure that there were no “nasty surprises” awaiting them at evening’s end.
A flustered maitre d’ informed the team principals that the desserts were subject to change at short notice, and thus a menu in advance could not be provided, but a fuming Montezemolo demanded that he and his associates be involved in any changes to the dessert menu before the evening was out. Eventually he threatened to leave entirely, and to spend the evening at another restaurant just down the road, originally founded by a rich Arab who had lost interest in the outfit, which had caused the business to struggle for survival.
Eventually agreement was reached between the FOTA members and the restaurant’s management, with concessions including a commitment to allow the diners greater say in the composition of all the menus, and the impending resignation of the head chef. The main course then continued without significant incident, though there was some whispered concern as to whether the rest of the group were prepared to pay Ross Brawn’s part of the bill.
During the main course, however, BMW’s Mario Theissen excused himself and did not return to the table, prompting much consternation among team principals when it emerged he had climbed out of the bathroom window and run away.
As the desserts arrived, Toyota’s John Howett attempted to make a similar exit, but was told, “Don’t even think about it.”