* HRT leave F1 team association
* FOTA say they had not paid their membership fees
(Adds FOTA comment, byline)
By Alan Baldwin
LONDON, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Hispania (HRT) are no longer part of the Formula One Teams Association because they failed to pay their membership dues, the body’s general secretary said on Monday.
A spokeswoman for the financially-struggling Spanish-owned team had said earlier that it no longer made sense for them to be members.
“We left FOTA around Dec. 15,” she said. “For our interests it is better not to be there. It’s more for the big teams than the small ones.”
FOTA general secretary Simone Perillo told Reuters that the team had failed to pay their dues.
“I can confirm that Hispania Racing F1 Team did not fulfil their 2010 FOTA membership fee obligations,” he said, without disclosing how much was owing of the 100,000 euro ($129,100) annual fee.
The other 11 teams remain members of the Swiss-based organisation which allows them to speak as a united group in talks with the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) and commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone.
There could be a surge in paddock politics over the next year after a relatively quiet 2010, with the confidential Concorde Agreement that governs the sport’s commercial side expiring at the end of next year.
FOTA, chaired by McLaren principal Martin Whitmarsh with Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali as his deputy, has in place a ‘resource restriction agreement’ (RRA) between teams designed to limit their spending and cut the costs of competing.
The teams are seeking to renew that agreement between themselves with a new one to run from 2011 to 2017 but a consensus has been hard to reach on budget limits and what falls within the spending restrictions.
“We are all in favour of containing costs moving forward, and the RRA is a good way of achieving that as long as it is consistent, fair, equitable and transparent across all the activities of all the teams,” Christian Horner, boss of champions Red Bull, told autosport.com at the weekend.
Horner, who chairs the FOTA sporting regulations working group, denied also that Red Bull had overspent last year and breached the agreement.
Hispania, who struggled to make the starting grid for their debut race last season, are considered have the smallest budget of any team and their future has been under considerable scrutiny.
However team principal Colin Kolles said they would be present at pre-season tests and there were no doubts about their participation in the championship.
The team last week announced that Indian Narain Karthikeyan would be one of their two drivers.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Sonia Oxley and Justin Palmer; To query or comment on this story email@example.com