The threat of a breakaway series remains a viable "alternative", FOTA vice-chairman John Howett insists.

The threat of a breakaway series remains a viable "alternative", FOTA vice-chairman John Howett insists.

Shortly before the conflict between the eight rebel teams and the governing body reignited on Wednesday, the Toyota team principal suggested that a resumption of hostilities could again lead to the threat of exodus.

The Briton is quoted by the Financial Times Deutschland as saying FOTA's breakaway plans have "not been buried yet".

Howett said he hopes the Paris peace accord becomes a reality, "however if anything was to happen, we do have alternatives".

On Wednesday, Howett's doubts rapidly materialised, when during a meeting in Germany the FIA's Charlie Whiting provoked a FOTA walkout by saying that non-FOTA teams, including the three new 2010 entrants, must consent to next year's amended rules.

British newspapers then reported the curious moment when, as Jenson Button arrived at Dusseldorf airport for the Nurburgring event, his team boss Ross Brawn was speeding through departures to return to London for emergency FOTA talks.

"What a shameful mess," said the Daily Mail, echoing widespread dismay that, as at Silverstone, another race weekend of political reporting seems on the agenda.

Said the Daily Telegraph: "Yet another race weekend is set to be overshadowed by off rather than on-track pyrotechnics."

Britain's Guardian newspaper senses the wily hand of controversial FIA president Max Mosley, attempting to prolong the saga so that FOTA will run out of "time to organise a breakaway series".

An unnamed team insider said giving the new teams power over next year's rules is "extremely provocative", adding: "Max really seems to have gone out of his way to wind everybody up on this issue.

"Most of us think that they should not be allowed a vote on these matters, although by all means let them attend the meetings and listen to what is being discussed," the insider said.

A reader of the American website neatly observed: "Time for FOTA to put up or grab their ankles."