Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mosley: A step in the right direction

Saturday 13th December 2008

FIA president Max Mosley believes Formula One has taken its first step towards salvation by introducing a raft of ideas designed to save over a billion pounds per season.

Drastic action has been forced upon the sport in the wake of the global economic crisis which last Friday sparked Honda's shock withdrawal.

Just seven days ago there were heightened fears for the entire future of Formula One. But drastic times call for drastic measures, and Mosley, uniting with the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA), are to implement a wide range of cost cuts from next year.

Mosley anticipates the changes for 2009 will save the manufacturer teams approximately 30% of their budgets compared to this year, whilst the savings will be even greater for the independents.

As from 2010, when more stringent changes will be enforced, Mosley expects teams to be on budgets of less than half their current spend.

Ultimately, the goal is a budget of around £45million per team per season, in stark contrast to the £200-300million currently spent.

"We're now going to become much more cost effective," was Mosley's enthusiastic response following a four-hour meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Monte Carlo.

"I think this is probably the first step towards Formula One saving itself because everybody recognised the situation had become very serious and that something needed to be done.

"The teams have now really got behind the idea, and instead of being reluctant, they are being positive.

"That's made a huge difference, and I think we can now get it under control."

For 2009 engine life will be doubled, with the cost of engines to independent teams approximately 50% of 2008 prices.

There will be no in-season testing outside of a grand prix weekend, a reduction on wind-tunnel testing, whilst factories will close for six weeks per year.

There will also be a reduction in manpower by a number of means, including sharing information on tyres and fuel to eliminate the need for 'spotters'.

For 2010, the major regulation changes include engines available to the independent teams for less than £4.5million per season.

They will be supplied by Cosworth, as an independent supplier, or one of the manufacturers, but with strict guarantees imposed, with that engine to be used for three years from 2010.

Chassis development will be strictly regulated, whilst during a race weekend there will be a ban on tyre warmers and re-fuelling, and possibly a reduction in race distance or duration.

The FIA and FOTA are to also study the possibility of a new power train (engine and gearbox) for 2013 based on energy efficiency.

"It's a major step forward," insisted Mosley.

"Obviously there is a crisis because of the falling car sales with the major manufacturers, and nobody knows if it will get worse before it gets better. We need to take care of that contingency.

"If a miracle happened and the whole world situation sorted itself out in the next couple of months, then all that would happen would be the teams would make a profit.

"But what's significant about these changes is when you walk down the pit lane, or you sit in the grandstand or watch on television, you will notice no difference at all.

"It will be Formula One as we all know it, but clearly much less expensive."

An inevitable consequence of the changes will be job losses, with Mosley expecting teams to whittle their 700-1000 strong work-forces down to 200 over time.

"What the teams are saying is what they will try and do is bring in-house a lot of work that they currently contract out," stated Mosley.

"But inevitably, in any industry, if you reduce the costs then you reduce the number of people.

"There are some obvious immediate losses because at the moment they take people to every race to do nothing except spot the fuel and tyres of the other teams.

"Those people will disappear because they're now going to share the information.

"But unfortunately, job losses, that's just part of cutting costs.

"But if you see it from the other point of view, they currently employ between 700 and 1000 people just to put two cars on the grid. In any event that is not sustainable.

"Even if nothing was wrong with the economy worldwide, it couldn't possibly operate at that level for very long."

As for supremo Bernie Ecclestone's proposal to replace the current points system with medals, market research is to be conducted on whether it is a valid idea.

"Bernie's wedded to medals, but it will be genuinely interesting to see what the fans say because they do pay the bills," added Mosley.

Source : Planet F1

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