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Formula One must cut costs, says FIA president

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Sat, Sep 08, 2012 13:56 hrs
Ferrari's F1 Formula One driver Fernando Alonso of Spain drives to the Monaco F1 Grand Prix

Formula One risks becoming unsustainable and must cut costs further to keep all 12 teams in the championship, International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Jean Todt said on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters at the Italian Grand Prix after an informal meeting at Ferrari's Maranello headquarters with the team's president Luca Di Montezemolo and Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, Todt hoped things were moving.

"Anyway, it's a will to move in the right direction," the Frenchman declared.

"Formula One is too expensive...what are the priorities? reduce the cost, improve the show, implement new technologies, have a vision for the future because the world is changing."

Todt told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper in an interview after the Belgian Grand Prix that costs needed to be reduced by 30 percent in the next three years or several teams would be lost.

On Saturday, he was reluctant to put a figure on the savings required or offer details about how they would be obtained.

"Don't ask me for a commitment. It's up to the teams to work with our people, the commercial rights holder," he said. "We need to agree what to do otherwise it will be unsustainable.

"We must reduce the costs in order to keep everybody on board. I prefer to present it like that."

NEW ENGINE

All of the leading teams except for Mercedes have signed up for a new 'Concorde' commercial agreeement, committing them to the championship until 2020 in return for a greater share of the revenues.

The existing agreement expires at the end of this year and the teams' renewal is an important element of plans, currently stalled, for a flotation of Formula One.

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn said this week that the discussions had been tough but Mercedes were very committed to the sport and he was optimistic a solution was near.

Next season promises to be more expensive for teams, however, with an all-new hybrid 1.6 litre V6 turbocharged engine to be developed for 2014 along with the 2013 cars. Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault are likely to be the sole suppliers.

There is no renewed 'Resource Restriction Agreement' in place to keep costs under close control and there are fears of a new 'spending war' breaking out with some teams already having budgets far greater than others.

While the richest teams' annual war chests are estimated in excess of $200 million, those at the bottom - such as HRT who are based in recession-hit Spain - are likely to scrape by on around $40 million.

The FIA had set a June deadline for agreement to cost-cutting measures to be policed by the governing body but that came and went without a deal.

June was the cut-off point after which decisions for next year must be agreed unanimously, always hard to achieve in a sport of vested interests, rather than by a majority vote.

Some of the smaller teams would like to see some sort of budget cap with the FIA as 'policeman' but others disagree.

Christian Horner, principal of champions Red Bull, told reporters at the Belgian Grand Prix that Formula One should not be run by accountants.

He has also pointed out the difference between the engineering resources of a major car and engine manufacturer like Mercedes or Ferrari and Red Bull, a company that sells energy drinks.

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