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F1 steers towards more frugal future

December 13, 2008 00:00 IST

Formula One teams will cut their costs by almost a third next year under a package of measures approved on Friday to secure the sport's future in the face of the global credit crunch.

The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement that independent teams would see engine costs halved in 2009, with a year's supply priced at under five million euros ($6.63 million) from 2010 compared to at least 15 million at present.

Testing will be banned during the season other than at regular Friday practice at grand prix weekends.

From 2010, refuelling will cease and grand prix distances could be shortened.

The FIA estimated the new measures would save manufacturer-owned teams the equivalent of 30 percent of their 2008 budgets next year, with independent teams seeing even more reductions.

The measures come with the sport staring into the abyss, with the manufacturers who own half of the teams facing plunging sales and share prices.

Honda, who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars for scant reward, have already announced they are pulling out -- triggering fears another carmaker could quit before the season starts in Australia [Images] on March 29.

"I think this is probably the first step towards Formula One saving itself," FIA president Max Mosley told reporters.

"What's significant about these changes is when you walk down the pit lane, or you sit in the grandstand or watch television, you will notice no difference at all. It will be Formula One as we all know it but clearly much less expensive."

CHEAPER ENGINES

The FIA's world motor sport's council, approving changes unanimously agreed by the teams, said engines would be detuned to 18,000 rpm and have to last for three races next season rather than two.

The teams will be limited to a maximum of 20 engines per season, eight for each of the two drivers and four for testing -- about half their current usage.

"Engines will be available to the independent teams for less than five million euros per team per season," the FIA said looking ahead to 2010.

"These will either come from an independent supplier or be supplied by the manufacturer teams backed by guarantees of continuity. If an independent supplier, the deal will be signed no later than 20 December 2008.

"This same engine will continue to be used in 2011 and 2012 (thus no new engine for 2011)."

There will be restrictions on the use of costly wind tunnels from January and reductions on the number of team personnel attending races.

Mosley recognised there would be job losses, with teams expected to cut their work forces significantly in a further cost saving.

"Inevitably, in any industry, if you reduce the costs then you reduce the number of people," said the Briton.

"But if you see it from the other point of view, they (the teams) currently employ between 700 and 1,000 people just to put two cars on the grid. In any event that is not sustainable."

The new KERS system, which recovers energy generated under braking to produce additional bursts of power, will not be mandatory next season.

"For 2010, FOTA (the Formula One Teams Association) is considering proposals for a standard KERS system," the FIA said, adding it was awaiting proposals.

In the longer term the FIA and FOTA "will study the possibility of an entirely new power train for 2013 based on energy efficiency".

© Copyright 2008 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage

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