Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has issued an call for F1 teams, the FIA and the governing body to come together urgently to resolve the issue of costs in the sport.
With Europe teetering on the verge of a major financial crisis as the Euro is threatened by the Spanish debt situation, Montezemolo argues that the sport can no longer talk around the subject, but must put a plan in place.
The failure to agree an extended Resource Restriction Agreement was the reason why FOTA fell apart last Christmas when Ferrari and Red Bull withdrew taking Toro Rosso and Sauber with them. The RRA served a purpose up to a point, but was fraught with problems as the big teams all found ways around it, particularly in the last 18 months.
It has been a subject on the agenda ever since the break-up, but now with many of the teams feeling the pinch and some target companies holding back on sponsorship deals due to uncertainty over the economy, the situation is acute.
With the June 30 deadline looming to bring in a new FIA regulated plan in time for the 2013 season, the Ferrari boss says that all parties need to act now in the interests of the sport.
“The world economic situation and that of Europe in particular, is very serious and the world of Formula 1 cannot ignore the fact,” he said on Ferrari.com today.
“We cannot lose any more time: we need to tackle urgently and with determination the question of costs. Ferrari is in agreement with the FIA’s position that drastic intervention is required.
“We are absolutely convinced that, as I have always said, the teams and the commercial rights holder must work together with the Federation on this front. This is no longer the moment for getting bogged down in sterile discussions or the meanderings of engineers, usually only concerned in defending the interests of someone or other: the question has to be tackled at the highest level, without further delay.”
The smaller teams argue that a cost cap is the only effective solution; teams would be given a budget limit, controlled by the FIA, but they could spend the money however they want. Drivers, marketing and engines would probably have to sit outside of it.
At the same time, the subject of the cost of the 2014 engines is also on people’s minds, with some factions within the sport keen to see introduction of the new generation 2014 engines delayed.
As with all new technology there is significant development cost and although the two main engine manufacturers in F1, Renault and Mercedes, want to go with the new generation engines, there are plenty of people, led by Bernie Ecclestone, who don’t.
The fear is that the cost will be passed on to customers and that will be prohibitive for smaller teams.
Mercedes’ Norbert Haug admitted that there would be up front costs for teams, “It’s a bit premature to give a figure, but we should realise where we are coming from. The engines cost twice as much 10 years ago as they do right now and that’s due to the hard work of the manufacturers in the first place. It’s absolutely clear that if you introduce a new engine it will cost more in the beginning,” he said at the weekend.
“What we should do is consider a five-year period where the target is close to current spending levels and I think that’s achievable.”
Watch out for quite a bit of behind the scenes action on costs in the next two weeks as that June 30 deadline approaches.