OCTOBER 22, 2008
Keeping below the radar
The Formula One Teams' Assocation (FOTA) has been very keen to keep itself out of the newspapers in recent weeks, despite the best efforts of the FIA to make the rule changes into a public debate. The meeting yesterday in Geneva produced what a two-line press statement described as "significant cost savings" for 2009 and 2010. The statement went on to say that FOTA was working urgently on further proposals.
There were no details of the deal but it has since emerged that the meeting managed to get agreement on a number of key points. The engine life will be increased from two to three races in 2009 and in order to help the smaller teams manufacturers must be prepared to supply 25 engines to a customer team, at a cost of 10m Euros ($13.2m). This will significantly reduce the cost of customer engine for the smaller teams. There is further talk of testing restrictions to be decided at a meeting in Brazil and an agreement to introduce a standardised KERS system in 2010 or 2011. This last item comes at a time when some teams have spent as much as $50m on development of the devices. However standardising KERS is much more logical than standardising engines as it has been clear for some months that KERS will not create much differentiation between the teams and thus will just be an added expense for little gain. The FIA, of course, wants to keep some environmental element in the sport in order for the sport to be doing something.
It was decided to meet again after the end of the season to discuss ways in which to reduce the costs of chassis development and whether or not customer chassis should be allowed in the future.
What is clear from the meeting is that there will be no standardised engines.
The meeting is interesting in that it is the first time that all the teams have stood together against the FIA, including Ferrari which almost always supports the federation.
Given that the public does not seem overly interested in the process by which the rules are made, it is probably best to keep the details out of the public eye.