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DECEMBER 7, 2004

Formula 1 team bosses open up but say little

Nine of the 10 Formula 1 teams met in London yesterday and invited members of the media to join them for a part of the meeting, presumably to demonstrate their solidarity in the fight against Ferrari over the question of control tyres and the reduction of testing. Ferrari did not attend the meeting but sent a letter proposing an alternatively arrangement to reduce testing. The teams want 24 days of testing in the season while Ferrari suggested a maximum of 15,000km with an additional 15,000km for each of the tyre companies. But the Ferrari proposal called for the tyre manufacturers to be able to choose the teams with which they would test. Michelin would naturally split the testing equally between the seven teams it will be supplying (giving them each 2142km each) while Ferrari would do all of the Bridgestone testing, given the team an appreciable advantage. The teams agreed to stick together and requested the FIA to provide for four hours of testing on Fridays at the races for the teams which agree not to test between events. The FIA used this mechanism to create the so-called Heathrow Testing Rules last year and could do so again for 2005.

The teams also agreed to push ahead with the plan to get control tyres although the cancellation of the Formula 1 Commission means that this cannot be dealt with before Christmas and so will not come into effect until January 1, 2007. The teams however are understood to have explored the possibility of introducing this rule without having to give 12 months of warning to the tyre companies. There is apparently no legal need to do that although the team bosses appear to accept that there is a moral consideration.

We understand that the teams also agreed to keep the qualifying structure which the FIA has introduced.

The teams are believed to have discussed the calendar and we believe that despite rumours to the contrary the British GP is still on, even if the French GP now looks likely to be moved from its April 17 date to July. If this happens one can only assume that the British GP will be moved to April as it is doubtful that the teams would have agreed to three races on consecutive weekends as Britain is scheduled for July 3 and Germany for July 17. Bernie Ecclestone has been quoted as saying that the British GP has only 48 hours to agree a deal but this does appear to have been a big issue at the meeting.

The one part of the meeting that no-one was willing to discuss is what the teams concluded on the subject of Max Mosley's recent decision to cancel the Formula 1 Commission meeting. The move caused considerable discontent amongst the F1 team owners and some of the promoters are also understood to be less than happy but whatever the discussions, there is clearly a vow of secrecy surrounding the planned course of action.