MARCH 25, 2006
A meeting at Maranello
The FIA met with Ferrari, Renault and Cosworth representatives at Maranello yesterday to discuss engine homologation proposals. It is not clear whether Renault was attending the meeting as a representative of the GPMA or in its own right. GPMA members have agreed not to negotiate over commercial matters but discussions over technical issues are presumably not covered by that agreement. The FIA was represented by Max Mosley, Charlie Whiting and Peter Wright, a former F1 designer from Team Lotus days. There are indications that an agreement was reached to freeze engine development until the end of 2012 with the aim of reducing costs considerably. Such a move would obviously favour those with good engines (such as Renault and Cosworth) but would handicap those who have less performance at the moment. What is not clear is whether the deal could go beyond the basic hardware involved as much engine performance these days is based on the electronic control units of the engines. The idea that performance should be stopped in its tracks is something which is fundamentally against the philosophy of F1 which has always been about constant development. There will still be constant development in areas where it is allowed but some manufacturers may not consider this to be sufficient to warrant interest in the sport, particularly those with a power disadvantage.
Formula 1 has a big problem if the car manufacturers do decide to walk away because Cosworth, Ferrari and Renault currently supply only five teams between them and there are plans for 12 teams in 2008. If the car companies simply walk away and do not supply F1 engines there will be a serious shortage. In time new companies will spring up, manned no doubt by people from the manufacturer teams who want to be involved in F1, but that is going to take time and if engines are frozen for five years it is difficult to see how newcomers can be allowed to enter without gaining an appreciable advantage over those who have had their engines frozen for several years.
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