More restrictions coming on testing

The Formula 1 team principals met yesterday in Shanghai to discuss sporting rules which would help to cut costs in F1. The principal decision appears to have been to further reduce testing so that teams do just 20,000km next year. It seems that, after the winter testing programmes, the teams have now agreed to run only one car at every test.

This means that there is now no need for F1 test drivers, although youngsters will still get the chance to run in F1 machinery thanks to the four days of testing set aside for them. It is, however, bad news for the more experienced testers who will end up not being able to do anything as the race drivers will drive as much as they can.

With regard to the race meetings, things are not going to change in 2009 because there are too many complicated commitments to different promoters and so it is hard to come up with a new format. There has been talk of having a money race on a Friday to kick the weekend off with a bang, but there is also talk of reducing the race meetings to two-day affairs.

This will not help the promoters because they often rely on local support which is based on income from the races. This will reduce dramatically if hotels cannot charge five-night minimums and restaurants cannot hike their prices. Reducing the show on offer would presumably mean that F1 would negotiate on fees that needed to be paid. If not one can imagine that more promoters may choose to drop out of the World Championship, as France has done.

Reducing the number of races is actually not a bad thing for the Formula One group when it is faced with the teams demanding more money to attend extra events. The teams are contracted to race a certain number of times a year and anything beyond that means that additional payments must be made. This perhaps explains the abrupt decision to cancel Canada and the willingness of FOM to let France drop out as well.

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