The FIA claims that a package of changes announced on December 12 will reduce Formula 1 costs by as much as 30 per cent in 2009. More measures for 2010 – including a ban on refuelling which would completely change the complexion of races – will contribute to a further reduction in expenditure.
The dramatic cost-cutting package was signed off by the World Motor Sport Council after Max Mosley met with the Formula One Teams’ Association. The ruling was made just days after the shock of Honda’s withdrawal (see p13), and the meeting was marked by an unprecedented degree of unanimity as all those involved realised a crisis point had been reached, and that other manufacturers could also leave the sport. The meeting was hailed as an extremely positive one by both Mosley and FOTA chairman Luca di Montezemolo.
The most dramatic change for 2009 is that there will be no testing at all after the start of the season, putting an extra focus on the Fridays of race weekends.
The other major cost saving concerns engines. As already announced they will have to last for three race weekends, and there will be a maximum of 20 available for each team, including testing. In order to extend engine life the rev limit will be cut from 19,000rpm to 18,000. No internal re-tuning will be allowed by way of adjustment, although trumpets and injectors can be modified. And most significantly, customer engine suppliers will have to cut their prices by 50 per cent from their 2008 rates.
From January 1 teams will not be allowed to do any full scale wind tunnel testing – 60 per cent is the new maximum – and ‘a formula to balance wind tunnel-based research against CFD research, if agreed between the teams, will be proposed to the FIA’.
Efforts will be made to cut back on race weekend staff, and in addition factories will be closed for six weeks a year – although it remains to be seen how that will be achieved.
Mosley’s push for a standard engine from 2010 has been shelved; instead manufacturers have agreed to offer supplies at less than €5m per annum. The FIA has said engines can also be sourced from an independent supplier, in effect Cosworth, which had been lined up to produce the standard engine. Mosley’s plan for a standard gearbox from 2010 remains in place, ‘subject to confirmation of practicability’.
On the chassis side, the FIA and the teams will decide which elements of the cars are ‘performance differentiators’. Efforts will be made to cut costs on items that do not fall into that category by making them standard.
In addition to the refuelling ban the FIA is considering cutting race distances, while other measures include further aero research cuts and efforts to reduce factory expenditure.
The engine rules will remain in place until 2012, and for 2013 the FIA and FOTA will investigate a more energy-efficient engine. The FIA has back-pedalled on the contentious and expensive introduction of KERS, stressing that it is not compulsory for 2009, and indicating that FOTA is exploring a standard (and cheaper) system for 2010. Adam Cooper
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