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FIA publishes minutes of cost cutting meeting

June 18th, 2009


The last few days have seen letters flying back and forth between FOTA and the FIA like paper planes.

On Tuesday the FIA published a lengthy essay on what it feels the dispute is really about, accusing the teams of an attempt to take over the commercial rights to Formula One and the regulatory function away from the FIA.

This prompted a letter from FOTA to Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone which sought to ‘compromise and bring an urgent conclusion to the protracted debate’.

Mosley replied with a letter of his own in which he essentially dismissed all the FOTA proposals.  Instead, he suggested that the teams sign up unconditionally after which they could get together to discuss any regulation changes that could be made.

Interestingly, the FIA have also published a summary of cost cap discussions that took place between the teams and the FIA in January of 2008.  In a meeting on 11 January it seems that practically all the teams felt that a budget cap would be ‘the fairest and most effective way of minimising the impact of the recession’ and ‘only Jean Todt (Ferrari) disagreed, stating that a cost cap was not achievable for his team.’

This document also has links to the minutes of this meeting where several team principals speak favourably of cost-capping.  For example:

Ross Brawn felt that the FIA and the teams’ albeit worthy attempts in the past to drastically cut costs had failed due to the fact that although technical constraints had been introduced to reduce expenditure, the teams had continued to spend in other ways. He therefore felt that it might be preferable to consider budget caps in some if not all areas of car development along with technical constraints as he felt that this was the only way to really control actual spend.

These minutes do seem to cast FOTA’s rejection of a budget cap in a new light.  Ferrari have always been against a cap but the other teams seem to have been broadly in favour of it, at least in some form.  It really looks, as many have noted, that this is more about Max Mosley’s governance of the FIA than cost caps.

The teams have until Friday to sign up unconditionally to the 2010 Formula One Championship and I’m still optimistic some kind of agreement can be reached.  I get the impression most of the FOTA teams would be willing to compromise.  Ferrari, however, have publicly stated that they won’t compete in 2010 unless the regulations are changed so who knows what they will do?

At least we don’t have to wait long to find out.

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