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GP Week : Issue 25
FOTA to fight for small teams THE newly formed Formula One Teams Association has set itself the target of achieving an economically sustainable future for the sport, in a bid to ensure that the future of the smaller independent teams is safeguarded. The Formula 1 team managers met with Bernie Ecclestone after the F1 supremo called a meeting at the Toyota motorhome on Friday in Valencia to discuss continuing Concorde Agreement negotiations and the future financial direction of the sport. “Part of the discussion was how to ensure we retain some of the smaller teams, but nobody at this stage really wanted to get involved in that discussion because I think FOTA now has a role in that type of activity,” Toyota’s John Howett told motorsport- total.com. “It [the meeting] was just really to say we’re finalising the Concorde Agreement so why don’t we make some amendments maybe for securing the future of all the teams and I think everybody just said ‘well, Bernie, for the moment let’s wait.’ The key point is that this was one of the issues discussed at the FOTA discussion: how do we achieve a good, sensible balance between survival and security of independent, small teams, and also satisfying the needs of the manufacturers and maintaining the DNA of Formula 1?” Honda Team Principal Ross Brawn, who will chair the FOTA Technical Regulations Working Group admitted that negotiations were still ongoing as to what constituted the definition of a “constructor”in Formula 1 as it is understood that the issue of customer cars is far from resolved. “I think the issue is the issue of a constructor and that’s what is difficult to reconcile between the teams. That’s probably one of the key issues for FOTA to address when it’s been created because there’s a natural conflict between teams such as Williams who are a traditional constructor and other teams who it would be to their advantage to be able to buy cars, such as Toro Rosso.” The Briton agreed with his Toyota counterpart that cost reduction remained the clearest objective for FOTA. “Fundamentally what is more important is to reduce the base cost of the car, so that even if you are a constructor, the cost of being a constructor becomes reasonable again because they’re very expensive at the moment and I think that’s the major problem. That’s why teams like Toro Rosso find that transition from, lets say customer teams, into being a constructor, and smaller teams like Williams have problems with maintaining themselves as a constructor, because of the economics of it.” The spiralling costs of Formula 1 and the issue of customer cars have come in for renewed criticism this season, with the liquidation of the Super Aguri F1 Team, and Prodrive’s failure to take its slot of the 2008 grid. Renault chief Flavio Briatore believes the sheer number of staff involved in the sport is too high, and has joined the calls for cost-saving. “Formula 1 is a race but it’s entertainment as well,”he told reporters in Valencia. “We need it to be more efficient. I believe it’s possible to do the same job with at least sixty percent less than what we spend now. “I think it’s very difficult to understand why we need a thousand people to run two cars. This is my philosophy, it’s too many.”