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GP Week : Issue 32
> F1NEWS> Don’t Panic! FOTA Vice President John Howett has warned the Formula 1 community against a “knee jerk reaction” to the global economic crisis. With the world’s markets in freefall, the mood in the paddock at the Fuji Speedway was sombre as the sport faced up to the realities of the credit crunch. “I think we need to put things in context really,” he said. “The first is if you look at some of the figures released for the British [football] Premier League in terms of teams’ liquidity, the issues being faced by F1 teams are relatively minor. “I think that the danger is that a knee-jerk reaction could be catastrophic. In the end, if we have pressure, we will be told that’s the budget and we will survive. “Very simplistically, if we [Toyota] get told this is the budget for competing this year, next year we will compete and we will do the best available job that we can within that. Obviously the social issue is what will happen to the motor sport infrastructure and it goes beyond teams. “The UK, in particular, I think has a multi-million dollar motor sport industry which could be destroyed and that, I think, should be something that people do worry about and take into consideration. But in the end, simplistically, if Toyota tell us that’s the budget, we will operate at that budget and make the best professional decisions to handle that.” His views were echoed by fellow F1 Team Principals Nick Fry and Mario Theissen. “I think the first thing to say from our side and I think with all the other teams we do feel there is a need to reduce costs,” Fry admitted. “The important thing from our point of view is to reduce costs which frankly are wasted expenditure and I think there are several of those areas. Whether they are enough to meet the targets that we need is another matter.” “In my view the ongoing discussions under the umbrella of FOTA are very constructive, the most constructive I have seen in Formula One because it is clear to all of the teams that we have to do something, we have to achieve something and it only works if we come to a joint proposal,” said Theissen. “There are several technical working groups, one for the car and another one on the power train or the engine itself and the commercial and sporting working group, lots of good ideas. I am sure within a few weeks or months we will be able to come up with proposals which will really make a difference to what we see today in terms of costs, in terms of improving the spectacle and the commercial viability of Formula 1.” The need for renewed thought on the financial structure of Formula 1 comes after the FIA World Motor Sport Council met on October 7 in the run up to the Japanese Grand Prix. The Council decided to give FIA President Max Mosley the authority to negotiate with FOTA over the introduction of “radical measures to achieve a substantial reduction of costs in the championship from 2010.” In the immediate aftermath of this meeting, Mosley met with FOTA President Luca di Montezemolo, and the duo agreed to an FIA/ FOTA meeting immediately following the Grand Prix of China. The topics for discussion will be “very significant and urgent reductions in costs; future technical regulations for chassis and drive train and maintaining the competitive element.” With Formula 1 finally waking up to the very real need to cut costs amid a global economic crisis of vast proportions, the outcome of the meeting could have huge consequences for the future of the sport.