LONDON: Formula One's governing body has urged teams to build on cost-cutting measures for this year by taking further steps for the future, including possible voluntary budget caps.
International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Max Mosley, in a letter to the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) ahead of a meeting on Thursday, said a package of measures agreed last month would help considerably but more could yet be done for 2009.
He added that "the really big changes", with much of the detail yet to be hammered out, must come in 2010 for the sport to be put on a sound footing in the face of the global financial crisis.
"We had a championship dependent on the willingness of the world's car industry to continue spending vast sums on Formula One racing and the few remaining independent teams (with one exception) entirely reliant on the generosity of their billionaire owners," said Mosley.
"In current circumstances, it would be crazy to assume this can continue," wrote the Briton.
"Costs must be reduced to a point where a well-run independent team can operate profitably with just the FOM (Formula One Management) money and very moderate sponsorship.
This is the only way to safeguard the championship and allow new teams to enter to fill the gaps as well as replace those leaving."
Formula One lost the struggling Honda-backed Super Aguri team during the course of last season and was then rocked last month when Honda announced they were also pulling out.
Honda have yet to find a buyer, leaving just nine teams and 18 cars on a starting grid with space for 12 teams and 24 cars.
With the world car industry in crisis, fears remain that another of the manufacturers that dominate Formula One could also decide to withdraw.
Mosley said budget capping, in a sport where teams can burn through more than $300 million a year, had its attractions.
"The idea that each team should have the same amount of money, so that success is simply a function of intellectual ability, has great appeal," he said.
"If properly enforced, it would be a very fair system.
Indeed, one view is that having much more money than a rival team is just as unfair as having a bigger engine. We should like to discuss this further with FOTA."
Mosley said a voluntary cap might work given that "no manufacturer whose board has signed off the agreed amount would be likely to allow secret additional expenditure, while independent teams would probably not have access to the necessary cash."
The FIA president asked FOTA to make proposals to reduce further the cost of race weekends and to draw up a list of standard chassis parts.
FOTA, led by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, want a greater share of the sport's revenues but Mosley made clear that the FIA would not be cowed by any breakaway threats.
"The FIA itself would not be financially disadvantaged by a collapse of Formula One but it would suffer in other ways," he said. "We believe we have a duty to do whatever is necessary to preserve the championship for the competitors, the commercial rights holder and motor sport generally.
"We are therefore prepared to act radically.
"We hope that, notwithstanding the changes which must now be made, all teams which are still in business in 2010 will enter. But...we will be ready to recognise an independent series should some teams prefer to go their own way."
7 months ago