British teams attack Mosley plan

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The Independent Online

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That was the message from leading British teams here yesterday in response to proposals by the governing body to make significant changes to Formula One.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That was the message from leading British teams here yesterday in response to proposals by the governing body to make significant changes to Formula One.

Among recent suggestions emanating from Max Mosley, the president of the FIA, are plans to force teams to use a single engine per car for an entire grand prix weekend (currently there is no limit and a team like Ferrari will take 12 units to every race, four for each race car and the spare), and the possibility of a change of engine formula to 2.5 litres. The latter would mean engine manufacturers designing completely new engines, possibly of different configuration, in place of the present three-litre V10s used by all 11 teams.

"Some companies have taken full advantage of the events of 11 September to disguise their own inadequacies. But the truth is that the world is calm but in a depressed economic state," said one leading contestant, who is concerned that the current situation might be perfect for those in authority with a mind to divide and rule.

All of the teams lined up to compete in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne's Albert Park agree that costs need controlling, but there is less unison regarding the proposed means of achieving that.

The world champion, Michael Schumacher, one of sport's highest-paid competitors, admitted that he was not "one hundred per cent in the picture," but said he was in favour of cutting costs. But Williams-BMW's technical director, Patrick Head, believes that such a course would actually increase costs.

"I think it's quite complicated. The predominant suppliers of engines are the manufacturers. Therefore it seems logical that they should be instrumental in making decisions amongst themselves if they want to reduce the number of engines. But there are some very complex matters involved in having one engine. At the moment BMW and all these other manufacturers have dynamometers on which you can do full, simulated grand prix distances. They will have to do a lot more of that and it is very expensive.

"Many, many other things that have been proposed as money savers over the years, but I suspect in the end this might well prove the opposite in terms of what it would do. The manufacturers understand this, but they haven't been asked at this stage.

"As we have seen in many cases before, a team will spend as much money as it is able to get in to spend, so if you limit expenditure in certain areas, more expenditure will go on testing or drivers' salaries or whatever. I haven't yet seen a real cost-saving venture in F1. The recent so-called testing ban, for example, certainly cost us much more money, the way we decided to do things."

McLaren's Ron Dennis agrees. "From 4 January until we sent the cars out to Australia last week we had 30 people working flat out in testing. Categorically, that was more expensive than if we had been able to test as usual in December."

Rule stability always closes up the field, whereas change historically opens gaps between the haves and the have-nots and undermines economy measures.

"If you want to cut costs," Dennis said emphatically, "you need calm, systematic thought-through strategy, not knee-jerk reaction. You need to decide how radical to make the changes, when you want them to take effect, and then work it back from there. If you ask people to do something tomorrow, they'll resist. Tell them what you want to do in a year or two, and you avoid resistance. It's not rocket science."

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