F1 limits team budgets to rev up competition on grid

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The Independent Online

Formula One's ruling body, the FIA, yesterday laid out its plan for a dramatic rebirth of the sport under budget cost-capping.

At an extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris, the FIA president, Max Mosley, pushed through an optional budget cap of £40m to attract three new teams to join the existing 10 from 2010.

"Funding a team is increasingly seen as a discretionary spend for the majority of team owners and sponsors," the FIA said. "To ensure a healthy grid all are agreed costs need to be cut. The FIA believe unfettered technical competition is part of Formula One's DNA, and would like to see this flourish, but in an environment of strong, responsible and innovative management, not a spending race."

David Richards, the head of Prodrive and chairman of Aston Martin Racing, welcomed the new initiative. "The initial signs are very attractive and represent the basis for a real revolution in the sport," he said. "They hold the promise to return Formula One to its fundamental ethos, where success comes to those with the most ingenious engineering and best organisation, not simply those with the biggest budget."

The £40m will cover all team expenditure except: marketing and hospitality; remuneration for test or race drivers, including any young driver programmes; fines or penalties imposed by the FIA; engine costs (for 2010 only); any expenditure which the team can demonstrate has no influence on its performance in the championship; dividends (including any tax thereon) paid from profits relating to participation in the championship. A new costs commission will monitor and enforce the cost-cap financial regulations.

Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management will offer a $10m (£6.8m) sweetener in the form of participation fees and expenses to new teams. To be eligible for this, new teams must qualify as constructors and demonstrate that they have the necessary facilities, financial resources and technical competence to compete.

As a further sweetener, cost-capped teams will be allowed greater technical freedom to run movable front and rear wings; an engine not subject to a rev limit; and to conduct unlimited out-of-season track testing with no restrictions on the scale and speed of wind tunnel testing.

At the same time, the WMSC confirmed that refuelling will be banned in 2010 to save the costs of transporting refuelling equipment and oblige engine manufacturers to improve fuel economy.