Onus put on Ferrari to save British Grand Prix

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The Independent Online

Peace in our time may be a while away in Formula 1. As Ferrari reflected yesterday on a richly satisfying 2004, Max Mosley, the president of the FIA, motor sport's governing body, gave a mixed reception to a proposal from the other nine teams to cut costs by limiting testing.

Ferrari's technical director, Ross Brawn, yesterday said he found it hard to conceive of a better year. Had Rubens Barrichello managed to win from pole position at Interlagos, Ferrari would have become the first team to win 16 races in a season. In the end they matched McLaren's 15 out of 16 in 1988 and their own 15 from 17 in 2002 to take their sixth successive constructors' title.

"I must say, 2002 was a dream season and I didn't imagine we could repeat that, but this year has been just as good," Brawn said. "It's hard to imagine any season to be better than the one we have had."

Brawn's team, traditionally hostile to cuts in testing, have not yet agreed to the cost-cutting scheme and Mosley said: "It is a completely rational plan, but the truth of it is that the teams' proposal is a minor matter and an irrelevance.

"What would be interesting was if we had a package for 2005 that got us our 20 cars. And we haven't got that. The three teams we are going to lose won't save money, because they don't test. It's a piddling package compared to the problem of keeping those three teams in business."

The troubled French and British grands prix are officially the 18th and 19th races respectively on a 17-race calendar, but by making them part of their package and saying they would agree to attend both if the proposal was ratified, Williams, McLaren, BAR, Renault, Sauber, Jaguar, Toyota, Jordan and Minardi have put the onus of saving the races on Jean Todt. Ferrari's sporting director, who was absent from the final meeting, allegedly reacted by screaming at the proposers, Bernie Ecclestone and the owner of Minardi, Paul Stoddart.

Todt said: "As usual, Ferrari is keen to work on improving safety and reducing costs on a basis of a carefully researched programme. This will be the aim over the next few weeks with the view to continuing with the work initiated by the FIA back at the meeting last May.

"As for the calendar, Ferrari would never get in the way of staging historic races such as the British and French grands prix, if all the teams want more than 17 races in a season."

The ball is now in Ferrari's court, while yesterday Mexican officials said they have reached agreement to host a F1 race in the Caribbean resort of Cancun starting in 2006. F1 organisers declined to comment.

Jaguar, meanwhile, waved goodbye to F1 with a whimper. The team was put up for sale last month by their parent company, Ford, ensuring that Sunday's race was the last after five seasons. But the hoped-for positive finish never materialised, Christian Klien shunting team-mate Mark Webber out of the race.

¿ After Sunday's race, McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen and Jordan's Nick Heidfeld were each fined $10,000 [£5,500] for dangerous driving in the pit lane. Raikkonen, who finished second, and the eventual winner, Juan Pablo Montoya, exited the pits almost side-by-side on lap five as they jostled for position.