Bernie Ecclestone appears prepared to take a step towards reconciling the warring factions in Formula One by calling for the abandonment of the two levels of technical freedom proposed by the budget cap rules that the FIA want to see implemented for 2010.
suggesting that the ceiling on spending be removed completely, the sport's commercial guru has suggested that the differences in development it fostered should be eradicated, claiming that this would be the obvious olive branch to those teams threatening to leave F1.
Speaking after an emergency meetings between the teams and the sport's hierarchy at Heathrow over the weekend, Ecclestone branded the thought of a two-tier rules system as 'stupid' and claimed that it would be scrapped in an event to keep all ten current teams involved in F1 beyond the end of 2009.
"I think the most important thing that upset everybody, was this two-tier technical system, so I think it has been agreed that we should not have that," he told the BBC
, "The two-tier system is out of the window - I always thought that was a bit stupid [and] it was important to get rid of it. There has been an agreement in principle. Everyone will have the same regulations."
Ecclestone added that the teams were 'more or less' agreed on the idea of a budget cap, but had not yet settled on what level expenditure needed to be at. FIA president Max Mosley is adamant that £40m should be the ceiling, but there have been rumours that this could be increased, either permanently of as part of a more gradual descent to £40m in future.
"I think everybody is more or less happy with the budget cap, although just how much?" Ecclestone confirmed, "They will go with it higher, maybe it will be lower. It's just a case of sorting it out. I am confident all the teams will still be racing next year."
Mosley, meanwhile, remained more steadfast in his desire to implement a limit on the teams' outlay for next season. While allegedly agreeing that the two-tier rules - which would have given those teams siding with the £40m cap allowed more technical freedom than those wishing to flout it - could be scrapped, he gave the teams until Friday - this week's traditional 'rest day' during the Monaco Grand Prix - to come up with a viable alternative.
According to Britain's Guardian
newspaper, the teams will meet in Monaco to discuss alternatives to the proposed cap, with further reductions in the cost of engines, use of wind tunnels and other technologies that force up the cost of competing - particularly for the sport's smaller teams - on the agenda.
The revelation that Ferrari was planning legal action to prevent the FIA from implementing the budget cap has added a new dimension to the row and, if anything, made Mosley even more resolute in his determination to see his proposals become official. The president insists that new blood will be attracted into F1 under his rules and, should Ferrari found itself out in the cold with all entry slots filled, then so be it.