3 July 2012
Teams unable to agree on cost-cutting
F1's twelve teams have been unable to agree on various measures to cut the cost of competing, creating an uncertain future.
Hopes that an agreement could be reached on how F1 could further curb its spending in an age of austerity appeared to have foundered as the deadline for majority approval came and went over the weekend.
The twelve teams had until the last day of June to come to conclusions on the future direction of the sport, and pass them with a simply majority. With that proving impossible, the process has been made more complicated as F1 slips back into the old problem of need complete unanimity to pass any rule changes - something that it has struggled to achieve in the past as different factions hold out for what they feel will best suit their aims.
Despite some scepticism over the viability of the existing Resource Restriction Agreement - mistrust of which led to Ferrari and Red Bull initiating a breakaway from teams' group FOTA that eventually also included both Sauber and Toro Rosso - there is a desire to rework it so that the sport can protect those competing in it, particularly at a time when the global economy is struggling. However, while there has been progress in some areas, there are others that have provided sticking points that are proving difficult to overcome.
According to seasoned F1 scribe James Allen, agreement had been reached by a majority - RBR and Toro Rosso remain opposed - on aspects such as windtunnel operation, in-season testing and personnel levels, but the introduction of new engine regulations for 2014 continued to cause unrest, and the hike in prices expected to accompany their introduction a particular thorn in the side of negotiations. Indeed, this is thought to have caused the teams to abandon plans to vote prior to Saturday's deadline, leading to the headache that the need for unanimity will undoubtedly bring.
Although there are rumours of a new deadline for teams to agree on rule changes being set towards the end of July, it is thought that they are now looking to the sport's governing body, the FIA, to take charge of the matter of spending - something that president Jean Todt appears reluctant to do, just as he appeared unwilling to involve the FIA in decisions over the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Ironically, with no new Concorde Agreement being signed off by the teams, and the existing one expiring at the end of the season, the governing body would be in position to impose whatever rules it felt appropriate for 2013. While it is unlikely to completely tear up the existing regulations, it may be open to persuasion from the teams - or a majority of them at least - to impose, and even police, levels of spending, which would carry a bigger stick for transgressors than the current RRA, which is seen more as a handshake deal between the teams, and has led to accusations that some are breaking the agreement knowing that nothing can be proved.
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