The men in charge of two of the smaller Formula One teams have not dismissed the suggestion that the sport head down the route of a spec engine - a response expected to be at odds with manufacturers involved.

The sport's governing body, the FIA, sprung the revelation that it would be touting for tenders from third party operations to provide a single-spec powerplant on the F1 paddock during the opening day of the Chinese Grand Prix.

"The FIA will today open the tender process for the appointment of a third party supplier of engines and transmission systems to be used by competitors in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship," an official statement read, paving the way for all teams to be provided with the same engines and powertrain systems - and effectively ridding the top flight of one of its determining factors as a manufacturer and innovation-led series.

For Force India owner Dr Vijay Mallya and Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger, however, the move is one to at least be investigated, given that they have no direct allegiance to any of the major manufacturers. Both are powered by Ferrari engines, but do not get the supply of V8s for free.

"The global economic environment is certainly a cause of major concern," billionaire businessman Mallya pointed out, "In my 25 years as chairman of the UB Group, I've never seen such a position, where there is lack of confidence, where economic growth is being questioned, where there is a liquidity crisis, share prices have fallen off the cliff and trading conditions are certainly very, very difficult.

"In this context, any initiative to reduce the costs of Formula One is most welcome. We have the FIA, the regulator, which writes the rules. We have the Formula One Teams' Association that has recently formed, which I believe is also appreciative of the need to immediately reduce costs, so I think the FOTA and the FIA can talk to find out a solution - but a solution is a must.

"I got to know about this prior to the start of this press conference [but], as I said before, I welcome any initiative to drastically reduce costs. I am aware that FOTA has a meeting next week and if, together with the FIA, a solution can be found to address the subject - and actually make sure it happens and doesn't remain one of those everlasting discussions - then it's good for all of us, good for the sport and certainly good for the independent teams."

Berger appeared fully in accord with his counterpart, especially as he is aware that, come 2010, he could find himself cut adrift from the Red Bull money train and needing to cut costs just to remain in F1.

"As an independent team, I am very happy to see things moving and that, slowly, everybody starts to realise that we are getting into a very, very difficult situation," the Austrian commented, "As we all know how much lead time decisions like this can have, it is very important to react quickly.

"As I understand, it is not yet fixed in which way costs are going to be reduced in drivetrains. Obviously, the FIA put some proposals onto the table in putting out the tender but, hopefully, also next week, at the FOTA meeting, FOTA can make some reasonable and good possibilities. I am sure, in the end, we are going to choose the best, cheapest and most reasonable conclusion to fulfil all the needs of the manufacturers' and to fulfil also the needs of the situation. But I am very happy that things are moving and it looks like they are moving quickly."

Should the manufacturers, as expected, oppose the thought of a spec engine, next week's FOTA meeting could prove a test of the recently-discovered unity among the teams. Berger, however, remains optimistic that any talks will be positive.

"As we put together FOTA, of course, everybody puts his ideas into it and then we are going to work out a proposal," he confirmed, "Yes, I have some ideas, but I think it is too early to discuss it here. I think I would like to see, first with FOTA next week, what are the different proposals, or what are the different needs of other teams because I think it is very important to find solutions that fulfil everybody's expectations, not just for one team.

"I am very happy that somebody has made the first step to push the matter. It doesn't say that the decision has been made, and I'm sure if FOTA is doing a good job next week, [and] maybe the right solution can be found with the FIA. If it's this one or another one, it doesn't matter. I think it's just important that something happens quickly."

Mallya, having revealed that his homeland has yet to fall quite so heavily, although it has edged, into the clutches of the global economic crisis, revealed that there have already been other plans tabled for discussion in the desire to cut costs further in F1.

"There are several areas where costs can be cut," he insisted, "There has been a proposal mooted by FOM suggesting that the Concorde Agreement be modified to allow those teams that have been in Formula One for more than ten years to exchange parts, or to also go down the 'customer car' route. The more you share, the less are the costs. There is no rocket science in that. It is logic.

"I think that is one of the things that we would certainly support, [as] commonality of equipment and parts is once again something that reduces costs. I would imagine that that is the logic behind the FIA's decision to call for a tender for supply of the drivetrain.

"Of course, I don't want to talk about the other costs associated with Formula One. However, I have to say that, in the current economic environment, there are many sponsors, there are many commercial organisations, who could regard Formula One as an unnecessary luxury. It is all very well for manufacturers to be in Formula One, and justify it as part of their research and development initiatives or as a marketing initiative, but, for independent teams like Gerhard's and mine, we have to justify every penny of expenditure and make sure that we are not merely competitive but that we are commercially viable."


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment