Flavio Briatore has again called for Formula One to look at itself and make changes he feels are vital to preserve not only the teams taking part, but also the very fabric of the sport.

The Italian has long been an advocate of cutting the cost of competing in the top flight and, with the current economic 'crisis' looking likely to have an impact on F1, suggested that the major players in the sport act with urgency.

"I looked at the steering wheels of the cars during the Brazilian Grand Prix," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport magazine, "and it looked as though we wanted our cars to fly to Mars. I asked myself why should we put so much energy and money there, when only the egos of the engineers are being satisfied.

"We have our fate in our own hands, and we must act quickly otherwise the manufacturers will leave and the private teams die out. We do not live in a gilded cage when around us everything burns. We need to find solutions for the period 2010-12, and I've said it before that we should sticks everyone who has a say on the future into a hotel room and give them a maximum of a week. Then we must see white smoke out of the chimney [to show they agree] - just like when they choose a new Pope!"

Despite murmurings of discontent about FIA president Max Mosley attempting to push through his own views and proposals regarding cost-cutting, Briatore would not exclude the governing body from any discussion on the sport's future.

"Not at all," he insists, "I'm only saying that the impetus must come from the teams. FOTA did not start a war with Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley - we want to collaborate with them and, if we get nothing decided [between the teams], then Mosley is right to put through his own ideas. He sat down and thought how to rescue Formula One - and he will do it."

Believing that F1 should be able to cut the cost of competing in half, Briatore is puzzled by the rush to introduce new technologies such as KERS, and wonders why such advances cannot be jointly developed to help save on R&D costs. Ironically, while calling for reins to be tightened in other areas, Mosley is insistent that KERS - a potentially environmentally-beneficial technology - be left free for development by the teams.

"It would have been better if we had shifted its introduction on a year," Briatore said of KERS, "No-one was not for that, only BMW, and I do not understand why. Now everyone is forced to invest a lot of money.

"If we introduce new technologies into Formula One, we should jointly develop them. That saves costs and fulfills the same purpose. If every team works for itself alone, more money is spent and, in the end, we are still the same. The quickshift gearboxes are the best example of that."

The FIA wants the teams to come up with an alternative to Mosley's plan for a spec engine - talk of which has gone quiet since the president issued a tender for supply on the eve of the Chinese GP. While the major manufacturers have warned that they would consider quitting F1 if the proposal was forced through, those teams currently facing a power deficit have edged in the other direction.

Perhaps uniquely, Briatore finds himself with a foot in both camps, but would not oppose the introduction of a spec engine, denying that F1 would become a higher-powered version of the successful GP2 Series which he masterminded with Bernie Ecclestone and others to replace F3000.

"If keeping engines on a level was the background to the development 'freeze', and if all engines are almost the same anyway, why not?" he questioned, "In my opinion, either we permit full freedom [on development of parts] or we all go with the same component.

"F1 doesn't have to be like GP2, but it absolute insanity to employ 1000 people and to spend $300m just to let two cars go round and round in circles. A GP2 car is seven seconds per lap slower [than F1], but the teams achieve that with $3m a year. F1 must fall somewhere in between."

Instead of technology making a difference between teams, Briatore is in favour of the culture and ability of teams themselves making the difference.

"Look at Red Bull and Toro Rosso," he pointed out, "The cars are the same other than their engines but, nevertheless, one is better than the other because it works better in the detail. Technology is good and beautiful, but there should be a market for that. We have many crazy things in the car, but no-one knows it."

Ironically, perhaps, Briatore confirmed that he was currently opposing a 15,000km limit on testing - but admitted that he would be prepared to relent if the performance of Renault's engines can be brought up, at least to the level of their rivals if not with complete freedom of development.

"If we are punished on the engine and then may not test, we'll be nowhere," he explained, "If we are allowed to improve the engine, then we can speak over testing restrictions."

The FIA's World Motor Sport Council is due to meet in ten days' time, with possible rule changes among the items on the agenda.


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