Paul Stoddart has led an unprecedented effort by the F1 teams to introduce measures to cut costs next year, attracting the support of every team except Ferrari in a move to limit testing.

The teams have agreed with Bernie Ecclestone that a reduction in testing will help to make room for the French and British GPs to appear on next year's calendar, and the nine other teams have, in effect, ganged up on Ferrari in an attempt to force the Italian team to agree to the changes. In recent times, the world champions have blocked a series of proposals by preventing the required unanimous agreement from being achieved, but the general feeling among their rivals is that 'enough is enough'.

Stoddart and Eddie Jordan were, as usual, the driving forces in getting the teams to push for changes for 2005 and beyond, but even they were surprised at the level of support they were able to attract.

"Those two teams have been the catalyst to the larger teams sitting down and listening and trying to address those concerns," McLaren boss Ron Dennis, an antagonist of Stoddart in press conferences over the years, admitted, "We need to have a responsible position that is not only what is best for your company, but also for F1. I think this is an effort to bring together those people who are prepared to take a view which is we will adopt what is better for F1."

Dennis also conceded that the recent loss of Ford had been a major wake-up call for the other top teams.

After a meeting with Ecclestone in Brazil on Saturday morning, all team bosses bar Jean Todt signed a one-page document that covered two main areas, namely tyres and testing, which was then published under the title 'Teams present initiative for substantial and tangible cost savings in F1'.

The extraordinary document carries no actual legal weight, but is merely an outline of where the teams - bar Ferrari - currently stand. Stoddart spent much of the day chasing his fellow team bosses around the paddock and getting them to sign a definitive version. The last to agree was Peter Sauber, who usually sides with Ferrari on all such matters, but was persuaded to join the majority in this instance.

On the subject of tyres the document stated that "Mr Ecclestone agreed... to progress this matter further with the tyre manufacturers and, in particular, to seek their assistance to eliminate the majority, if not all, tyre testing".

Although not stated as such, it is hoped that eventually there can be a return to a single tyre supplier, a situation last seen in 1999, before Michelin joined Bridgestone. In the short term, it seems that the two tyre companies will have to produce raceable 'long-life' tyres in 2005, with far less track testing permitted than has been the case up to now.

The teams propose to cut testing to just ten calendar days in the course of the season, although the wording allows them to run as many cars at as many venues as they want on those days. That will be balanced out by having two two-hour sessions of free practice on the Friday of each grand prix weekend.

In the document, the teams stated that they "feel this is only the first move towards achieving the goal of reducing the necessity to spend enormous sums of money in order to be competitive in F1".

It concluded by asserting that it was hoped that unanimous agreement could be 'achieved over the coming weeks,' which means that Ferrari will have to change its mind.

The Scuderia is adamant that it will suffer more than most because of its regular use of two test tracks in Mugello and Fiorano. The team does not agree with the way its rivals went about introducing their ideas.

One grey area concerned whether the Friday testing would allow teams to by-pass the two races per engine rule, as Ferrari thought that the race engines would only go in on Saturday. This would benefit the teams that could not produce reliable engines. Peter Sauber, however, confirmed that he has signed up on the understanding that Friday was part of the race meeting and that engines would be used all weekend.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...