FIA president Max Mosley has called on the Formula One teams to submit proposals to cut costs within the next three months after warning that the sport has become unsustainable.
Mosley sent a letter to each of the team principals today saying that it was unacceptable that the manufacturers require up to a thousand employees to put two cars on the grid given current uncertainties of the global market.
The Englishman warned that had it not been for the KERS initiative, a regenerative braking system due to implemented in 2009, major stakeholders and sponsors would have already left the sport.
“Formula One is becoming unsustainable,” he said. “The major manufacturers are currently employing up to 1000 people to put two cars on the grid. This is clearly unacceptable at a time when all these companies are facing difficult market conditions.
Mosley has asked the teams to submit proposals to meet three key targets: to reduce current manufacture expenditure by 50%; to reduce fuel consumption by 50% by 2015, while maintaining performance; and to promote closer racing by reducing the aerodynamic disadvantage caused by following cars in close proximity.
While Mosley has made it clear that the teams can develop the proposals themselves, in the absence of unanimity within a deadline of three months, the FIA will prepare the new regulations for 2011 itself.
UK national newspapers have reported a strained relationship between the FIA and the Formula One teams in recent months, many of the manufacturers having condemned Mosley’s decision not to resign in the wake of his sex scandal. Agreement over the regulations in this context could prove harder to achieve.
The Formula One teams, alongside commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone, are also waiting for Mosley to sign up to a new Concorde Agreement, the contract that sets out the terms of competition and revenue-sharing in Formula One.
However, Mosley has yet to support the agreement after he accused the commercial rights holders of trying to seize control of Formula One and rob the FIA of its core regulatory functions.
Max Mosley Letter in full:
Formula One is becoming unsustainable. The major manufacturers are currently employing up to 1000 people to put two cars on the grid. This is clearly unacceptable at a time when all these companies are facing difficult market conditions.
Also, with attention on energy problems world-wide, Formula One cannot afford to be profligate in its use of fuel. Indeed, without the KERS initiative, some major sponsors might already have left.
The FIA is therefore inviting the teams to make proposals to reduce current levels of expenditure. New rules must ensure that the costs of the manufacturer teams come down by at least 50% and that the independent teams become financially viable. Both must be done without affecting the spectacle in any way;
to extract more useful energy from less fuel. The target should be a (very challenging) 50% reduction from today’s levels of fuel consumption by 2015, while maintaining current speeds. The rules should encourage manufacturer teams to research technologies which are road-relevant rather than Formula One-specific; to improve the racing, including rules to ensure that cars remain aerodynamically efficient when in close proximity to one another.
The matter is now urgent. We need proposals which we can turn into detailed rules. These must be ready within three months and have the support of at least a majority of the teams, failing which the FIA will itself prepare new rules for 2011. Please also see the attached note.
Professor Goeschel has kindly agreed to hold meetings of FOMAC to discuss these issues directly with the manufacturers.
NEW RULES FOR 2011
We need proposals for regulations to come into force no later than 2011. These should be delivered to the FIA by 3 October 2008 and be sufficiently detailed to allow precise rules to be drafted.
It is for the teams to decide how to reduce costs and also to decide if there should be restrictions on the development budgets of the manufacturer teams and, if so, what these should be and how they would be enforced.
The rules must also allow a back-of-the-grid independent team to operate profitably.
Teams which design and develop their own drive train (usually manufacturer teams) must be prepared to supply a complete and fully competitive drive train to an independent team at very low cost. We would suggest about 2 million Euro per season per team. The complete drive train would include all the new energy-saving technologies (eg KERS) and cost would be a design constraint as it is in the car industry.
Among possible cost savings which the teams may wish to consider are: restrictions on simulators, wind tunnel use, CFD and other home-base facilities, together with long-life chassis components, up to ten-race drive trains, no gear ratio changes during life of drive train, current parc fermÃ© rules extended for entire race weekend and other proposals to reduce the cost per kilometre of operating a Formula One car and the costs of going racing. We would not object to shared technology, eg of core engine. Measures to reduce costs must not affect the spectacle in any way.
Improved fuel efficiency
The objective is a 20% reduction in fuel consumption for 2011 progressing to 50% in 2015, while keeping lap times and top speeds at current levels.
We believe this can best be regulated by placing a limit on both fuel flow and the total quantity of fuel used in the race (thus limiting both maximum and average power). The road-relevant research objective would then be more power from less fuel.
We hope to see many new energy-efficient technologies deployed. We would like rules to maximise the incentive to develop road-relevant devices for improved fuel efficiency. Teams will need these in order to obtain maximum power from a limited amount of fuel.
We would suggest limiting KERS to 200kw out and 300kw in, with maximum of 1.6 MJ stored energy. We would not exclude taking energy from the front wheels during braking.
We would not exclude the possibility of variable aerodynamics.
Again, it is for the teams to decide how these objectives can best be achieved and whether any, and if so which, restrictions should be placed on the drive train technology needed to produce the necessary improvements in efficiency.
The 2009 Technical Regulations are intended to improve the racing. We would like to go further, with developments to allow the cars to run in close proximity to one another without losing performance. One possibility is that the car behind should be faster by virtue of being behind not, as at present, slower.
Again, it is for the teams to decide how to achieve these objectives.