Cost Cutting and No Prodrive for F1

Following a meeting of FOTA yesterday, it seems as though F1 is going to be seriously committed in trying to make the sport prosper for years to come through the use of cost cutting measures that will be used to “improve the spectacle of the sport.” Of course, I don’t know what could be more spectacular than having the championship for the last two years come down to the final race – with this years coming down to the final corner. The teams detailed and signed a restriction agreement on aerodynamic testing that will take effect this year as well as a development deal for new transmissions that will last six race periods and be frozen in spec from 2010 to 2012. They are also working to reduce the elimination of “expensive materials,” whatever that means, and reduce costs on systems that don’t have a huge impact on their individual performance.

            The “expensive materials” they talk about could be many things of course, but one thing that it should be is KERS. Not only is it a problem for many of the teams as far as testing goes, it is also a problem as far as money is concerned. Many of the teams, including Toyota, Renault, Ferrari, Toro Rosso and Red Bull, are having troubles implementing the system, and may run 2009 without having tried it out. Of course, the other reason for delaying it is that there is no in-season testing in F1 anymore, because of the costs associated with it. And in a recent letter to FOTA chairman Luca di Montezemolo, FIA President Max Mosley admitted that he is concerned about the battery based KERS systems because of the inherent risks associated with chemical storage and the strain F1 cars go through. Eliminating KERS would save teams’ time and money so that they could concentrate on other areas of the car. Plus, if these systems aren’t going to give teams much performance advantage, if any, then it should fall into that category of scrapping those items that do not do much for the teams. We will have to wait and see what BMW and McLaren do at the start of the season, as they are the only two teams that seem to be foraging ahead in their development of the systems.

            Honda is still also seeking bids for a buyer as Prodrive and David Richards are now completely out of the running. Richards cited the current environment in F1 as being too unsettled at the moment. He also said that while the teams are trying to reduce costs, the processes have not been put in place yet to see the full benefit. It won’t be until 2010 that the rules will be properly in place, Richards says. This is too bad, because as I have said, this would have been a perfect way for Prodrive to get into F1. With their Subaru WRC team pulled out of the championship all Prodrive have now is consumer cars (and other non car related things) to work on. Luckily, they are pretty good at that.

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