F1 Cost Reduction Agreement delayed, teams in limbo

UPDATE Despite much talk and a lot of effort behind the scenes, the deadline for agreeing a new package of cost control rules for next season came and went on June 30. This date was important because it was the date by which things could be passed by a majority. After that unanimity would be needed.

There is talk of extending the deadline to a new one of July 24th. But if the original deadline has passed, many are asking what force a new deadline will have. And now the teams and the FIA are in something of a limbo. Most of the teams turned to the FIA to regulate the Resource Restriction Agreement from next year onwards because, as the F1 Teams Association, they had failed to do so itself.

The problem is now a legal one. The teams are looking to FIA president Jean Todt for leadership, while he is trying to avoid getting into a legal battle or putting the FIA in a position where it could be undermined. Red Bull are the ones sitting outside of this process. Todt is trying to draw Red Bull into the process, but other team sources say that Red Bull has taken to sending a lawyer, rather than a senior engineer, to meetings.

A lot of work has been done behind the scenes by people at all levels to try to move the agreement on costs forward. For some teams this matter is really urgent as they are close to the edge financially.

But despite the imperative, it’s stalled. It’s leading to a lot of frustration, while on Red Bull’s side it’s leading them to feel isolated, as shown by recent comments from Helmut Marko about the team being singled out for a rough time, with the safety car in Valencia and such like matters.

There are two sides to the RRA process: the chassis side and the engine side.

On the chassis side there is quite some progress: some things have been agreed by most of the teams (with the exception of the two Red Bull owned outfits); measures on in season testing, reducing the number of days of wind tunnel and CFD as well as further cutting the number of team personnel at races. These were agreed by the seven FOTA teams plus Ferrari, Sauber and HRT. In fact they are mostly there on chassis and appeared to have the majority they needed to get it through, but no fax vote took place.

On the engine side things are more difficult, with manufacturers flat out developing the 2014 small capacity hybrid engines at great expense, but teams bridling at the costs they are likely to face for a supply of these engines. Teams currently pay around €5 million per season for 8 engines per driver plus some pre-season test units. The 2014 engines will be significantly more expensive at the outset.

As the governing body of the sport the FIA could be considered to be in a position, with no Concorde Agreement in place from December 31 onwards, to impose whatever rules it thinks are appropriate for next season. But it’s concerned about legal threats. More at James Allen on F1

07/01/12 Governing body FIA and F1 teams were unable to reach an agreement on how to reduce costs for the '13 season, according to Mario Fritzsche of Motorsport-Total.com. The deadline for proposals in this issue, which was set for Saturday, was extended for "an additional three weeks to July 24." The two teams that still disagree with the suggestions of the rest of the field are the two Red Bull-owned teams, Scuderia Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing. Even a "further extension of the deadline" through Sept. 30 seems to be possible. Lotus team principal Eric Boullier said in an interview with Autosport, "The most important thing is that we make the right decision" MOTORSPORT-TOTAL.com

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