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Formula 1 popularity on agenda at key London meeting

Bernie Ecclestone, Jean Todt

Formula 1 chiefs are to discuss ways to make the sport more popular with fans during a crunch meeting that takes place at Biggin Hill near London on Wednesday.

A meeting of the F1 Commission, made up of teams, promoters, sponsors and key representatives from the FIA and FOM including Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt, has been called to try to agree on much-needed cost cuts.

Why F1's cost-cutting proposals fall short

But AUTOSPORT has learned that as well as the cost issues that will be presented for approval, concerns about the decline in interest in the sport have prompted the tabling of talks about improving the spectacle.

On the agenda for the meeting are two interesting discussion points.

The first is titled: "Improving the show: how can we make Formula 1 more attractive to our fans?"

And the second is: "The rule changes: who is going to take responsibility for educating the public in order to reinforce their information?"

The inclusion of these items shows that F1's chiefs are taking seriously the fact that television audiences are suffering a worldwide decline.

Furthermore, there are growing suggestions that grand prix racing has neglected the strides that other sports have made in embracing new media.

Only last week, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo urged Ecclestone to hold a meeting with key players, including social media giants, later this year to try to find solutions, amid concerns that the sport had taken a wrong turn.

NOISE ALSO ON AGENDA

One of the big talking points this year was the noise issue, with a number of fans unhappy about the fact the new turbo engines were quieter than the old V8 power units.

Discussions about the noise issue, in the wake of the failed 'megaphone' test at Barcelona, will also take place on Wednesday.

There will also be talks about the establishment of a Formula 1 Hall of Fame by the FIA and other contributors.

LAST CHANCE ON COSTS

The main aim of the meeting is to rubber-stamp a host of cost-cutting measures that have been proposed by F1's Strategy Group.

The FIA wants to see big reductions in budgets for next year, after deciding that it could no longer push on with plans for a cost cap.

A number of items have been put forward for approval, including more standard parts, a potential reduction in the number of power units, a cut back in windtunnel and CFD use, changes to the weekend timetable, plus tweaks in testing which will include no running outside Europe and a slimming down of in-season running.

The F1 Commission can only approve or reject items though - it cannot make amendments to what has been proposed.

With the window for making changes to 2015 rules without unanimous support closing at the end of this month, pushing through cost-cut changes on Wednesday is essential if there is going to be a proper fall in expenditure for next year.

A meeting of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council will convene in Munich on June 26 to ratify any items that have been agreed by majority support from the F1 Commission.

After the end of June, 2015's rules can only be changed with unanimous support from all the teams, something that is unlikely to happen judging by the gulf in opinion that has opened up between the bigger and smaller outfits about cost control.

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