Exclusive: teams ask FIA to exclude STR
|By Jonathan Noble||Monday, April 3rd 2006, 04:35 GMT|
Super Aguri and Midland F1 have written to the FIA asking that Scuderia Toro Rosso be excluded from scoring points in this year's constructors' championship, as other teams look set to join a campaign to get the performance of V10 engines pegged back, autosport.com can reveal.
Although it appeared that the row over Toro Rosso's V10 engines had died down following their fairly low-key performances in the Bahrain and Malaysian Grands Prix, high-level sources have revealed that behind-the-scene moves are currently taking place to lobby the FIA to change the regulations.
This all came before Vitantonio Liuzzi showed the capabilities of the V10 engine when he overtook Michael Schumacher in the Australian Grand Prix, and Scott Speed crossed the finish line in eighth place before losing that position because of a yellow flag infringement.
Autosport.com understands that at a meeting of the manufacturers' engine representative at Sepang two weeks ago, the equivalency formula between V10 and V8 engines was discussed at length and a proposal was put forward to register the level of unhappiness at the situation with the FIA.
While Toro Rosso had not scored points in the first two races of the season, the engine makers feared that the torque-advantage that is held by the V10 engines would allow the team to mix it near the front of the field at tracks like Monaco and Hungary.
Following the Malaysian Grand Prix, Super Aguri and Midland put together a joint letter, which was handed to the FIA at last weekend's Australian Grand Prix.
The letter expresses the two teams' concerns about the performance of Toro Rosso's V10 engines and, amid fears that the points-scoring potential could have a major impact on their own constructors' championship hopes, the teams ask that the FIA change the regulations so that the Red Bull-owned team do not score constructors' championship points.
Super Aguri managing director Daniel Audetto confirmed the existence of the letter and explained that there was a great deal of frustration at Toro Rosso's use of V10s.
"We are trying to protect our investment," he told autosport.com. "We think that it was an unfair situation when Red Bull bought Minardi, because I understand they gave this authorisation to use the V10 because otherwise Paul Stoddart was out of business. The teams said, 'okay we need 10 teams so you have this special dispensation.'
"That was the reason and the fact that Red Bull is now owning Toro Rosso, they have not only the money to buy a V8 but they could buy Cosworth if they want.
"It gives them an unfair advantage against the small teams, but at circuits like Monaco, Hungary, Montreal or if it is wet then they could mix it up with the big boys and take away points from the others.
"We think the best thing is for the FIA to let them race but without scoring points for the constructors' championship. They should still get points in the drivers' championship."
Audetto admitted, however, that the chances of the FIA acting on their request were slim, especially because any change to the Formula One Sporting Regulations would need unanimous approval. Toro Rosso and sister team Red Bull Racing would certainly not vote in favour of the move.
"I think it is unlikely that the FIA will accept our request because it is very difficult to change during the year the regulations, but at least we made a point," added Audetto.
The letter from Super Aguri and Midland is expected to be followed in the next fortnight by a joint letter from a number of teams and manufacturers urging the FIA to take action about the V10 engine situation.
Sources suggest that the letter, which is being drafted at the moment, will indicate support for the Super Aguri and Midland request, but adopt a slightly softer stance in requesting the FIA to 'encourage' Toro Rosso to move away from a V10 engine.
"The best way to encourage them is simply to turn their power down," said one source who was supporting the campaign. "If you make a V10 a lot slower, then Toro Rosso will want to switch to a V8."
Audetto said he welcomed the future support from rival teams and said even if the request falls on deaf ears, at least the FIA will have been made aware of the discontent among teams.
"I think it is important that [FIA president] Max [Mosley] knows our feeling - that we made a point," he added.
"Even if he cannot change the rules. And I think also for [Red Bull owner] Mr. [Dietrich] Mateschitz, to be aware of an unfair situation. I think he is a very honourable man and will make his own decision."
Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost was unmoved by the complaints from rival teams, however, and insisted that his outfit were doing nothing wrong in trying to make the most our of their situation.
He told autosport.com: "The FIA last year created a regulation that allows the private teams to use a V10 engine. If these teams complain now that we have an advantage, then I am sorry because I cannot understand it.
"We can sell them an engine if they want, they can buy an engine from us. If they think that the increase in performance from Toro Rosso is only because of the engine then they are a little bit wrong, I would say.
"The FIA made this regulation, all the other teams signed and they agreed to this. And I don't think that the FIA will change anything because we are not so far in front."
Tost indicated that his team were fully focused on getting even quicker this season - and warned his rival teams that they had better get used to seeing Toro Rosso challenging them.
"The people have to get used to, in their minds, the fact that Toro Rosso will not stay on the last row of the grid," he said. "We will fight and we will come forward.
"There is no point in the regulations that says Toro Rosso with the V10 engine is not allowed to be within the first ten. For me it is a question of expectations. Where do our opponents expect us to be?
"If they expect us to be in the last two positions, then their expectations are wrong because we will not be in the last two positions, even with another engine.
"And the other teams should be happy we do not have a V8 because otherwise we would be in the top 10 for sure."