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FIA rejects move against engine freeze

Motor racing's governing body has rejected a move by teams to try and scrap an engine freeze in Formula One from 2008, as predicted by autosport.com earlier today.

The move looks set to increase tensions between the manufacturers and the sport's governing body with less than six weeks to go before regulations effectively need to be finalised.

At a Sporting Working Group meeting last week, eight out of the 12 teams planning to enter F1 in 2008 voted in favour of a move to reject plans for engine homologation in the sport. They subsequently claimed that the engine freeze concept had been killed off.

But in a fax sent to the teams by FIA president Max Mosley on Monday, a copy of which has been obtained by autosport.com, the governing body has made it clear that it will not accept the wishes of the teams on the matter.

Mosley insists that the engine freeze concept, which was originally suggested by Renault in early 2005, forms an integral part of his plans to dramatically reduce costs in F1.

He makes it clear that the teams that lodged their entries for 2008 effectively accepted the proposal when they submitted their application to remain in the sport.

"The 2008 Formula One World Championship is a competition for cars with homologated engines," said Mosley in the fax.  "The purpose of homologation is to reduce drastically the cost of engine development and prevent an unacceptable escalation of performance.

"By entering the Championship, a team accepts the regulations as published and, equally importantly, is entitled to rely on them when deciding whether or not to enter.  A major factor in deciding whether or not to enter is the cost of competing.  No responsible governing body could agree to rule changes which increase the cost of competing once entries have been accepted.

"There can therefore be no question of abandoning engine homologation or making any other change to the 2008 regulations which would significantly increase the budgets of the teams which have agreed to compete."

Mosley makes it clear that the FIA will only approve tweaking of the 2008 Sporting Regulations by the teams - and does not accept that the last-minute vote taken at the SWG meeting has any grounds to be carried.

Teams can change the proposed Sporting Regulations through a simply majority up until June 30, although the modifications then need to be approved by the F1 Commission and the FIA's World Motorsport Council.

"Fine tuning of the Sporting Regulations is possible on proposal of a simple majority of competing teams, provided the process is complete before 30 June 2006 in accordance with the published rules.  Thereafter, any change which could affect the design of the cars will require the same unanimous agreement as a change to the 2008 Technical Regulations.

"In the absence of acceptable proposals for improvement to the homologation regulations, the existing rule of total homologation for three years will stand.  If the hoped-for reduction in costs does indeed occur, it is self-evident that homologation will continue in 2011 and beyond, subject to any minor modifications which may appear necessary in the light of experience."

The FIA's stance against the SWG's wholesale rejection of engine freezing is in contrast to its acceptance of tweaks to the engine homologation rules that were agreed by Cosworth, Ferrari and Renault at a meeting at Maranello earlier this year.

"The FIA is always willing to listen to and implement constructive proposals for improvement to the engine homologation or any other rules, particularly any which promote useful research (for example the so-called Maranello proposals)," added Mosley in the fax.

"But only if budgets are not increased, safety is not compromised and the agreed periods of notice are observed."

The teams who are against the engine freeze concept are pushing for a different set of engine rules, which include a limit on the number of power-units a team can use during the season and homologation of certain parts.

They are hoping that specific rules can be framed from these proposals prior to the Monaco Grand Prix, but it remains to be seen whether the FIA will accept this move because it is so intent on sticking with its engine freeze concept.

The FIA's move to reject plans to scrap the engine freeze will likely come as a disappointment to several team bosses, who had made calls at the weekend for the decisions made by the SWG to be supported by the governing body and the F1 Commission.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis said: "When you look at the process that unfolded last Wednesday, I was encouraged by the fact that it was a democratic process and all the people who went there worked hard.

"If that is the way we build the future, by a democratic process of evaluating all the options that unfold, then we will have a very good F1. But it has to be democratic through the whole process and that is what I hope will happen."

He added:  "I share the view that there seems to be some uncertainty about how it will unfurl. Hopefully if it is a recommendation of the experts then it should be seen as that and expert opinion should be followed."

Ferrari sporting director Jean Todt made it clear in Spain, however, that he was under the impression the SWG vote would count for nothing with regards to the engine freeze. His team was one of four that voted against the proposal at the meeting.

"If you read the rules of 2008, the engine rules are already written and it's a freezing of the engine for 2008, 2009 and 2010," said Todt. "If you compete in the championship you have to accept the rules in which you are competing. It's written down."

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