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Engine makers still aim to avoid freeze

Formula One's engine manufacturers are going to make a last-ditch attempt to head off plans for a full engine freeze in the sport at a meeting of the Sporting Working Group this afternoon, has learned.

The SWG is convening in Montreal later today to further discuss rule proposals for 2008 and, although the subject of engines is not on the official agenda, it is understood that the matter will be pushed for discussion at the end of the meeting.

It is possible that those discussions could lead to a vote being taken on plans for homologation - just weeks after the SWG voted in favour of a complete rejection of engine freeze plans before that decision was declared void by the FIA.

The hopes among some carmakers is that the majority of teams will rally around and back plans for a compromise homologation deal, which has become known as the 'Monaco Agreement'. It lays out plans to homologate some parts of the engine each season.

A report in this week's Autosport suggested that five of F1's seven manufacturers had agreed on this deal, with only Ferrari and Renault so far not supporting it.

Ferrari are holding out for a lower rev limit than the other teams want 19,000rpm against 19,500rpm - while Renault are understood to favour a full three-year engine freeze.

The lack of support from the two teams will not matter in the SWG meeting, however, because its decisions are carried by a simple majority. Even if Renault, Ferrari and the two Red Bull teams voted against the compromise deal, the decision would still be supported by eight teams.

If the SWG does get behind plans for part-homologation, then that decision should automatically get carried through to the next Formula One Commission meeting next month.

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen said he hoped that a compromise deal would be rubber-stamped this afternoon.

"The basic discussion is whether we will have a complete design freeze or something like the Monaco Agreement, which is some sort of engine homologation," he said.

"Everybody - every manufacturer, every team - agrees that we support homologation. I think compromise should be found between a complete design freeze and allowing for some development, such as catching up with deficiencies of engine and things like this."

Theissen admitted, however, that there were other complications tied up with the homologation issue. The biggest is the question mark about what happens in 2007 if an engine freeze is agreed for 2008.

Teams do not want to spend a lot of money developing engines next year, only to have to revert to an older spec engine for 2008.

"If there is a very restrictive regulation for 2008, it would enforce manufacturers to develop a 2007 engine which is beyond the drawing board anyway," he explained. "The money is spent, the engine will be there within a few weeks. You race that in 2007 only to step back to what we have today.

"My hope is we can come to a compromise in terms of homologation and the freezing date for us to allow us to use the 2007 engines, which everyone has, as the homologated engine and then in turn say we put the regulation forward and have it from 2007."

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