Engine makers pessimistic on agreement
|By Jonathan Noble||Thursday, July 13th 2006, 17:14 GMT|
Formula One's car manufacturers are increasingly unsure that they are going to get the unanimous support they need this weekend to head off the threat of a full engine freeze in the sport from 2008, autosport.com has learned, with the independent teams holding out on a deal.
Although discussions between teams at the United States Grand Prix on future technical rules ended in the 'Indianapolis Agreement' being verbally approved on Sunday morning, the sport's independent teams have subsequently been reluctant to give their final sign-off for the plans.
The Indianapolis Agreement proposes a part-homologation formula from the start of 2007 until the end of 2010, which would prevent expensive engine development taking place next year and allow some room for teams to continue pushing their technology during the period.
The independent teams want to have guarantees that they will get cheap customer engines from the manufacturers if they commit to the 'Indianapolis Agreement.' They would be better off in commercial terms with the full engine freeze planned by the FIA because they would not have to factor any development costs in their customer engine deals.
The fact that the independent teams' support is needed for the deal to go ahead has put them in a position of power in making demands - and there is believed to be a difference of several million pounds between what the manufacturers are offering for customer deals and what the independents want.
It is that continued difference in opinion over the costs, and the fact that every team needs to sign up for the Indianapolis Agreement to go ahead, that is making it increasingly unlikely that a deal will be reached by the deadline set by the FIA of this weekend.
Sources close to the talks have confirmed that the manufacturers are increasingly pessimistic about an agreement being reached with the independent teams over talks scheduled for France this weekend.
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen confirmed to autosport.com that the engine rules affair now hung on the commercial situation between the manufacturers and the independent teams.
"Apparently on the technical side all the engine manufacturers can agree to this proposal, but what we have to sort out now is basically a commercial issue – how to deal with the independent teams," he said.
When asked whether he believed agreement could be reached this weekend, he said: "It certainly can happen but I am not sure if it will happen. It is not in my hands."
Should the discussions fail then it would leave the manufacturers with the scenario of facing a full engine freeze from 2008, and having to spend a great deal of money next year developing engines only to step back to their current power-units at the end of the year.
"It would put us back to square one, to the FIA regulations for 2008," added Theissen. "I certainly hope that we can come to an agreement which puts us in a position to have a homologated engine according to this proposal for next year already."