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Engine freeze shortened to five years

Formula One teams have agreed to shorten the freeze on engine development to five years and are actively considering further radical plans like budget capping, autosport.com has learned.

Moreover, the teams have accepted calls from the FIA to further cut costs in Formula One as soon as possible.

The FIA called a meeting with team principals in Paris on Friday to discuss a host of ideas, including a reduction in wind tunnel and computer use, after feeling that more needed to be done to bring down the budgets needed to compete in F1.

And although the more radical plans, like wind tunnel bans, were not accepted by the teams as being the best way forward, major progress was made in making them accept that something needed to be done.

One source told autosport.com: "It was a very positive and productive meeting."

The teams agreed to shorten the current 10-year freeze on engine development down to five years, with the FIA to start work on a new engine concept that will be ready for the start of 2013.

It is understood this new engine will aim to be more environmentally friendly and more cost-efficient than the current 2.4-litre V8 power unit, with provisional engine regulations due to be presented to the teams within the next two years.

As well as agreeing on that point, the teams agreed unanimously that cost reductions were needed as soon as possible, although there was no consensus on how this should be achieved.

A majority of teams felt that a renewed impetus for budget caps would be the best way forwards, but Ferrari felt that there were better solutions. One suggestion was for the cap, which would exclude engine development, to be set at around the 80 million mark.

The latest push for budget caps was first revealed by autosport.com at the end of last year, when Honda Racing's Ross Brawn and Nick Fry said they felt it was the best way forward.

"Ross and I both think that an overall budget cap is something that should be seriously investigated," Fry told autosport.com in December. "What we see at the moment, if you look at the accounts of any of the UK F1 teams, is that the costs keep going up.

"So far what we have been successfully doing is moving money from one area of the team to another. Money is certainly moved from engines to aerodynamics, because that is the next best area of performance advantage.

"We support a lot of the proposals on the aero restrictions, but the fear is that that money will merely be diverted elsewhere. It will go to driver salaries or engineer salaries, or some other part of the car, but will not necessarily reduce the total bill that a team has to pay.

"So rather than chasing our tails, we think we should be considering an overall budget cap. Although it will be difficult to monitor, we think it can be achieved."

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