Berger urges cost cut agreement

Scuderia Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger has issued a rallying call to the FIA and his fellow team principals to make sure that they agree on immediate cost-cutting measures when they meet after the Chinese Grand Prix

Berger urges cost cut agreement

Berger believes Formula One has already passed the point when cost cutting measures should have been ratified - and thinks it 'completely wrong' that some rival bosses are reluctant to make the changes needed to keep all 10 teams alive.

"If you look at GP2, and don't get me wrong - I never want to compare GP2 to F1, and I never like F1 too close to any other series because it has to be different - but it cannot be that F1 costs one hundred times what GP2 costs," Berger told autosport.com at the Japanese Grand Prix. "And on Sunday, when you watch the races, you sometimes see a better show in GP2.

"I think it is already ten minutes after midnight for us to make big dramatic changes. We have to put a business model onto it where we make a fantastic show for the people and also survive and earn some money. In every other business you are able to earn some money."

Berger has said he is frustrated that there has been resistance from teams, especially Williams, to an increasing trend for customer car relationships to keep costs down - even though it now appears that the use of more standard parts in F1 may be accepted as a way to help the situation.

"I rate the people in Formula One as very switched on guys, but on the financial side I feel like everyone is powerless," said Berger.

"At any company, if you invest some money and have to change the direction because of some outside influence then it will hurt. But at any company - if the situation changes dramatically - then they have to change to survive. If not, you will get hurt in a big way.

"I still see Frank (Williams) talking sometimes about how the old concepts (all teams being constructors) should still be in place, and I think it is completely, completely wrong. I think our job is to make a fair sport with a great show, and it is completely rubbish to think that millions and millions of pounds being invested in technical development is what our sport is going to put forward.

"The general (worldwide financial) crisis now is going to force the last ones who have not understood to understand. It will make them also agree that things have to be changed in a big way."

Berger hopes that a tripartite agreement between the FIA, Bernie Ecclestone and the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) can be reached in the post-China meeting to help carve a successful future for the sport.

"It is completely crazy not to do it straight away," he said. "There are a couple of things you can do straight away. We take much too long. Any normal company that went around in circles for such a long time to try and find a way forward to help would be bankrupt."

Berger and Force India owner Vijay Mallya were two team bosses who wrote to Mosley in July this year putting forward their proposals to reduce costs.

As well as the possible benefits that could come from a redistribution of the way F1 prize money is paid, both Mallya and Berger agreed that the free supply of a drivetrain to independent teams was a must.

Berger wrote: "Perhaps it could be conceivable that the manufacturer teams agree to budget constraints permitting the respective manufacturers to supply both drive train (ie. Engine/gearbox) and KERS devices to at least one independent team free of charge without necessitating an increase in the manufacturers' budget. To accommodate this requirement, we would suggest a further prolongation of drivetrain (and KERS) minimum mileage."

According to one senior manufacturer source, such cooperation with an independent team could expand to also include rear suspension and even car and aero parts. It is understood such a plan may be close to what Force India are aiming to do with McLaren and Mercedes-Benz for 2009 - a deal that Berger believes has been all but agreed.

Berger thinks the sport can go quite far down the concept of using more standard parts and sharing components without detracting from its core attraction as a technological challenge for the car makers. Moves to a standard engine, however, will almost certainly be rejected by most of the manufacturers.

"I think you can go at it in a big way," he said. "It will feel strange in the beginning but at the end of the day, I am really sometimes surprised that people think there are fans in the grandstand who are interested in how the gearbox shifts. Or if it is aluminium or composite.

"Nobody gives a damn about it. Nobody! We have to bring a good show on Sunday afternoon, that is what we have to do."

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Q & A with Gerhard Berger

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