BMW, Honda Drop Opposition to Engine Changes

by Alan Baldwin

BMW, Honda Drop Opposition to Engine Changes

by Alan Baldwin

Carmakers BMW and Honda have dropped plans to challenge Formula One's governing body over engine rules for 2006 after deciding that legal action would be bad for motor racing.

"The BMW WilliamsF1 team has decided, in accord with BAR Honda, not to appeal against the engine regulations ... scheduled for 2006," BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen said on Thursday.

"A legal challenge to the content and form of the modified regulations would take up too much time - time in which all manufacturers would be forced to undertake costly parallel developments. That would not be in the interests of the sport, whose future we aim to strengthen. With this decision we want to contribute to a united position of the engine manufacturers in Formula One."

A spokesman for the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) confirmed they were aware of the decision. There was no immediate comment from Mercedes, partners to McLaren, although Formula One sources said they too had given up on arbitration. There was no separate confirmation from Honda.

Honda, BMW and Mercedes opposed the reduction of engine capacity from the current 3.0 litre V10s to 2.4 litre V8s in 2006 as part of a package of measures pushed through by the FIA. Theissen had warned last June that any introduction of a V8 engine "would be seen as a serious issue by the board (of BMW) and I cannot really say what the outcome would be."

All three carmakers had talked about the possibility of taking the FIA to arbitration over the issue, arguing that the governing body had gone beyond its remit. FIA president Max Mosley pushed the rule changes through on safety grounds, arguing that more engine power equals more speed and more speed means more danger for both drivers and spectators.

Under the sport's 'Concorde Agreement' any technical changes have to be agreed unanimously by the teams unless there are safety issues involved.

"All of us agree on engine life extension...but the main issue for us is the three litre V10," Theissen had said when the engine rules were confirmed in October.

Honda had been opposed particularly to restrictions imposed on the weight and centre of gravity of engines in the regulations.

"We want the engine formula to be open so that we can differentiate ourselves one from the other, which makes the sport interesting for us and is one of the reasons we are here," Honda's Ottmar Szafnauer said at the season-ending race in Brazil.

All three argued that, at a time when Formula One was trying to cut costs, it could be more expensive to switch from V10 units to V8. Formula One rules are also changing next year, with engines having to last for two race weekends rather than one.

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