Cost-Cutting Proposal not Sensible, Says Todt

Ferrari team chief Jean Todt believes the agreement between the nine other teams on the grid to limit testing in a bid to save the British Grand Prix is not worth the paper it is written on.

Cost-Cutting Proposal not Sensible, Says Todt

Ferrari team chief Jean Todt believes the agreement between the nine other teams on the grid to limit testing in a bid to save the British Grand Prix is not worth the paper it is written on.

The proposal to limit non-Grand Prix weekend running to 10 days during the season came after an emergency meeting at the Brazilian Grand Prix to which Ferrari were not invited.

And Todt said: "We need to identify solutions where we can really reduce costs but I'm sorry to say that what was presented is not sensible. This paper, you can just throw it away.

"I don't think it's very professional. We are in favour of reducing costs, but when you are taking a situation, you must do it without reacting in an emotional way, but in a pragmatic and logical way.

"Last Friday there was a vote from the Formula One Commission determining what Formula One should be in 2005, but then some meetings were held - some ignoring the FIA - and Ferrari was not invited.

"If we don't want Formula One to die, we have to reduce costs but not only by identifying for the top teams some less costs on testing. We know very well (anyway) that nothing can be implemented without the FIA."

Teams have been calling for cost-cutting measures for some time and their demands came to a head when commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone threatened to scrap the British Grand Prix.

Ecclestone has introduced the Bahrain and Chinese Grands Prix to the calendar this year and with Turkey coming in next season the Silverstone race has been bumped down to the 19th slot on the calendar.

It is understood that the testing proposal was put forward, and signed by all nine teams including Ferrari's close allies Sauber, in a bid to reduce costs so that teams could cope with a lower extra payment for a 19th race.

But Todt said: "They were talking that they were prepared to do 19 Grands Prix. Ferrari is prepared to do 19 Grands Prix. We simply want to know what are the rules of the game.

"We have an agreement with the Concorde Agreement for 17 Grands Prix. Each Grand Prix over 17 needs unanimous agreement as was the case this year for the Canadian Grand Prix.

"It was a long discussion, which was the 18th Grand Prix - was it France? - and finally it was decided it was Canada. So each team got a percentage out of the money that was paid to the promoter of the FIA Championship.

"How would the money be distributed for those 18/19 Grands Prix? Who are number 18 and number 19? Nobody knows. The 18/19 in my opinion should be Turkey and China because they are the last two.

"That is a big difference because their financial commitment is completely different from France and UK. So how can I comment on something when nobody knows what they are talking about?"

Todt was also critical of the team chiefs who signed the document without knowing how next year's Grand Prix weekends will work after a sudden change to the format was agreed for 2005.

A new two-race engine format will be introduced and the Ferrari boss believes it is not clear whether teams will be allowed to use a different engine on Friday to the engine they qualify and race with on Saturday and Sunday.

"The people who signed are not able to say whether it's the same engine on Friday or you change the engine on Friday," said Todt. "If it's the same engine two whole Grand Prix weekends then by reducing testing you will reduce costs.

"But on Saturday morning, then, nobody will come out of the garage so you will have Saturday morning where everybody will be waiting because everybody will have worked on Friday.

"With the new rules you will only do the qualifying lap so you will have spectators coming on Saturday for one lap and on Sunday it will be one more lap and the race and people will complain there is not enough show in Formula One.

"If you decide that Friday is with different engines the strong teams will come with their test teams, cars, engines, a lot of expenses, then change the engine for Saturday and Sunday. There is a big difference."

Instead, Todt believes the biggest cost reductions are to be found by scrapping electronic driver aids such as traction control by introducing a standard electronic control unit (ECU).

That would prevent teams spending millions on developing smart electronics and would give the added bonus of making driver skill a greater factor in the results of races.

"In Formula One the drivers, who have the best skill ever, don't need to have such great assistance," said Todt. "We are in favour of talking about ECU, standard ECU, where it will really be a big drop [in costs].

"Do we need traction control? I'm not sure you need traction control to improve the show in Formula One. Do we need to have cars where you have to spend a huge amount of money to find ballast? Why do you have to find ballast?

"You make the lightest car possible ever, but then you put the car under the weight limit. I have been talking with [technical director] Ross Brawn and our top engineers because we need to make a sensible proposal."

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