Driver Salary Cap on Cost-Cutting Agenda

Formula One teams have been asked to consider capping drivers' salaries and imposing age limits in a raft of cost-cutting measures up for discussion.

Driver Salary Cap on Cost-Cutting Agenda

Formula One teams have been asked to consider capping drivers' salaries and imposing age limits in a raft of cost-cutting measures up for discussion.

Max Mosley, president of the International Automobile Federation (FIA), last week sent all 10 team bosses a detailed agenda for scheduled talks on Friday to look at possible changes from 2008.

The FIA said on Wednesday the meeting would go ahead, possibly with just champions Ferrari after the other nine teams sought a postponement until later in the season.

Ferrari are the only team committed so far to remaining in the FIA's Formula One Championship after 2007, when an existing commercial agreement expires, with leading car manufacturers still planning a possible rival series.

The agenda, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, brings together ideas from the FIA and four teams - BAR, Ferrari, Renault and Williams - who responded to a request for suggestions.

The list included a salary cap for drivers, in line with some other sports such as the National Basketball Association (NBA), as well as a maximum age for second drivers. An FIA spokesman said the ideas came from the teams themselves.

Ferrari's seven-times World Champion Michael Schumacher, now 36 and the oldest driver on the starting grid, is estimated to earn around $50 million a year. Mosley wrote in a covering letter that "at this stage each of these measures is an item for discussion rather than a proposal".

Urgent Thought

The FIA's meeting was intended originally to look at cost-cutting measures from next year but Mosley said the best approach was to start with 2008, the earliest year for which the FIA is free to implement change. He hoped plans for 2008 could be finalised in a matter of weeks with teams then giving 'urgent thought' to 2006 and 2007.

"Early implementation of cost-saving measures is highly desirable in order to achieve financial stability in the interests of all competitors, but particularly the independent teams," wrote Mosley.

His agenda declared current levels of expenditure in Formula One to be unsustainable, with some manufacturers spending $250 million a season on engines for a single team while others employ up to 1,000 people.

"It is certainly possible to reduce costs drastically without altering the look, sound or (public) technical appeal of Formula One," it said.

"Increased income combined with very significant cost reductions will make all properly-managed Formula One teams profitable. This will preserve what we have and enable new teams to enter and compete with the best."

The list of possible technical, sporting and regulatory measures included ending the so-called 'tyre wars' by turning to a single tyre supplier.

That would likely involve a significant amount of discussion with existing suppliers as well as legal debate about EU competition law. There could be slick tyres, a ban on tyre warming devices and increasing use of standard parts and long-life components.

Bodywork regulations would reduce the potential for aerodynamic development, with downforce cut to 10 percent of current levels. Spare cars could be banned along with a third car for Friday practice, and race weekends would be trimmed to two days.

Technical and sporting regulations would be frozen for a long period, perhaps three years, with changes announced well in advance. Testing would be significantly restricted.

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