F1 ready to survive financial storm

Formula One has made a big step towards minimising the dangers it faces from the worldwide financial crisis simply by the FIA and teams agreeing that action has to be taken immediately, claims Williams CEO Adam Parr

Although there is no firm blueprint for rule changes to help reduce costs yet, with meetings between teams and FOTA due to continue over the next few weeks, Parr reckons that the fact moves are being made to come up with proposals is a huge step forward from the situation the sport faced earlier this year.

In an interview with, Parr admitted that a looming worldwide recession was cause for concern - but he welcomed the fact that F1 was now making moves to try and sort itself out.

"Only an idiot would be confident about anything today," said Parr about his feelings for the future. "I joined [Williams] two years ago, and within a few days it was quite clear to me that we had to do something serious about costs.

"In January this year we all met in Paris, and [FIA president] Max [Mosley] said, 'look guys, we are going into a major challenging period for the car manufacturers with both sales and environmental sales. This is unsustainable and we need to do something about costs.' A number of us agreed strongly with that, and in fact I think everyone agreed actually.

"But we have done nothing for nine months. And that is the biggest mistake we have made. We could have done things that could take effect in 2009 and we haven't.

"Now, at last, I think everybody understands that we have to do something. And that is a bit like when you face up to the fact you are an alcoholic, isn't it? Until you reach that point there is no cure."

Mosley warned earlier this year that the sport was unsustainable in its current guise, and efforts have been made in recent weeks to make much-needed cost cuts.

Parr admitted that things were 'challenging' for independent teams like Williams, but said there was no major worry for his team - despite the difficulties faced by team sponsors the Baugar Group and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

"We are not here to market Kingfisher or Red Bull or Mercedes-Benz or any other product," said Parr about Williams' situation. "We are here to go racing - and there is no question that we are having a challenging time. But we have had a challenging time for ten years now.

"The best tonic in these times is to talk to Frank [Williams]. He is so buoyant and so optimistic. And, let's face it, he has been through stuff that makes all this look like child's play."

Although Parr says he foresees no problem with the future sponsorship deal with the Royal Bank of Scotland, he admits there is uncertainty about the team's deal with Icelandic investment company the Baugar Group.

"I don't know how things are going to develop with the Baugar group, but you have to remember that the businesses on our car are operating units in which Baugar has investments and are, without exception, very good businesses," he said.

"That is why Philip Green is trying to spend £2 billion to buy them. What that means for us I cannot tell you, but they are good solid businesses and they always have been. The issue with Baugar is that its financing is from banks that are in trouble, so I don't know how that is going to pan out. It is just too early to say."

Parr agrees with the FIA that the focus for change has to be on the costs of engines in F1, although he drew short of expressing support for plans to introduce a standard engine in the sport.

"We are not commenting on that (the standard engine proposal), but Williams' view is that we have to cut costs as a sport. That view is shared by almost everybody else.

"The single biggest cost for an independent team or manufacturer is the engine, so we have to do something about it. When we froze the engine for five years it was a massive mistake, a massive mistake. We froze a very expensive engine, and the thinking at the time was that it was not a performance differentiator and therefore you could freeze it. Subsequently it turned out that maybe it was a performance differentiator, or it has become a performance differentiator, and therefore you cannot have a frozen engine.

"All but one of the manufacturers has said that opening up an engine for a development war is not feasible, because they have not got the money or appetite to do it. So what are you going to do? If you cannot race for competition for the engine then you have to have an engine that is not a performance differentiator.

"What is the point in having an engine that is not a performance differentiator that costs an unfeasibly large amount of money? What is the point? It will be like spending 100 million Euros a year on tyres when we all have the same tyres. What is the point? Williams' view is we don't know what the right solution is, but clearly you have got to start with the engine."

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