No backing down on test cuts

Fresh agreement among the nine Formula 1 teams to reduce testing by 50 percent will definitely come into force next year, even if Ferrari decides to go it alone and not support the new package of rules

No backing down on test cuts

That was the clear message given out by leading figures after Tuesday's breakthrough Heathrow meeting where F1 appeared to be entering a new period of co-operation and agreement between teams following years of arguments about radical changes to the sport's rules.

The meeting took place without Ferrari, because the individuals who should have attended were not able to because of personal reasons - and not because they were deliberately trying to snub the cost-cutting moves.

And although there is no guarantee Ferrari will accept what has been agreed by the nine other teams, McLaren boss Ron Dennis made it clear that even if Ferrari declined to support the plans, it would not bring an end to the cost-cutting initiatives.

"We will go it alone," said Dennis. "We would like them to concur with our views on testing, but it is intended to go with or without them.

"They can test un-restricted completely, and everyone can draw their own conclusions from that. We are committed to finding the best economic way forward for the vast majority of teams."

In the five-hour meeting at Heathrow, the teams agreed to a set of regulations that will come into force next year, even if Ferrari chooses to do its own thing.

In terms of cutting costs, the outcome of the meeting was that:

Testing is to be limited to a maximum of 24 days during the season, with each team restricted to only running at one track on one of its days

The format of Friday practice will remain as it was for 2004, despite plans made in Brazil for it to change to a four-hour test session. This is because of the probable need for tyre testing to continue in 2005

Moves should be made to restrict F1 to a single tyre-supplier as soon as possible. Although this may only probably happen for 2006, there is still an outside chance it could be brought in for 2005

Ways should be examined of ending the need for unanimous support for any major change of rules. It is hoped that decisions will in future only require 70 per cent approval from the teams

Dennis added that he believed the teams were finally proving that it was possible for them to push for changes in the sport - even if some outfits now had to sacrifice their own personal gain to do things that were better overall for the sport.

"We are determined to demonstrate to ourselves and to those people who constantly criticise our inability to agree that we are determined to find, even if it is only nine of the teams, the best way forward for grand prix racing.

"On those occasions where it will require us to disadvantage ourselves then we will take a pragmatic and practical view on it."

Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone added: "We are trying to give the public a better world championship. We have been a bit ashamed that we have not been delivering the goods over the last two or three years and we are going to try and make sure we are and we can."

The teams involved, plus Ecclestone, are now likely to canvas for Ferrari's support for the changes - even though their agreement is not required.

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