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Teams ponder prize money overhaul

Formula One teams are considering a major overhaul of the sport's constructors' championship prize money structure in a move to help the smaller teams survive, autosport.com can reveal

As part of the ongoing evaluation by the new Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) about ways to improve grand prix racing, one concept that is being looked at is for the commercial revenue given to teams to be shared equally among them.

The present financial structure is a meritocracy - where payments are weighted on a team's final constructors' championship position. The higher a team finishes in the constructors' championship, the bigger share they get of the estimated $500 million (USD) revenue that is currently given to them by Formula One Management (FOM).

Although such a structure has been accepted for many years, the huge increase in F1's costs, allied to the difficult world financial climate, has prompted talk of ways to make things more even.

Formula One commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone has floated the idea of a new system being put in place - whereby the money is split equally. The matter is now being discussed inside FOTA - with the idea garnering some support.

Although the teams at the front may block the rule change because it would mean them getting less amoney, the rules of FOTA mean that only seven votes are needed among teams for a motion to carry.

Autosport.com understands four teams are already in favour of the idea - which would be enough to swing matters if there was a requirement for seven votes to prevent it going through.

One team principal source told autosport.com: "This would be a good way of securing the finances of all teams, without hindering those at the front. Teams that win are able to command more sponsorship money than those at the back anyway, so there will always be benefits to winning."

The hope is that by evening up the constructors' championship payments, it will make the sport more of a level-playing field - and more importantly help secure the future for back of the grid teams that are fighting for survival.

When asked by autosport.com for his feelings on the matter, team boss Frank Williams said: "The problem is that the people who win the most money, Ferrari and McLaren, the big boys, have enormous money and they can spend and spend, buy the best people and buy everything, whereas the small teams never get a chance.

"If you allow the big boys to carry on spending what they spend, it will never allow the second half of the field to compete. You will eventually just crush the second half."

Williams admitted he would have mixed feelings if the matter went to a vote inside FOTA, but conceded that keeping all teams on the grid was now a priority.

"What would we do if the teams were asked to vote on it?" he said. "The survival instinct would say yes. The common sense argument would say yes. But it is not competition in a way.

"So, I don't know. The survival instinct would need to have the upper hand in several establishments, including in Grove, otherwise you are banished to just struggle, struggle, and struggle to try and get back on equal terms."

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