Test agreement faces collapse

Formula 1's much-heralded testing limitation agreement is still facing a serious chance of collapse, autosport.com can exclusively reveal, despite hopes that the nine team bosses who have so far agreed to the plans will stick to it in spite of Ferrari's decision to keep to its own programme

Test agreement faces collapse

Although a provisional agreement was signed at a meeting of team principals at Heathrow in London on Tuesday, autosport.com has learned that Ferrari's final decision remains absolutely crucial to the resolve of several teams - especially those fighting with the Italian outfit for the world championship.

The latest agreement limits teams to 30 days testing, with them not being allowed to test at more than one circuit on the same day or with more than two cars. They also cannot test at circuits that host an event on the calendar, except for Silverstone, Barcelona and Monza.

The announcement of the decision of nine teams to sign up the plan came as a surprise to some, because BAR and its engine partner Honda had made it clear over recent weeks that it would not deliberately hinder its own championship hopes by restricting testing if Ferrari went ahead with its own larger testing schedule.

Speaking exclusively to autosport.com, team boss Nick Fry confirmed that the team's stance had in fact not changed at all - and that it signed up to the 30-day limit because it hoped it would be a means of enticing Ferrari to also join in.

"We have signed the agreement and the teams all agreed to it on the same basis - with no riders or conditions at all," said Fry. "Clearly that hope is that by all signing up to it, it will be a means of bringing Ferrari into the fold."

Fry went on to clarify that should Ferrari now still refuse to accept the testing limitation, then it was almost certain that teams would have to reconsider their position - and any decision to expand their testing programmes would scupper the agreement.

"If Ferrari decides not to sign up, then clearly there is no agreement in place and we will have to see how the situation develops and think about what we do," added Fry. "It would make a mockery of the sport if one team is out there testing with no limits.

"We were happy to come to the party but it would be ridiculous to expect teams to fight for the championship with one arm tied behind their backs. And I don't think we are the only ones who feel like that."

It had been hoped that even if Ferrari did not agree to the plans then the nine teams would still stick together and hope to 'shame' the Maranello outfit by declaring that their victories were only as the result of extra testing.

Ferrari itself is unmoved, claiming that its success has nothing to do with its testing programme. Sources at the team have also questioned whether the limit will actually save a lot of teams any money.

"Nothing has changed for us," a team spokesman confirmed to autosport.com. "We said in December than if agreement was not reached by January 10 then we would be free to do whatever we want, and that is what has happened."

The Maranello outfit has itself decided to unilaterally restrict its own testing programme to single car tests, which will likely save it more than £2 million over the course of the season and enable it to use 15 less staff for its testing programme. One team insider said: "If you look at the 30-day proposal, we would like someone to explain to use how it actually saves money, especially for the smaller teams."

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