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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Ferrari and Mercedes huddle up after F1 owners Liberty plan cost cap for Formula One

For sport's leading teams, planned budget cap and revenue controls could mean less dominant role in competition

Ferrari, in red, and Mercedes-GP are likely to be the teams most concerned about the new F1 owners' proposals. Dave Acree / EPA
Ferrari, in red, and Mercedes-GP are likely to be the teams most concerned about the new F1 owners' proposals. Dave Acree / EPA

Formula One teams heard a challenging vision of a cost-controlled and "Americanised" sport when new owners Liberty Media revealed their blueprint for the future on Friday.

For the sport's two leading teams, Mercedes and Ferrari, the planned budget cap and revenue controls would mean, in all likelihood, a less dominant role in the sport.

After hearing the five-point plan, the team managers of the two top teams immediately held a meeting of their own as Mercedes team chiefs Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda invited Maurizio Arrivabene of Ferrari to their hospitality building at the track in Bahrain.

The meetings were held just hours ahead of Friday's opening free practice session for this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix.

The long-awaited statement covered five key areas: control of budgets and revenues, a new structure for governance, sporting and technical rules, engines, and overall costs.

The introduction of a cost cap, designed to put the onus on wise spending rather than cuts, together with streamlining other areas of the organisation, was a main feature of a package aimed at making the sport more "fan-centred".

"Formula One is a sport with a rich history," Formula One chief executive Chase Carey said. "We want to preserve, protect and enhance that history by unleashing F1's potential, by putting our fans at the heart of a more competitive and more exciting sport.

"We are driven by one desire - to create the world's leading sporting brand. Fan-centred, commercially successful, profitable for our teams and with technological innovation at its heart."

F1's technical director Ross Brawn was also at the meeting.

"It was more a meeting to pass the information on and to pass the views onto the teams," Brawn said. "The teams need to digest it now, and then the discussion proper will start. It was a straightforward meeting with no major controversies."

The budget cap, which may cause Ferrari to consider their commitment to the sport, is due to be introduced as part of the package from 2021.

In a series of radical proposals, the teams were told that income will be re-distributed and costs controlled. The package was described as a series of "strategic initiatives".

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The key proposals included cheaper, louder and more powerful engines, which are "road relevant" and eliminate the need for controversial grid penalties.

The plan for a cost cap was described as a move that "maintains F1's position at the pinnacle of motorsport with a state-of-the-art technology".

The plan said revenue is to be distributed more fairly, based on meritocracy, but, in what is probably a gesture to Ferrari, will also be respectful of the past.

"F1's unique, historical franchise and value must and will still be recognised."

The proposal also pledged to "make cars more race-able to increase overtaking opportunities" and added that while engineering technology will continue to be a cornerstone, a "driver's skill must the predominant factor".

A simple and streamlined structure of governance between teams, ruling body the International Motoring Federation (FIA) and the commercial rights holders was also proposed.

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