Formula 1 teams prepare for urgent talks
30 April 2014 – Formula 1's 11 teams will meet at Biggin Hill, south of London, on Thursday for crunch talks over the financial future of the sport.
FIA President Jean Todt called the meeting last month to 'clarify the means to achieve a substantial F1 team cost reduction' following confirmation that initial plans for a cost cap had been scrapped.
The meeting comes after four of Formula 1's smaller teams - Force India, Sauber, Marussia and Caterham - angrily wrote to the FIA to question why the cost cap had been abandoned, after all 11 teams had previously agreed its implementation.
Those four teams do not sit on the Strategy Group, which is made up of six votes from the FIA, six for the Commerical Rights Holder and six for the Formula 1 teams, currently represented by Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Lotus.
Smaller teams have repeatedly vented their frustration against the way revenue is distributed among the teams, with an estimated £70m gap between the top outfits and those towards the lower end of the championship table, a number of which are struggling financially.
The 'big' six teams believe that a three-year cost reduction plan will aid the sport, but while Force India's Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley says the smaller teams are willing to listen, they cannot understand why the cost cap was shelved.
"I think it's difficult to tell until we listen to what the FIA comes up with," he told Autosport. "They've made a directional change, we've challenged that change, they've now set a meeting up and we need to listen before we can make the next step.
"We can't understand why there is this direction change because there's no mandate for it. There is no provision to change tack - it's about delivering on what we've all agreed needs delivering."
Sauber's Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn believes that Formula 1 urgently needs to make a decision on its financial future.
"What is commonly known, particularly from the FIA side, is that there was a meeting of the teams and following that there was a press release from the FIA that the budget cap had been agreed in principle," she said.
"Everybody was in agreement with this as well as generally reducing costs. We failed to understand in the process where the budget cap has been rejected, we were never informed officially and know it only through the media.
"I have the hope that with this meeting coming up on May 1 that we will come to some conclusion and that it's not going to be just one of the meetings we've had before without a significant step.
"Time is running [out] and we have soon the middle of the year when we need to make a decision because we need to have this in place at the beginning of next year. It's important for the credibility of the key players in the sport, because there were public announcements made that we want to have this in place for next year."