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F1: Flag in sight for struggling teams?

2014-06-27 08:41

This is a shot from the Marussia media site - but will this team, like other smaller outfits, disappear from the Formula 1 grid in 2015? Image: Marussia

  • Three cars per team in2014
  • Top-teams cabal cedes zip
  • Budget cap dead in water

MUNICH, Germany - Formula 1's last chance to slash costs to help struggling teams survive into 2015 has come and gone.

The International Automobile Federation's World Motor Sport Council met here on Thursday (June 26 2014) just before the end-of-June deadline for rule changes to be made for the 2015 season without the near-impossible need for unanimity.

A budget cap proposal is already dead in the water though many struggling teams had hoped meaningful cost reductions would be agreed before the deadline but the new and powerful 'strategy group' - dominated by the most competitive and richest teams - has ceded only a handful of minor measures.

They were rubber-stamped by the federation on Thursday.

TINKERING, NOT SURVIVING

Engine use has been reduced by one 'power unit' per driver to four in 2015, wind-tunnel use has been reduced for 2015 from 80 to 65 hours per week, Bahrain winter testing has been banned and the personnel 'curfew' at races has been lengthened.

The use of computational fluid dynamics has been further restricted, teams will no longer be able to use more than one wind tunnel for testing and two of the four in-season tests have been scrapped.

Many agree that the changes amount to tinkering rather than a substantial move to ensure the survival of struggling teams. Roger Benoit, veteran correspondent for Swiss newspaper Blick, wondered: "Is this the end for Marussia, Caterham or Sauber?"

Indeed, with Jean Todt and Bernie Ecclestone acknowledging the prospect of losing teams, it is known that detailed talks about three-car teams have already taken place.

'THIRD CAR IS ONE WAY...'

Toto Wolff, boss of the currently dominant Mercedes team, said: "We have 11 teams and I hope they will stay in F1 but the past 50 years has shown that some teams come, some teams go.

"It their numbers fall below a critical level then having a third car (in each team) could be a way to fill the grid."

Franz Tost, boss of Red Bull's junior team Toro Rosso, also admitted "the risk is there" that the F1 grid of 2015 will not feature all 22 cars of today. However, current rules do not allow allow three-car teams and the June 30 deadline for non-unanimous rule changes has passed.

"No," Tost was quoted as saying by Italy's Omnicorse. "If it were needed I would not be surprised to see third cars in 2015."

TITANIUM SKID BLOCKS

Meanwhile, at the Munich meeting on Thursday, the federations representatives also banned the ugly 'anteater'-style noses for 2015 but rubber-stamped the use of titanium skid blocks so that they are "lighter" and "better contained".

Titanium skid blocks were tested in practice in Austria last weekend, with the aim of spicing up the show with 1980's-style showers of sparks.

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 F1 season – fresh reports every day
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