F1 revamp on agenda at 'crucial' strategy meeting

Reuters News
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Posted: May 13, 2015 7:20 AM

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One bosses and top teams will meet on Thursday to discuss a revamp of the sport, as well as technical concerns, but with considerable doubt over how much they can actually agree.

Past Strategy Group meetings, each billed as increasingly 'crucial', have rarely lived up to even modest expectations.

"We might change the date of the next meeting. Possibly. I’m not sure. It’s not easy to get decisions made," commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone told Reuters when asked what might be achieved this time.

Leaving aside the 84-year-old's cynicism, Formula One has major challenges to address including soaring costs, struggling teams, falling viewing figures in some regions and a failure to engage a younger audience.

Ferrari are among those to have called for a rules 'revolution' from 2017, with bigger, louder and more affordable engines in faster and more fearsome cars.

More immediately, there will be a vote on whether to increase the engine allocation for this season from four per driver back to the five they had last year -- with some teams opposed.

The Strategy Group meeting at Biggin Hill in southern England includes six teams -- Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Williams and Force India -- as well as the governing FIA and commercial rights holder.

"Every meeting is crucial," FIA president Jean Todt told Reuters at the Spanish Grand Prix last weekend.

"We know there are some things to assess. And I hope we will be able to have a good agenda and come with good proposals and decisions to submit to the F1 commission and then to the world council.

"I hate reacting to ‘this one says this, this one says that’," he added when the various standpoints were put to him. "So we will have all the different stakeholders around the table and it will be a proper opportunity to speak about everything.

"A lot of work has been done, we have been doing some working groups, an enquiry with an external consultant, with the technical and sporting people, so I think we will have a quite clear situation to discuss about."

The increased engine allocation proposal already looks doomed, however, with Mercedes-powered Williams and Force India against it on grounds of cost and a reluctance to help Renault-powered rivals Red Bull in the championship battle.

Red Bull and McLaren, whose partners Honda have also had reliability problems, are in favor.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)