By Alan Baldwin
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The head of Formula One's governing body Jean Todt has compared Ferrari's veto rights to a "gun in the pocket" that must be handled with care.
Ferrari last month used their historic right to block a move to reduce the cost of engines and gearboxes for struggling teams.
"It was a disappointment when Ferrari decided to use its veto right on the price of limitation, for the customer teams, so I have been trying to see what could be an option," Todt, himself a former Ferrari team principal, told reporters at the Mexican Grand Prix.
"A veto is like having a gun in the pocket, so you must be careful when you use it."
The FIA is now consulting all Formula One stakeholders about the possibility of introducing a cheaper alternative powertrain (engine and gearbox) option from 2017.
Todt felt 12 million euros ($13.21 million) was "an acceptable figure" for a customer engine, still far less than currently charged, but the alternative option would aim for a price tag of six to seven million euros.
Ferrari currently supply three teams, including their own.
Todt added that he was "quite optimistic" that the next Strategy Group meeting would vote in favor and the proposal would then be presented to the FIA's Formula One commission and World Motor Sport Council for approval.
The Frenchman was critical of the sport's distribution of revenues, with big teams like Ferrari getting a far greater share than smaller independent ones.
"It starts with a completely unbalanced distribution of the revenues, and here we cannot do anything," he said.
"I would hope that the teams will get access to the best revenues and will be able to pay an affordable price for the engines as customers.
"If we are not able to get this solution, we need to find another solution because otherwise the risk is that teams go bankrupt," said Todt.
Ferrari are the only team to have a veto and Todt said it was a historic right from the 1980s and negotiated by founder Enzo Ferrari at a time when the Italian team felt isolated against British-based rivals.
"It has to be demonstrated that it is something which goes against their interests," he said, adding that the wording had been changed over the years to make it more precise. "You need to have a strong rationale to exercise it."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)