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Manufacturers say engine talks heading in right direction

NEWS STORY
25/06/2006

Despite speculation that the FIA's plans for a three-year engine freeze beginning in 2008 could run into trouble, with manufacturers leaving the sport, talking in Montreal, representatives of several manufacturers said that discussions are progressing well.

"I think it is a positive situation," said BMW's Mario Theissen. "We are evaluating what is good for the sport, what is good for the teams and everybody involved, and in the Sporting Working Group, Charlie Whiting confirmed that the FIA will support this process. So for the time being, I think it is a good situation and a good discussion."

"At the moment, assuming it carries on with good dialogue over the next week or so, I think there's light at the end of the tunnel," added Honda's Nick Fry. "We want something which is good for the future of Formula One and a good compromise obviously between technology: a level playing field for all the competitors and obviously a level of cost reduction, so it really is a combination of things and ideally we want that from next year, providing we can reach something which meets all those criteria. But time is tight.

"There were discussions about having this tidied up by the end of June, which means that we've got to move fairly quickly between now and the end of next week."

Asked if the issue can be "tidied up" by next Friday (June 30), Mercedes' Norbert Haug said: "I think we're heading in the right direction… the whole process started two years ago when we all met in Monaco in May and I think cost-cutting is important but it is as important to have Formula One as the pinnacle of motor sport and I think both could be combined and everybody needs to compromise.

"So obviously if you want to have unanimous agreement at the end - and I think that's what we all should strive for, because that would send a great signal from inside Formula One to outside Formula One - I think it is possible. And maybe it is just in time, but if we could achieve that two years after the discussion had started, and if you really have dramatic cost-cuts by then, then I think we all, as teams, as manufacturer teams especially, have done a good job.

"It is well known that the teams get more money in the future," he added, referring to the recent Memorandum of Understanding, "which is fair; saving money on the one hand, getting more money into the teams on the other hand is a positive movement and I think that is very valuable for the teams and for Formula One."

As ever, Ferrari's Jean Todt sees things slightly differently: "We must bear in mind that one of the issues for 2008 rules was how to reduce costs drastically for Formula One," said the Frenchman. "The FIA rules, which are the ones at the moment, which should be applied do answer to this concern.

"Then, in the meantime, we have had some meetings: one, with an outcome, which was called the Maranello meeting," he continued. "We are supporting this proposal which will cost more money than the actual (current) one in the FIA rules for '08, and another set of proposals which are the Monaco proposal.

"We will see, in the coming days, what will be the final solution. We have the Formula One Commission in Paris on the sixth of July and we have one other very important point which is the 2007 rules, because, as I've said before, it does apply to '08 and it will not be very constructive to develop full speed the engines from now until the end of '07 and to be due to come back to the actual (current) engine specification. So I hope that we manage to find a proper solution which will achieve the initial target."

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