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Fighting Fund: Putting out the fire with gasoline?

NEWS STORY
15/07/2006

At a time when the relationship between the manufacturers and the FIA is delicate, to put it mildly, it would appear that Max Mosley is attempting to use gasoline to put out the fire, following his call for the instigation of a fighting fund for engine manufacturers.

The fighting fund would see the five members of the Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association - BMW, DamlerChrysler, Honda, Renault and Toyota - pay money into a central fund which would be used to finance another engine supplier - to be chosen by the FIA - which would supply customer engines to those teams that need them.

We are not talking small numbers either, according to some estimates the manufacturers would pay around £10.2m a year (each) into the fund, for five years, which would then be handed over to the FIA's chosen supplier.

Naturally, the manufacturers are unhappy, while, surprise, surprise, the proposal has the support of the independent teams. Then again, Pitpass would be equally delighted, not to say ecstatic, if the FIA could arrange for Autosport.com, Formula1.com, ITV-F1.com and others to pay money into its coffers... we'd let Joe Saward off because we like him.

Mosley's thinking is that should the manufacturers sign up to the so-called Indianapolis Agreement - for which the (new) deadline is Sunday night - which would see the engine freeze brought forward to 2007. The money the manufacturers would save during that one season - should they have continued developing their engines - would amount to more than the figure being quoted for the 'fighting fund'.

Therefore, Max is offering a 'nice price' deal, whereby manufacturers don't waste money developing engines for one season, but instead spread the money over five years to give it to the less fortunate, which could mean Midland or even Prodrive.

In an interview with SpeedTV.com, Mosley explained the proposal.

"What is being suggested is that instead of the existing regulations, which is that all the motors are fixed at the level of June 1 this year, a certain very restricted level of development can take place.

"We're saying to the manufacturers we will agree to that, provided that somebody puts up the money for at least one independent engine supplier to be able to keep up with the development. That will cost about 15m Euros per year.

"Somebody has got to put this money up," he added, "and it should be the manufacturers, so if you want to continue developing the engine, you've got to provide the money to somebody independent to keep up, because one day we may not have any manufacturers, but we still want to have engines."

Which would appear to indicate that Mr Mosley has realised that should the manufacturers be chased away from F1 - which is how it has looked for some time - they might, they just might, take their engines with them.

"Everyone is pretty well agreed that continued development for the next five years, on the basis of the Indianapolis Agreement, will cost a minimum of 15m Euros a year," added Mosley. "We are saying you've got to put this money up, then we will put the supply of engines out to tender, so that we know that we've got an engine supplier who can keep up with development because they've got the 15m, and then we'll know that the independent teams will always have an engine. It's like a safety net. It wouldn't stop them doing deals with individual manufacturers, but we insist there must be a safety net."

Asked if Cosworth would be a candidate for 'favoured engine supplier', Mosley said: Absolutely. We'll put it out to tender. We'll say there's the development money, how much can you supply engines for, and personnel and so on, like any other tender."

As for the $64,000 question, or should that be $95m dollar question, as to how the manufacturers will feel, giving their money to a rival (engine) company, Mosley replied: "If they want to continue developing the engines."

As we said, at a time when we were all hoping for some form of agreement, be it the 'Maranello Proposal', the 'Monaco Proposal', the 'Indianapolis Agreement' or the 'Third Cubicle in Leicester Square Gents Agreement', we all want this sorted. However, we cannot see the manufacturers agreeing...

And just to make it worse, one of the names being put forward as a potential engine supplier is Mecachrome... which, in case you might have forgotten, is owned by Flavio Briatore.

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