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F1 eyes costs in slumping economy

A slimmed-down Formula One championship using standardized engines is being proposed to ensure that the sport survives the global economic crisis.

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LONDON–A slimmed-down Formula One championship using standardized engines is being proposed to ensure that the sport survives the global economic crisis.

Drastic cost reductions will be discussed at a meeting next week in Geneva hosted by FIA president Max Mosley with the 10 team chiefs.

Ahead of the summit, Mosley has warned that current costs are “unsustainable.”

On Wednesday, the 2009 French Grand Prix was cancelled when the cash-strapped French Motorsport Federation withdrew its backing of the Formula One race. The federation’s board said it didn’t want to risk a financial loss by holding the race next year.

In 2008, F1 team owners splashed out a combined $1.6 billion (U.S.) following the arrival of Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya’s Force India team. That’s up from $1.47 billion in 2007, according to a report from industry monitor Formula Money.

“Even before current global financial problems, teams were spending far more than their incomes, in so far as these consist of sponsorship plus FOM (Formula One Management) money,” Mosley said in documents sent to the teams, published Wednesday by The Times of London and verified by the FIA.

“As a result, the independent teams are now dependent on the goodwill of rich individuals, while the manufacturers’ teams depend on massive handouts from their parent companies.”

Mosley is concerned about the fate of small teams.

Super Aguri’s two-year stint in F1 ended in May when it withdrew due to financial difficulties.

“There is now a real danger that, in some cases, these subsidies will cease,” Mosley said. “This could result in a reduction in the number of competitors, adding to the two team vacancies we already have and reducing the grid to an unacceptable level.

“The FIA’s view is that Formula One can only be healthy if a team can race competitively for a budget at or very close to what it gets from FOM (Formula One Management).”

Mosley will propose that standard engines are used from 2010 built by the teams themselves or by a single supplier or contractor, and that cars from 2013 use a chassis with more “common parts.”

The FIA wants Formula One engines from 2013 to be more fuel and energy efficient.

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