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FIA wants teams to pay for budget cap inspectors

india Updated: Jan 31, 2008 18:33 IST

Reuters
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Formula One's governing body has suggested teams should fund a dedicated group of forensic accountants to police spending restrictions being introduced next season.

Representatives of the 11 teams were meeting with the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) in Paris on Thursday to put flesh on the bones of a proposed budget cap.

The FIA has warned already that failure to agree limits on expenditure would lead to more draconian measures, including severe restrictions on the use of wind tunnels.

However, FIA president Max Mosley told reporters in London this week that the teams, some with estimated budgets in excess of 400 million euros ($594.8 million), were broadly in favour of a cap as a means of cutting costs.

He suggested each team might contribute two million euros to pay for a task force of about 30 financial experts who could inspect accounts and ensure the rules were being respected.

"If you are going, let's say, from (a budget of) 200 million euros down to 100 million, then even if you spent two million euros a team you are still saving 98," said Mosley. "For that kind of money, you can really check.

"The experience with McLaren and Ferrari taught us that if you deploy the resources and you get sufficient expertise, you can find almost anything," he added.

"And the chances of somebody being able to do work that we couldn't find traces of start to be very small."

McLaren were embroiled in a spying controversy with Ferrari last year, with the FIA sending experts into the Mercedes-powered team's Woking factory to trawl through their computer systems.

McLaren were subsequently fined $100 million and stripped of all their constructors' points for the season.

Mosley said Thursday's meeting was to discuss 'generalities' before going into more detail at a later date. He recognised that there would be a wide divergence of opinion.

As a senior figure at one of the independent teams told Reuters, two million euros might be small change to the likes of McLaren, Ferrari or Toyota but it remained a considerable amount for others.

"We hope to produce a rule by June but we may run into problems that we haven't foreseen," said Mosley of the cap. "But for the moment most of the accountants we talk to say it must be possible."

"We mustn't do it too dramatically...that is very much the topic of discussion between teams," he added.

"Obviously, you've got to pitch it on the high side to begin with and then bring it down."

Mosley has long campaigned to slash costs and help level the playing field for smaller teams and he said the budget cap would reward those who spent their money intelligently.

"An engineer is somebody who can do for one dollar what any idiot can do for 100 dollars," he said. "That's very much the spirit of the thing."