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Formula One abandons cost cap plan

FIA President Jean Todt speaks after a meeting with the Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff at the Planalto Palace August 23, 2012. REUTERS/Ue
FIA President Jean Todt speaks after a meeting with the Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff at the Planalto Palace August 23, 2012. REUTERS/Ue

By Alan Baldwin

MANAMA (Reuters) - Formula One has abandoned plans to impose a budget cap in 2015 and will seek to reduce costs instead through regulation changes, FIA president Jean Todt said on Sunday.

The governing International Automobile Federation announced last year that, with some teams struggling financially, it planned to introduce a cost cap for next season with an agreement scheduled for June 2014.

However Todt, speaking to reporters at the Bahrain Grand Prix, said leading teams had made clear they did not believe the initiative was viable.

"I understand that all the (six) teams that are part of the strategy group are against the cost cap now," he said.

"So clearly, if the commercial rights holder (Bernie Ecclestone), and if six teams...are against, I cannot impose. It's mathematics. In this case, no more cost cap."

Under the new governance of the sport, a strategy group that includes six leading teams - champions Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, Williams, McLaren and Lotus - have six votes. Ecclestone's Formula One Management has six and so does the FIA.

"In a way I am disappointed because it may be more difficult to achieve the reduction which I feel is needed," said Todt, who was attending his first race of the year.

"But everyone says we are all in favor of reducing the cost, and through sporting regulations."

Force India deputy principal Bob Fernley, one of the five teams without a vote and a critic of the strategy group, expressed disappointment.

"That's shows the frailty of the system as it is today," he told reporters after his Mexican driver Sergio Perez had finished third in Sunday's floodlit race.

"I think you need regulation to help but you also need cost control," he added.

"We have to get the teams viable, for the sustainability of the sport."

Sauber and Lotus, who were fourth last year but have yet to score a point in the new V6 turbo era, had financial troubles last year.

Attempts to curb spending have fallen apart in the past, with the sport split between big-spending companies such as Austrian energy drinks firm Red Bull and others competing on a fraction of the big teams' budgets.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Martyn Herman)

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