2006 San Marino Grand Prix - Race 4/18

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Briatore wants new F1 deal by Nurburgring

Renault boss Flavio Briatore is still hoping the team can sign a long-term commercial agreement with Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone at the European Grand Prix, even though other manufacturers are still reluctant to commit themselves.

Negotiations between Ecclestone, commercial owners CVC Capital Partners and Briatore, who had been put forward by the manufacturers to lead negotiations in the latest round of talks over a commercial deal, have left the carmakers closer than ever to finding a settlement.

But despite Briatore saying he is happy with the latest offer from Ecclestone, and wanting to sign-up at Imola last weekend, the other members of the Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association (GPMA) still want more talks to improve the terms.

They held a meeting at the San Marino Grand Prix to discuss whether to accept the latest Ecclestone offer negotiated by Briatore, but decided to reject it.

The current terms on offer from Ecclestone, of 50 percent of the sport's entire commercial revenue, is understood to be 10 percent less than what had been on the table prior to the failed talks on the eve of the Bahrain Grand Prix, when Ecclestone suddenly revised his terms downwards.

One source suggested the difference could be as much as $100 million per season - which amounts to $500 million over the five-year term of the new commercial arrangement.

"It is far more than the cost of a motorhome, as some people have been saying," explained the source.

The failure of the other GPMA members to agree to the offer left Renault unable to sign up at Imola thanks to a pact of unity signed between the GPMA members last September. It means that none of manufacturers can act unilaterally is signing up with Ecclestone.

However, Briatore has made it clear that he is still targeting a deal as soon as the next race.

"Once we find a solution we will sign at the Nurburgring," he said. "I don't wait for anybody. With the negotiations, at some point, we have to stop."

McLaren boss Ron Dennis, who has played a key role in the talks, is less optimistic that a deal is that close.

"Whilst there are some drafts, there is a lot of work to be done before there is a document we can feel comfortable with," he said. "Preceding that there are some first steps to be taken and, while everyone's position is different, it is not radically so.

"The common desire is to strengthen and stabilise F1. That's what we want to see. I think we can make F1 better if we are a unified entity."

When asked what the sticking points are, he said: "It is inappropriate to say. I don't think there is anything that is insurmountable, but it is a stressful process.

"Everyone has different long term strategies and it's trying to make everyone's interests common. That is difficult, but not impossible, there is light at the end of the tunnel."

But following talks between FIA president Max Mosley and BMW's Burkhard Goeschel, who is head of the GPMA, at Imola, as well as a big push from CVC's Donald MacKenzie over the weekend, the likelihood is that a deal can still be agreed before the end of next month.

One high-level source involved in the negotiations said: "I think we are highly likely to have something agreed by the Monaco Grand Prix, although it may not actually be formally signed then."
 
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A new Ferrari deal for Schumacher?

According to a report in the German newspaper Bild, Ferrari has offered seven-time World Champion, a new two-year contract.

According to the report, the Maranello outfit has offered the German £24m ($43m), a year for two years, in addition to an opt-out clause which would him allow to 'retire' should he win another title.

"The best part of it is that it doesn't tie Schumacher unconditionally for two more years," said the report. "He could, if he wanted to, get out of it without any problem sooner.

"He could opt out after the 2007 season, or even after the current season, because the new contract has a 'world champion clause'. If he had the title in his pocket he could quit the next day, if he wanted to."

Ferrari refuses to comment on this and other speculation, and is instead waiting on Michael to make up his own mind as to whether he continues racing or not. It's widely understood that the German will announce his decision in June or July.

Meanwhile, Schumacher's spokeswoman Sabine Kehm has dismissed the report as "pure speculation".
 
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Liuzzi unhurt in testing smash

Vitantonio Liuzzi escaped injury in a heavy testing accident at Silverstone on Wednesday.

The Italian, testing for the senior Red Bull team for the second time this year, crashed at the entry to the very fast Becketts complex shortly before one o’clock.

He made a precautionary visit to the circuit medical centre but was uninjured.

The RB2 was badly damaged and Liuzzi will play no further part in the day’s proceedings, but is expected to return to action on Thursday.

"Going into Becketts he lost control of the car and he’s had quite a sizeable accident at 275kph (170mph)," Red Bull boss Christian Horner told ITV-F1.com.

"The car got away from him but he’s fine.

"At the moment we don’t understand why it happened because he was going no faster or slower than on previous laps.

"The engineers are going through the data now to try and see what happened.

"It’s certainly focused his mind a bit.

"He’s okay, that the main thing.

"He won’t run this afternoon but he’ll be back out tomorrow and the car will be ready for him."

170mph impact...

Ouch...
 
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Cosworth propose boost button for F1

Engine suppliers Cosworth have suggested the introduction of a boost button to help increase overtaking in Formula One.

The system, which has been successfully used in the A1 GP series this season, allows a driver to have access to more engine power with the click of a button.

In A1 GP's case, the boost button allowed a driver to have an extra 30HP for a limited number of times during a race.

Cosworth's proposal would require rev-limited engines that would surpass that limit when the button is pressed, this helping a driver overtake.

"It's a spectacular and relatively simple solution: the idea is to supply, during the race, an amount of time of extra revs equals to one or two laps' worth," Cosworth's commercial director Bernand Ferguson told Autosprint magazine.
 
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Red Bull Racing sign new strategy chief

Red Bull Racing appear to have pulled off another personnel coup with sources claiming that they have lured McLaren operations chief Neil Martin to be their new Head of Strategic Operations.

Although the news has not been confirmed by the team, there are suggestions that he will be joining Red Bull at the start of next year after seeing out his current contract with McLaren.

The Milton Keynes-based outfit have been on a huge recruitment drive over the winter in a bid to put together the personnel that they believe they need to allow them to fight for wins. Insiders suggest they see Martin's capture as one of their 'key' moves. He was McLaren's Team Leader of Operational Research.

As well as his strategy input which proved crucial at races, Martin provided factory based technological support to the race team. This allowed them to have access to data on parts and strategy that would help their performance at the track.

He helped co-ordinate software to give the team instant access to data on specific car components, rather than needing to refer back to systems at the factory. This often proved crucial in helping the team deal with problems encountered on cars during races.

Speaking a few years ago about the systems that he helped set-up, Martin said: "The pitwall team no longer runs to us for help. Their silence is possibly the highest praise you can receive: it speaks volumes for the display system's value."

Earlier this month, Red Bull Racing announced that they had appointed Renault's Keith Saunt as their new Operations Director.

Red Bull Racing's capture of Martin comes after the recruitment of technical director Adrian Newey and aerodynamicist Peter Prodromou from McLaren. Newey has already joined the outfit, while Prodromou is expected to switch teams at the start of next year.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis admitted recently that losing staff to rival teams was a part of F1 life.

"We are totally committed to our current design and engineering group," he said. "They are doing an excellent job... The vast majority of people in the organisation are on long multi-year contracts and there is an inevitability that they are approached by some of the teams that don't have the depth or calibre of staff that we enjoy.

"But that is just part of having a Formula One Grand Prix team and doing a good job. People are constantly going to be approached, but at the moment we are very stable, very focused and we have a very committed group of engineers and mechanics."
 
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BMW sign Zander as new chief designer

The BMW Sauber team have signed German Jorg Zander as their new chief designer, the Formula One squad announced on Tuesday.

Zander will take full responsibility for the design of the team's racing car starting next July, and he will report to technical director Willy Rampf.

"The development of the BMW Sauber F1 team continues to move forward, and that includes adding a chief designer to our staff line-up," said BMW motorsport boss Mario Theissen.

"We are certain that in Jorg Zander we have found the right man for this pivotal position. His experience will be an important asset to us."

Zander, 42, had started working in Formula One in 1999 with the Toyota team, before moving to BAR-Honda in 2002. In 2005, he was appointed head of design at the Williams team.

He had announced his exit from Williams earlier this year, citing personal reasons.

Zander added: "The BMW Sauber F1 team is in its set-up phase, which presents a major challenge. It isn't just a matter of technology but of laying down the structures and processes as well. Drawing on my experience, I would like to do my bit to support the team on its way up."
 
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Bridgestone to examine Schumacher tyres

Japanese tyre suppliers Bridgestone believe they are on the right path to returning to the top of the Formula One field following victory at the San Marino Grand Prix.

Bridgestone scored their first win since last year's United States Grand Prix, thanks to Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher holding off the challenge from world champion Fernando Alonso in his Michelin-shod Renault.

Schumacher's win, however, was not an easy one, following a struggle after his first pitstop, when he had problems with his Bridgestone tyres.

Bridgestone's head of development Hirohide Hamashima says the company will examine the tyres to find the reason for the drop in performance.

As the same time, however, Hamashima admitted he is pleased with the development rate of his company's tyres this season.

"I don't think the drop in performance of the second set was down to the temperatures, because otherwise instead of graining, our rubber would have suffered blistering and overheating," Hamashima told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"However, I can't deny that laptimes weren't as consistent as we predicted before the race: there was an excessive drop in performance.

"We'll deeply examine the tyres, but Ferrari's performance over the weekend comfort us because it demonstrates that, with the introduction of the new family of tyres started in Melbourne, we are on the right path.

"The time has come to abandon the tyres of older design and to concentrate on the new products."
 
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Honda still suspicious on Ferrari's wings

Honda Racing have written to the FIA claiming that they have fresh suspicions that Ferrari's rear wing is still flexing, even though the matter appeared to have been cleared up after the Australian Grand Prix.

Ferrari were at the centre of a row in Malaysia when eight of their rivals threatened to protest Michael Schumacher's car because they felt its front and rear wings were illegally flexing.

After intervention from the FIA, Ferrari were asked to make changes to their wings for the following race in Australia - where the situation appeared to calm down.

The issue of flexi-wings was then discussed at last week's meeting of thinktank the Technical Working Group, where the sport's technical directors decided that no change to regulations or new tests were needed for this season - although new slot-gap regulations and more rigorous tests were likely for 2007.

However, Ferrari's strong performance in last weekend's San Marino Grand Prix - especially their benchmark pace through the speed-traps – appears to have re-ignited the controversy.

In qualifying Michael Schumacher topped the speed trap figures at 295.1kph, with team-ate Felipe Massa just behind him on 294km/h. The nearest challenger was Juan Pablo Montoya at just 291.8km/h.

On the back of that performance, Honda Racing technical director Geoff Willis has subsequently written a letter to FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting expressing his concern at the situation.

Team boss Nick Fry confirmed to autosport.com that the letter had been written because of what the team had observed in Imola.

"Yes it's true," he said. "We just wanted to register our concerns, because at one point Michael Schumacher's car was 6km/h faster than Fernando Alonso and at another point he was 6km/h slower."

Fry added: "I believe we are all playing to the same rules, and if there are things Ferrari are doing and we are prevented from using them then something ought to be done. It should be a level playing field.

"In the last few months Charlie has done a superb job and when there were issues with the front wing Charlie reacted immediately. But it is now up to the FIA that we are all playing to the same rules. There is something that Geoff has been aware of and it is in the hands of Charlie now."

Willis was unavailable for comment today but told this week's Autosprint that he believed Ferrari's rear wing was still flexing – and that he had video evidence to support his views.

He told the Italian magazine: "I've already written to Charlie Whiting because the speed of the Ferrari at the end of each sector is amazing. I feel I have enough video evidence to demonstrate their rear wing still flexes."
 
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Prodrive to join F1 grid in 2008
Prodrive will line up alongside the 11 existing teams to contest the reshaped 2008 Formula One championship.
The decision by the FIA means David Richards, a former BAR and Benetton team boss, returns to the sport in charge of Prodrive.

His company were among 22 teams who applied for the 12 available slots on the starting grid for the 2008 season.

Bids from former Minardi boss Paul Stoddart, Eddie Jordan and BAR co-founder Craig Pollock were rejected.

Richards also runs Subaru's World Rally team and that, coupled with his previous experience in F1, helped swing the decision in his favour.

"Prodrive have the best combination of financial backing, technical capability and motorsport experience," said FIA president Max Mosley.


"The team are well known to the FIA through their participation in the World Rally Championship and Richards has experience as a Formula One team principal."

Richards left BAR at the end of 2004 after Honda increased their stake in the team and is now delighted to be back in the sport.

"This is wonderful news for everyone in the company," said Richards, who is seeking planning permission for a new Banbury-based factory.

"We always wanted to be in Formula One with our own Prodrive team and now we are one step closer.

"We now have less than two years to build a team and put two competitive cars on the starting grid. The task is enormous but we relish the challenge."

The FIA world council made the final decision on which teams would be given the nod for the 2008 campaign.

But Mosley said it was never an option to drop any of the existing teams, which means unproven Japanese newcomers Super Aguri retain their place.

The decision comes as a major disappointment not only to Stoddart and Jordan, who sold their teams last season, but Carlin Motorsport and Jean Alesi's Direxiv outfit, whose bids were very developed.

It is unlikely that they will get a chance in the near future to enter the F1 fray as Mosley ruled out further expansion.

"The limit of 12 teams was imposed for safety reasons and circuit facilities," said Mosley. "So, the number is unlikely to increase."
 
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wonder_lander said:
yes please but you appear to be suspend :confused:

Can't be bothered now tbh.

Practice and qualifying is over and I just can't be botherd to fart around with it all for now.

Not saying who's on pole as it's just come started on Sky Sports *the replay of qualifying anyway*

Bloody hot though. 65°C track temp. :eek:

Simon/~Flibster
 
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Going away from Wrinklies F1... or the OAP GP...

Back to the current F1

Prodrive in for 2008

Ex Benetton and BAR boss Dave Richards will be back in F1 in 2008.

Prodrive which is run by Richards has been accepted as the 12th and final team for the 2008 Formula 1 Championship and will join the 11 current teams on the grid in two years time.

The FIA published the list of accepted entrants this morning (Friday). In all 22 teams had applied for the 12 slots on the starting grid.

"This is wonderful news for everyone in the company," Richards said in a statement, "We have won World Rally Championships, British Touring Car titles and the GT1 class at Le Mans, and have been saying for some time that we would also like to be in Formula 1 with our own Prodrive team. We are now one step closer."

"Prodrive has the best combination of financial backing, technical capability and motorsport experience and is well known to the FIA through its participation in the World Rally Championship," said FIA president Max Mosley. "Also, Prodrive's chief executive, David Richards, has experience as a Formula One team principal."

Mosley indicated the grid was unlikely to increase to greater than 12 teams for reasons of safety and because it would be difficult to increase circuit facilities.

Richards controls the commercial rights to the world rally championship and Prodrive run Subaru's world rally team, the Aston Martin Le Mans sportscar team and compete in Australian V8 supercars with Ford. In 2004 BAR, now Honda, came second in the Formula 1 constructors championship wuth Richards at the helm and he also had a spell with Benetton prior to that.

Unsuccessful entrants included former Paul Stoddart ex owner of Minardi, the Direxiv team headed by Jean Alesi and backed by McLaren and British F3 frontrunners Carlin Motorsport.

Mosley said he was not surprised by the level of interest, with new regulations proposed to reduce the costs of competing significantly. "What pleased me most was the high calibre of entries received. With this kind of demand Formula One has a bright future," he said. "The 2008 Sporting Regulations have reduced the cost of competing and should improve the sporting spectacle at the same time. It makes for a very attractive prospect."

Richards was confident that the rule changes would allow Prodrive to be competitive, but warned that securing an entry was just the start.

"We now have less than two years to build a team and put two competitive cars on the starting grid for the first race of the 2008 championship," he said."The task is enormous and the expertise and experience of the established teams well recognised. However, Prodrive has more than 20 years of motorsport experience and all of us relish a challenge."
 
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Honda confirms partnership with NGK

The Honda team has confirmed a team partnership with NGK Spark Plugs.

As part of the agreement with the Honda Racing F1 Team, NGK Spark Plugs branding features on the rear wing end plate of the RA106 race car throughout the 2006 season.

Nick Fry, Chief Executive Officer of the Honda Racing F1 Team, commented: "We are delighted to have NGK Spark Plugs within our portfolio of team partners and we are excited about developing our association with such a well-respected brand within the motorsport industry. NGK's strong racing heritage and experience will undoubtedly benefit the team and we look forward to working closely with them in the future."

Kazuo Takiguchi, Senior Managing Director of NGK said: "Since 1964 when Honda began its F1 challenge, we have been supplying spark plugs for their engines. Today we are very proud to become a Team Technical Partner of the Honda Racing F1 Team."

Established in 1936, the Japanese company has established a world-leading reputation for quality and innovation in all its product areas, ranging from spark plugs and related products for internal combustion engines to new technical ceramic products. NGK Spark Plugs are widely used across all forms of motorsport including Formula One, touring cars, rally cars and motorcycle racing.
 
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Interview: Richards not rushing F1 plans

New Formula One team boss David Richards has said his Prodrive outfit are not going to rush into making early decisions about their plans for 2008, after having their entry confirmed on Friday.

Richards, who has had previous spells as team principal at Benetton and BAR, believes it is vital his team take a considered approach towards their F1 graduation in a bid to make the most of the opportunity given to them by a radical shake of regulations.

Speaking from Prodrive's factory in Banbury on Friday, Richards made it clear that the team were completely open-minded about the way they were going to approach Grand Prix racing.

"We are going to be very cautious over the next few months," he said. "The technical regulations are going to be confirmed in two months' times and, although there is no reason to believe they will be much different from where we are today, we need to carefully understand them to see where the resources are best placed.

"I look at this as an opportunity, and if it wasn't for the new regulations coming for 2008 then I would not have put the entry in."

A radical overhaul of F1's regulations for 2008 means the teams have the option of either building their own car from scratch or running customer chassis. Richards said he was undecided yet about which way to go.

"As you rightly perceive, there are several options open to teams," explained Richards. "I think it is better to wait for the next couple of months and see what surprises there are before we nail our flag to the mast.

"At the moment we have to consider the things with the longest lead times. We are not going to rush out there and start hiring people - that would be inappropriate."

Although Richards has held talks with Cosworth about an engine supply deal for 2008, and is due for a further meeting with the engine-builder's owner Kevin Kalkhoven next week, he has not ruled out the possibility of manufacturer backing.

"Clearly there will be a Prodrive team, just as there is a McLaren and a Williams team, and those teams have often had close relationships with manufacturers. That would be my desired route.

"We have had approaches from two or three manufacturers over the last 18 months saying that if we got an entry would we then like to go and speak to them. So let's see if they are still standing there now."

Prodrive had emerged as the clear favourites for the 12th entry almost as soon as they went public with their application, but Richards makes it clear he never thought they would automatically get in.

"We had looked at the whole thing quite practically. We did a lot of homework and clearly I would have been disappointed if it had not been us, but on the other hand we had no god given right to it. So we are obviously very pleased.

"I had a meeting with the staff yesterday to inform them, and we are looking forward to it - although with a bit of apprehension.

"The easy bit was getting the entry. It is going to be more difficult rolling the sleeves up and delivering on the great challenge ahead."
 
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Marlboro to fund Ferrari dream team

Ferrari title sponsor Marlboro has said it is willing to bankroll the $70 million pay packet of Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari next season, according to a report in this week's Autosport.

As speculation continues to link Kimi Raikkonen with a move to the team for 2007, the potential stumbling block of the team's wage-bill if Schumacher also decided to stay appears to have been removed thanks to the involvement of Marlboro.

Autosport reports that Marlboro's parent company Phillip Morris believes that the promotional benefits of a Schumacher-Raikkonen partnership at Ferrari is worth paying for - even if it means that it has to foot the wage-bill.

The company is planning to be Ferrari's title sponsor until the end of 2011 and sources have suggested that it will invest huge sums of money in their F1 involvement to make the most of the opportunity - with tobacco advertising restrictions hampering its marketing capabilities in other fields.

One source told Autosport: "If the only place in the world you could advertise your product was a single billboard in Piccadilly Circus, you'd be prepared to spend quite a bit to make sure you got it, wouldn't you."
 
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BRDC board wins vote of confidence

A planned rebellion against the board of the British Racing Drivers' Club has failed after an unofficial vote at an Extraordinary General Meeting on Friday morning gave the board full confidence, leaving the way open for a straightforward decision on circuit redevelopment this afternoon.

A group of rebels, led by former British F3 champion Harry Stiller, had been pushing to get support for a vote of no-confidence in the board over their plans to enlist developers St. Modwen to revamp the Northamptonshire track.

Had the rebels' plans been successful, then it would have turned this afternoon's Annual General Meeting into a chaotic affair because a new board would need to have been sworn in almost immediately.

At the EGM this morning, however, a hand count indicated that there was very little support for the no-confidence vote. And, although the matter was then put to an official vote, which has not yet been counted, sources indicate that the rebels' plan has failed.

This means that this afternoon's AGM can now go ahead unimpeded, with a straightforward vote over the redevelopment plans, as well as whether former world champion Damon Hill should take over as president of the club.

Leading figures from British motor racing showed up for the BRDC vote, including John Surtees, David Richards and Frank Williams.
 
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Lapworth leads Prodrive's technical plans

Prodrive have confirmed for the first time that David Lapworth, the former performance director of their rally programme with Subaru, is heavily involved in their Formula One plans.

Lapworth left the Subaru World Rally Team in February on the back of their disappointing start to the campaign. He was said to have moved to an unspecified special project within the Prodrive operation, with autosport.com revealing last month that he was assisting the company's F1 plans.

Following the announcement of Prodrive's entry for 2008 this morning, team boss David Richards has confirmed that Lapworth is currently heading up the technical organisation of the team at this preliminary stage.

"We have a core team put together inside the company," said Richards in an interview with autosport.com. "They have been in existence for three months. We have met on a regular basis, and we will now meet on an even more regular basis, to discuss our position and strategy side.

"On the technical side, David Lapworth is heading that up, and he has been representing us on the Technical Working Group. We have other people already working for us on the marketing and commercial side."

Richards has admitted that his plans for a Prodrive team have long been on the cards and are not a sudden reaction to the low-cost regulations planned for 2008.

"I think I first thought about it the day I walked out on Honda," said Richards, referring to his exit from BAR at the end of 2004. "It was very much on the cards from that moment on.

"We didn't know how we were going to go about it, but the circumstance now and the change of regulations for 2008 were manna from heaven."
 
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FIA 'unlikely' to increase team numbers

FIA president Max Mosley is sceptical that the Formula One grid could grow beyond 12 teams despite there being 22 entry applications for the 2008 Formula One World Championship.

The FIA has released the 2008 entry list this morning, confirming that Prodrive will join the existing 11 F1 teams on the grid. This has left teams such as Direxiv and Carlin Motorsport out.

The Japanese company was particularly disappointed and said it will continue to pursue entry for the 2007 season.

And suggestions have been made recently that the FIA could increase the grid to more than 12 teams, with possibly pre-qualifying introduced again to Formula One, to determine the 24 cars that start a Grand Prix.

But Mosley said today that logistics and safety will prevent an increase of the number of teams and said such an expansion remains "unlikely".

"The limit of 12 teams was imposed for safety reasons, and circuit facilities, pit garages, etc, are designed for this number," Mosley said.

"It would be very difficult to enlarge the facilities and we would also have to look very carefully at the safety issue.

"The number is unlikely to increase."

Mosley said, however, that those teams rejected could still find their way into Formula One.

"We informed all the teams that were not successful," the FIA president added. "We asked them to keep in touch in case a vacancy occurred."
 
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