Formula 1 teams have made a major breakthrough to help reduce costs in the sport over the next few years after rubber-stamping a new Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA) at the Singapore Grand Prix.
Teams had headed to Singapore fearing that the current RRA, which ran from last year until the end of next season, was on the brink of falling apart, amid suspicion that some squads had found clever ways of getting around the agreed cost restraints.
High-level sources suggested that if the suspicions could not be alleviated, and teams were unwilling to agree on interpretations on how their costs should be calculated, then there was a possibility the deal could fall apart completely and F1 would face another all-out spending war. However, in a lengthy meeting in the Singapore paddock on Sunday, the Formula One Teams' Association made big progress in overcoming the difficulties and a provisional agreement was reached for a lengthy extension that will now run until the end of 2017.
Although the exact details of the extent of the new cost restrictions have not been released, it is understood that there is an easing of the aggression of the cost cuts after some teams felt the cost cuts were getting too restrictive. When asked by AUTOSPORT how the RRA discussions had gone, FOTA chairman Martin Whitmarsh said: "We made fantastic progress, actually. I think the teams have worked together and found great compromise and, during the course of the meeting, we signed an extension that puts seven years on the Resource Restriction Agreement, which further stabilizes the sport."
Renault team principal Eric Boullier said: "I am very delighted that we have done such a move, because it is a success for FOTA and finally we could sign something, instead of the meetings just being a forum.
"The decision taken last year [with the original RRA] was maybe in a special context with manufacturers threatening to break away for another championship. The RRA in its old version could even have damaged the sport by being too radical and I was keen to change the slope and extending it – and why not? We know we have to enter into a transition period. Everyone has done a reasonable job and I am happy we have signed this agreement."
Amid the background of suspicions in the build-up to the Singapore weekend that teams were getting around the RRA, Whitmarsh believes the new framework had also helped clear up potential loopholes.
"We signed an agreement which has gone a long way to improving it, extending the RRA, making further reductions and closing the known loopholes. And there is an obligation within the agreement that if anyone knows of a loophole, or subsequently learn of them, that they declare it now or do something about it," he explained. "I think it was a good step forward in terms of trying to manage the resources in F1 and trying to create stability, and an improvement on that approach.
"It took compromise from all of the F1 teams to achieve that and I think a week ago not many people would have predicted that we would have been able to achieve that. So, all credit to the F1 teams for being very sensible, cooperative and working with a spirit that was so important to get such an agreement in place."