BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) – Formula One is close to a solution that would allow hard-up private teams to secure cheaper engines from the sport’s four manufacturers without the need for an alternative supplier, FIA president Jean Todt said on Friday.
Speaking just hours before the deadline for the manufacturers to come up with proposals, as they agreed to do last November, the Frenchman said he was optimistic after recent meetings.
“They (the manufacturers) are going to make some proposals by tonight,” he told reporters at the annual Autosport International show.
“I have proposals on most of the items which I feel are going in the right direction,” he added, without giving details.
“On Monday afternoon…we have a Strategy Meeting in Geneva and the day after we have the F1 Commission in Geneva, so that’s where we are.
“I think we are very close,” added Todt.
In November, the four manufacturers — Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Honda — agreed to come up with a plan to reduce the cost of power units and ensure no team was left without one.
The move followed the rejection, by the Strategy Group that the manufacturers dominate, of a move to introduce an alternative engine.
The governing International Automobile Federation and commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone had proposed the independent supply after former champions Red Bull struggled to secure an engine for this season.
In the end they managed to patch up frayed relations with Renault and continue with the French manufacturer after Mercedes ruled out a supply, Ferrari offered only an old engine and Honda’s interest was vetoed by partners McLaren.
Todt said he hoped “good sense’ would prevail in the interests of the sport as a whole.
The FIA warned in November that the alternative engine proposal, while on hold, could be revived if the manufacturers failed to come up with an acceptable solution.
Ferrari and Mercedes will supply four teams each this year, Renault two — although the Red Bull one carries the name of luxury watch brand Tag Heuer — and Honda one.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Mark Meadows)