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F1 teams seek deal tospice up race

FORMULA One could soon have a new commercial deal to make races more entertaining, team bosses said yesterday after winning their first battle over the immediate future of the sport.

The Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) had threatened a breakaway series in a long-running row with International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Max Mosley over a budget cap, but an agreement on Wednesday ended the crisis. A new deal has yet to be signed with commercial rights holder CVC, represented by Bernie Ecclestone, but an agreement is close with Renault boss Flavio Briatore in charge of spicing up the already glamorous sport.

"Flavio will be busy working with the commercial rights holder to improve the show of the sport, we hope we can find agreement with CVC in the coming days," Ferrari president and FOTA head Luca di Montezemolo said.

The teams feel empowered after largely achieving their aims on Wednesday in Paris, where the budget cap was dropped and Mosley said he would retire in October.

This year's rules will remain in place next season but costs will still be cut to the level of the 1990s.

FOTA members think the fresh start and ideas they came up with when pondering a breakaway can bring fans closer to the sport.

Teams have criticized the lack of supporters at new tracks like Istanbul and believe fans are best served by traditionally exciting races at the likes of Spa in Belgium.

"What we want is a Formula One and in the end we achieved that. We want to work for a better show, better entertainment," Briatore said after a FOTA meeting which was originally called to plan the breakaway series.

"Even if the likes of Turkey are paying more money, we would rather have stadia that are full," Briatore said.

"It is better for the spirit of the sport. We want stands full of fans. There is no point spending all that money on an empty cathedral. We need to talk about sport again. After many years of president Max Mosley, we want to wish him a good retirement," he added pointedly.

Ignored suggestions

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh said the FIA had largely ignored team suggestions for changes following a fans' survey and he hoped that now they could push their ideas through.

"There is no singular point. It's listening to what the audience wants and making sure we respond to it," he said.

Despite the fledgling FOTA group showing its combined muscle in negotiations, the teams want to leave Mosley's replacement up to the FIA.

"The federation is an independent body with its own constitution it's their business who they appoint as president. From the teams' point of view we'd like someone independent... independent of any of the teams," Toyota's John Howett said.


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