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F1 ups voluntary budget cap

FORMULA One's governing body raised a voluntary budget cap to 40 million pounds (US$59 million) yesterday, banned refueling during races and opened the starting grid to an additional three teams from 2010.

The World Motor Sport Council said the teams that sign up for the cost-cutting cap will be given more technical freedom, including movable wings, engines without a rev limit and unlimited out-of-season testing. There will also be no restrictions on wind tunnel testing.

F1 currently has 10 teams with two cars each, but that will be increased to 13 teams and 26 cars in 2010. The WMSC is banning refueling during races to save money on transporting refueling equipment.

"Formula One faces a period of great uncertainty during this harsh recessionary period," the WMSC said in a statement. "Funding a team is increasingly seen as a discretionary spend for the majority of team owners and sponsors. To ensure a healthy grid all are agreed that costs need to be cut."

FIA president Max Mosley said he hoped budget caps would be welcomed by F1 teams who were previously skeptical about cost-cutting plans. FIA had proposed a budget limit of 30 million pounds from 2010, but F1 team bosses cautioned against it, saying costs reductions should be gradual.

The Formula One Teams Association is due to discuss the decisions in London on Wednesday.

The global financial crisis has hit the sport hard, with Honda announcing it was leaving F1 in December. In January, the teams unanimously agreed to a series of cost-cutting measures, including limits on expensive testing and a cheaper engine for smaller teams starting in 2010. FOTA agreed to those proposals.

Minimum weight

Meanwhile, FIA has moved to prevent the sport becoming a 'jockeys' championship' by increasing the minimum weight of cars by 15kg from next year.

Taller drivers such as BMW-Sauber's Robert Kubica have been at a disadvantage this season because of the introduction of the new KERS system that provides a power boost at the push of a button.

The energy recovery systems weigh between 25 and 30kg with the minimum weight of the car plus driver currently set at 605kg, leaving the bigger men with less ballast to move around in setting up the car.

Kubica has raced only once with KERS this season while smaller and lighter teammate Nick Heidfeld has had it on his car since the Australian opener. The 2010 technical regulations raised the minimum car-plus-driver weight to 620kg.

BMW-Sauber boss Mario Theissen warned last month that F1 risked becoming a 'jockeys' championship' for small drivers only and called for the weight limit to be raised to compensate for KERS.


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