SAO PAULO: All of Formula One's 10 teams except Ferrari have backed radical cost-cutting measures that could keep the threatened British and French Grands Prix on the calendar.
However, the initiative needs the agreement of the world champions to come into force for 2005 and that has yet to be achieved.
This is a major, major step. Don't underestimate the seriousness of the teams involved here to doing something finally to address the problems of Formula One, said Minardi boss Paul Stoddart on Saturday, at the Brazilian Grand Prix here.
The next step obviously is to see if we can get Ferrari to agree to this, see if we can have a British and French Grand Prix and see if we can start saving money.
The nine team bosses signed a statement, a remarkable show of unity in such a quarrelsome sport, saying they had agreed measures to slash costs and put on a better show for spectators that, if implemented, would permit a 19-race calendar next year.
It said Formula One's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone had proposed holding the French and British Grands Prix as the 18th and 19th races respectively.
The attending teams agreed that if the significant cost-saving measures outlined could be instituted by 2005, this would allow the French and British Grands Prix to proceed, said the statement.
Britain and France, traditional races, are in danger of being axed because teams are obliged to take part in no more than 17 grands prix. Both races have been listed provisionally, subject to contract.
Saturday's move effectively turned the heat on Ferrari by attempting to leave the fate of those races in their hands.
Ecclestone would normally have to compensate teams to attend more than 17 races. If he is unwilling to do so, the teams would need to find the money elsewhere to do the additional events at Britain's Silverstone and French track Magny-Cours.
The proposals sought the elimination of most, if not all, tyre testing as well as limiting the amount of testing carried out during the course of a season to 10 days. Reuters