sport

Fernley unsure over tweaks

Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley has cast doubt on plans to curtail the grand prix weekend programme.

In a bid to cut costs, a proposal is currently on the table that would result in one of Friday's 90-minute practice sessions being axed.

The thinking behind the move is money is not only saved on the track with less running, but it would also allow teams to arrive a day later at venues and so curb travel expenditure.

The idea has been put forward by the six-strong Strategy Group that effectively now has a commanding influence on F1's future direction, comprising Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull, Williams and Lotus.

Effectively working as an outsider looking in, the likes of Force India have little say on such proposals, with this latest one to go before the F1 Commission this month where it will be debated.

If voted in, and only a 51 per cent majority is required, it will then be passed on to the World Motor Sport Council to rubber-stamp.

Offering an objective viewpoint, Fernley told Press Association Sport: "We need to look at the totality of it.

"Whilst it's a conceptual idea it has not been defined yet as there are a few elements in that definition that could work negatively.

"One element is that for some of the teams on the grid it could cost them money because they would lose the opportunity to use their third driver (who often pays for his seat).

"And then there's how do you deal with updates (for the cars) and the process that goes with that, which may or may not be beneficial?

"So we need to look at what they (the Strategy Group) are proposing. We've probably as much information as you (the media) have."

Other potential negatives include the television companies, who pay a fortune to screen F1, would be getting less value for money without a 90-minute practice session.

The race promoters could also potentially suffer financially for even though practice are often poorly attended, it still puts a few bums on seats, but even those figures could be reduced.

"Like everything else, the devil is in the detail," added Fernley.

"If you miss out FP1, what are you going to give the promoters and the TV companies that would allow them to be able to optimise their programs?

"I'm sure you could do things without actually running the cars, but what are those things you want to do?

"Unfortunately from our perspective, it will come to us as a proposal and we will be told at the F1 Commission hearing to vote yes or no."