Sports

Ferrari F1 team plans to
accelerate cost-cutting

Formula One team Ferrari is planning to accelerate its cost-cutting plans for 2009 in the wake of Honda's pullout from the sport.

"This process had already begun over the last few years. But now it's going to have a sharp acceleration," team director Stefano Domenicali said in an interview with Corriere della Sera on Monday without providing further financial details.

Still, Domenicali warned that cuts in F1 spending shouldn't reach the point where it wouldn't allow healthy engineering competition. Ferrari announced in October that it too would leave F1 if the sport's governing body goes ahead with plans to have a sole engine and transmission supplier beginning in 2010.

"We're at the forefront in the process of auto racing renewal, which has to remain a technological and sporting competition," Domenicali said. "Ferrari will continue to be a leader. The fans should stay calm."

Honda quit F1 on Friday, saying that in the current economic downturn it needs to focus on its core business of making and selling cars rather than spending $291 million a year to race them on Grand Prix tracks.

In three seasons, and with such massive investment, Honda managed just one race victory.

Ferrari - the oldest team in F1 - has won more than 200 races.

Domenicali called Honda's decision "a lightning strike in a clear sky."

"It's a big crisis and you can understand the reasons that would force an automaker, faced with thousands of job firings, to engage in such drastic cost-cutting," he said.

"F1 has already weathered some very tough times. It's key to react lucidly and avoid mistakes in strategy that you could pay a costly price for when things improve."

Ferrari won the constructor's title this season, but Felipe Massa lost the driver's championship to McLaren's Lewis Hamilton in the final race.

Ferrari does not feel a complete loser, though.

"A success is complete only when you win both titles," Domenicali said.

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