F1 Strategy Group meets at Biggin Hill

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Formula 1's bosses and top teams are meeting at Biggin Hill this morning to address the sport's current state of affairs.

FOM's logistic headquarters will host the representatives of six teams - Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Williams and Force India - as well FIA President Jean Todt and commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone. Past Strategy Group meetings have rarely enjoyed unanimity, let alone consequential decisions, and today's session, while highly anticipated given the challenges and issues of the day, may once again fall short of expectations.

“I think we will spend probably four or five hours in that meeting,” Ecclestone told Reuters. “In the end we'll probably decide the date of the next meeting. The problem with us at the moment is we're a democracy. It's no good."

With soaring costs, several teams on the brink of collapse, a dwindling overall TV audience and disinterest from the younger fan base, Formula 1 is in urgent need of a revamp, both technical and financial. Ferrari recently called for a revolution from 2017, suggesting bigger, louder and more affordable engines and more entertaining cars.

Today's agenda will include, amongst other things, a vote on whether to increase the engine allocation for this season from four to five engines per driver, a decision which Mercedes' customers oppose on grounds of cost, to which one may add a reluctance to help Red Bull-powered rivals in the battle for the Constructors championship. A ban on windtunnels is also on the table for discussion, as well as a switch to 1000 bhp engines and larger rear tyres for improved mechanical grip in the event of an increase in power.

Discussions centered around F1's financial structure, with a call by the smaller teams for a revised payment structure and a more equitable share of the sport's revenues, are sure to be another major source of contention.

The Biggin Hill meeting will  include as an observer the presence of Donald Mackenzie, the powerful boss of CVC, the controlling shareholder of F1. The normally low-profile Mackenzie has stepped up his presence in the Grand Prix paddock recently, showing his concern and worry for one of CVC's most valuable assets.

Speaking in Spain last weekend, FIA President Jean Todt admits that Formula 1 has its work cut out for it, but hopes discussions will at the very least be constructive and useful.

“We know there are some things to assess. And I hope we will be able to have a good agenda and come with good proposals and decisions to submit to the F1 commission and then to the world council. we will have all the different stakeholders around the table and it will be a proper opportunity to speak about everything. A lot of work has been done, we have been doing some working groups, an enquiry with an external consultant, with the technical and sporting people, so I think we will have a quite clear situation to discuss about.”

In February, Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said a meeting of the Strategy Group would "decide the future" of F1, but little was achieved other than a move to block Manor from using its 2014 car this season.

Any changes suggested following the meeting would have to be approved by the F1 Commission.

Click here for Wednesday's gallery from testing at the Circuit de Catalunya

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