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F1 must tackle costs urgently, says Montezemolo

Formula One must take urgent action to address costs in the light of global economic problems and the euro zone debt crisis, Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo said on Tuesday.

Spain's Banco Santander, the euro zone's largest bank whose long-term credit rating was downgraded on Monday by Fitch Ratings, are one of the FIAT-owned team's most prominent sponsors.

Euro zone finance ministers agreed at the weekend to lend Spain up to 100 billion euros to shore up teetering banks hit by bad loans after a real estate boom turned to bust, although Santander has said it will not need any of it.

"The world economic situation and that of Europe in particular, is very serious and the world of Formula One cannot ignore the fact," Montezemolo said on the Ferrari website (www.ferrari.com).

"We cannot lose any more time: we need to tackle urgently and with determination the question of costs.

"Ferrari is in agreement with the (governing) FIA's position that drastic intervention is required. We are absolutely convinced that, as I have always said, the teams and the commercial rights holder must work together with the Federation on this front," added the Italian.

"This is no longer the moment for getting bogged down in sterile discussions or the meanderings of engineers, usually only concerned in defending the interests of someone or other: the question has to be tackled at the highest level, without further delay."

Formula One teams, commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone and the International Automobile Federation are in the final stages of concluding a new 'Concorde Agreement' governing the sport.

The existing agreement expires at the end of the year but Ecclestone told CNN last month that most of the 12 teams had agreed they would sign an extension until 2020.

BUDGET CAP

Ferrari, the only team to have been in the championship since the first season in 1950 and also the most successful, get a special premium in recognition of their importance to the sport on top of their share of the revenues.

They are also the biggest team based in the euro zone, with most of the others having factories in Britain. Sauber are Swiss-based, Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso in Italy and tail-enders HRT have their headquarters in Madrid.

The FIA met teams after last month's Monaco Grand Prix with mounting concern about how expensive regulations for 2014, when a new V6 1.6 liter turbo engine is due to be introduced, will prove.

Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault provide 10 of the 12 teams with engines, with the other two using Cosworth units.

Formula One has had a so-called Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA) in place in recent years but the once-united team body FOTA has been weakened by the departures of Ferrari and Red Bull over disagreements about spending.

Talks on a new RRA, and the possibility of the FIA policing some sort of a budget cap, have intensified with reports suggesting the end of June marks a cutoff point at which teams can agree measures by a majority vote.

After June 30, any change affecting next year must be unanimous, which is likely to be much harder to achieve.

Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn suggested in April that a budget cap should be introduced for next year.

"I think that we should have the next step already in place for next season and take it from there. Next season for me should already see a major step forward in the financial feasibility of a team," she told the formula1.com website.

"When the current Concorde Agreement comes to an end at the end of this season, I think it would be a good time to set some kind of rules."

(Editing by Alison Wildey)