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Oct 04th
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Teams search for agreement on ban offer

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F1's teams will meet at Silverstone on Sunday in an effort to come to an agreement over the FIA's offer to rip up the planned ban on off-throttle engine mapping, with reports suggesting '10 of 12' teams want the ban dropped.

The meeting will be the latest development in Formula One's most recent technical dispute, based around the new practice of using engine mapping to help blow exhaust gases through their blown diffusers even when the driver is off the throttle.

The FIA originally planned to limit every team to systems which produced up to of 10% of the gases emitted when the driver was at maximum throttle.

But this seemingly simple rule soon came up for dispute, when it was revealed that both the Mercedes and Renault engine makers had requested concessions to be made on the grounds of reliability.

Although Mercedes had their request granted, Renault's own was denied on Saturday morning, leading to a feisty reaction from Red Bull, the championship-leading team which uses the Renault engine.

This led to the FIA calling a meeting of the Technical Working Group, and after qualifying at Silverstone the FIA confirmed that they were offering to scrap the ban if the teams could find "unanimous agreement" on the matter.

The new plan would see the off-throttle mapping rules return to the position they were at during the last race in Valencia, where teams were allowed unrestricted use during the race, but were not allowed to run special 'qualifying-spec' mapping software.

Now the twelve teams will meet on Sunday to discuss this proposal, with most of the frontrunning teams, surprisingly including Ferrari even though they appear to have gained from the ban, in favour of the FIA's new proposal.

According to a report from the BBC Sport website, the two teams still "to be convinced" by the proposal are Williams and Sauber.

Speaking about the issue, Mercedes GP team boss Ross Brawn admitted that he still wasn't sure if a unanimous agreement could be found on the issue.

"The [TWG] meeting this morning was held in constructive fashion bit there were differences of opinion and different teams went away to consider their positions," he explained to the media on Saturday evening.

"I hope we will find a solution but I really don't know where we will be tomorrow."

Brawn also lamented that: "If we go back to [the Valencia specification], we will still have some teams that are unhappy with that situation. It's a question of whether they can recognise that it's not easy to find a solution.

"Whichever way we go, someone will feel aggrieved about the solutions that take place.

"Most people now recognise that it might have been best left to the end of the year and then move the exhausts to a new position next season where they will be more benign and we could have avoided these difficulties."

Meanwhile, speaking to Autosport, Williams technical director Sam Michael said that the Saturday meeting had helped to shed some more light on the reasons for Mercedes and Renault's issues, but said he was unsure of his own team's final decision.

"I think the main thing is that we had a meeting this morning and it became pretty clear that Williams, Ferrari and Sauber were not fully aware of what all the issues were with Mercedes and Renault," he was quoted as saying.

"The first time I heard there was going to be a different throttle position was from a journo at lunchtime yesterday.

"So I think during that meeting, I came out of there with a lot better picture of what their actual problem was, because unless you sit and look at things in detail it's a bit difficult."

Asked if he knew how Williams would vote, he added: "I've heard all the arguments and now I need to sit down with [Williams engine supplier] Cosworth and our guys to see what our position is.

"Really, that's just our view as well, it doesn't mean that's what the FIA will adopt."

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh, meanwhile, conceded after qualifying that his team had been badly hit by the ban, after Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton only managed 5th and 10th on the grid for Sunday's race respectively.

"We've worked particularly hard [on the blown diffuser] and we have had lots of twists and turns and changes," he told the media.

"And the fact is that during the course of this weekend there have been some changes and we did not put on a competitive showing in qualifying and we know that. 

"Do we know precisely why? Not entirely. But I think it is reasonable to assume that in all those changes, we haven't been able to respond to them or the impact on us was greater.

He added: "To go from what looked like a competitive car to what looked like a fairly uncompetitive one, there is no magic. That is what has happened. We understand that and we accept it."

As far as the vote on the possible dropping of the ban was concerned, meanwhile, he warned that there was a risk of "paranoia" setting in if the rules remained as they are.

"Inevitably in F1 self interest sometimes prevails, but I think unless we go back to that, then this season is going to be fraught with paranoia, the feeling of being hard done to, being disadvantaged," he rambled.

"It may be worse for other teams. It has certainly hit this team, it has hit the performance of our car, and I think that is evident from the stop watch - and hopefully from our perspective we get to a situation."

The meeting to discuss the FIA's offer to drop the ban will take place at 10.30am on Sunday morning.