Formula One bosses want change
Formula One chiefs Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone have drawn up a radical action plan , including potentially handicapping Ferrari, to ensure the sport's survival.
The Times newspaper has reported that Formula One teams would receive secret dossiers on Monday morning outlining the most far-reaching reform package in more than half a century of grand prix racing.
"We are at a crossroads, there is no doubt about that," International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Mosley told The Times.
"We have to improve the show and reduce the costs if teams and, eventually, the sport are going to survive as we know it now. There is widespread agreement that we need to do something."
The proposals include handicapping by adding a kilogram of weight to a car for every point once a driver had passed a set number of points ahead of the rest of the field.
Each kilogram would slow a car down by around three-hundredths of a second.
Formula One sources said the report was fundamentally correct although the FIA said it would be inappropriate to comment on the contents of the dossier.
The weight suggestion drew immediate approval from team boss Eddie Jordan. "I think it is an excellent, proven, guaranteed way of levelling out the field," he told BBC radio.
"One of the reasons that Bernie Ecclestone has headlined the weight penalty is that it is very easy to put in place and manage and have regulations controlling it. The teams would never agree to it en masse and so he has to be quite tough and draconian and put in something that he firmly believes will put F1 back to the footing it had."
Ferrari's Schumacher, now a five times champion, won this year's title in record time with six races to spare and has a points lead of 63 points going into the final round of the season in Japan this weekend.
Qualifying would in future be spread over two days with half-hour sessions on the Friday and Saturday instead of one hour on the Saturday.
Aerodynamics would be set at the start of the season for up to eight races, with one change then allowed to last until the end of the year.
Testing would be cut back to save costs and teams may be limited to one engine per eight races, encouraging reliability and also saving money to help struggling smaller teams.
Mosley, who has been pushing for reform for some time to bring costs down and make the sport more lively at a time when Ferrari have been utterly dominant, said Formula One had to make key decisions.
"There is no doubt that handicapping runs counter to the traditions of Formula One but sometimes you find yourself in a position where you can keep your traditions but no-one cares because they are not watching," he told The Times.
"That is when you have to weigh tradition against change and what it can bring you and the sport."
The paper said Mosley and Ecclestone, who controls the commercial side of the sport, were "prepared for a dogfight" when the package was discussed with teams at a meeting of the FIA's Formula One commission on October 28.
But, with global television viewing figures falling as Ferrari and Schumacher keep on winning, they will warn the teams they have little choice.
"We have radical ideas to make the spectacle more exciting and save costs on a massive scale," said Mosley.
"The problem is that costs have gone up while income has gone down and now television companies will want to pay less because audiences are falling. We need to put that right before any more teams go out of business. It is that urgent and that important."
The last four races have been run with just 10 teams as Arrows struggle to survive. The French Prost team went out of business before the start of the season.
Ferrari have won 14 of this year's 16 races.