Formula 1’s cost cutting and money saving lobby are about to shift into a higher gear in June and beyond, with smaller teams coming up against the grandees in an effort to keep the sport affordable.
Ever since the powerful ‘Strategy Group’ teams nixed plans for a mandatory budget cap, the tension with the angry and disenfranchised small teams has virtually been palpable.
FIA president Jean Todt wants to lock in some cost-saving regulations for 2015, but the final deadline is the end of June 2014. A few days before that, just three weeks from now, the World Motor Sport Council would have to rubber-stamp any proposals. So far, little progress has been made.
“I would think so far that we’ve probably saved about 10,000 euros, but we’re going in the right direction,” said Christian Horner, boss of the big-spending reigning world champions Red Bull.
For the big teams in particular, the risk of failing to appease their struggling rivals by the June deadline is that the FIA will then be free to introduce whatever rules it likes in 2016.
Curiously, Horner suggested that is exactly what should happen, “I think the promoter and the regulator need to get together and say ‘this is what Formula 1 is going to be’, and then the teams have the choice of whether they enter the championship or not,” he said.
But Monisha Kaltenborn, boss of the two-decade-old team Sauber that last year almost collapsed, and are still in somewhat dire straits, hints that many in the second half of the grid cannot wait that long.
“It’s not about us wanting to be equal, and not even an attempt to improve our competitive position,” she insisted to Auto Motor und Sport.
“It’s about not letting Formula 1 drift into an untenable financial dimension, so that the smaller teams are constantly wondering if they are still racing from one month to the next.”
Kaltenborn is a staunch supporter of a budget cap, even if it begins with a high ceiling of €200 million next year, and is then steadily tightened.
“Formula 1 has this image of a money-consuming machine,” she said. “It puts sponsors off and in 2009 it drove the car manufacturers away – because losing was too expensive.
“If a prestigious team like McLaren are still looking for a main sponsor, there must be something wrong.” (GMM)