Red Bull team principal Christian Horner fears Formula 1 will “end up with compromises and vanilla-type regulations” if leading officials don’t fully align in defining new rules for 2021, while his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff is calling for these to be finalised ASAP.
In the build-up to the Austrian Grand Prix, Horner called for the FIA governing body and commercial promoters Liberty Media to give “real clarity going forward as to what the sport is going to be, what the regulations are going to be that both parties ultimately have to buy into.”
Liberty took control of F1 last year, ending Bernie Ecclestone’s four-decade reign. Earlier this season, the U.S-based investors proposed new plans for engines, revenue, governance, regulations and cost-cutting. The changes should take effect in 2021.
Mercedes and Ferrari have expressed concern, with the latter team threatening to quit the sport because it is unhappy with Liberty’s proposal to simplify engines and redistribute prize money among teams after the current contract expires at the end of 2020.
“Liberty have paid $8 billion for this sport. They’ve got to turn it into something that’s even more attractive. That’s fantastic racing, obviously there are cost issues, there are revenue issues that need dealing with,” Horner said, adding the FIA’s “got to be fully aligned with that.”
F1 wants cheaper, louder, more powerful engines and wants them more reliable to reduce the amount of grid penalties. The new power units must also be accessible to new teams.
“What concerns us is discussions of where things are going with engines, where things are going with chassis regulations,” Horner said. “Everything seems to be getting watered down somewhat from what the initial concept is.”
While Horner praised the leadership for improving fan engagement through digital content and social media, he called the discussions about the future “Liberty’s biggest challenge.”
Mercedes head of motorsport, Toto Wolff, agreed with Horner’s call for more transparency, “We are all having the challenge of seeking additional income, and that has been equally difficult for Liberty.”
“We can all understand there is a financial reality that needs to be respected. The top teams are spending too much and we need to get that under control.”
Team bosses will be involved in a strategy group meeting on Wednesday, and Wolff said he hoped for “a little bit more understanding and input” on future plans.
“We need to know what’s happening in 2021. What the regs look like on the power unit side and on the chassis side in order to get things moving and avoid a cost escalation, a cost rush last-minute. That is important,” added the Mercedes team chief.