Budget Caps

“We have a whole list of objectives and one of them is to enable small teams to stand on their own two feet,” –  Ross Brawn

It might be too little, too late for Manor and a whole host of other small teams, but there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel. If the people in charge of F1 are finally willing to admit that the world economic position has changed in the last decade , then we might be able to support the plucky underdog again.

What can a budget cap do?  Well in general it will limit the amount of money a company can spend on running their team. There are already some caps in place, in particular track testing and wind-tunnel testing. Both of these have worked to reduce the spend in these areas, but have they increased the amount of money needed to be spent on computational fluid dynamics systems instead.

There’s support in the paddock -When Max Mosley tried to introduce a similar system called the Resource Restriction Agreement, it was against the will of the teams. It ultimately failed due to a spread of factors, but the heart of the message was there. If F1 became cheaper to compete in, then it could be a sustainable business model. McLaren agree with the current plan and when a heritage member of the grid weighs in, you know it’s a good idea.

New Sponsorship Models – In the good old days of say Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, Ron could ask £150 million to be a title sponsor. Today this would not even be a possibility. The model has changed and the money is significantly different. Taking McLaren again as an example, Ron promised to have a new headline sponsor last year after Vodafone left. They still haven’t materialised and Ron has left.

So it’s definitely needed. Everyone seems to agree and not a single team have spoken out against it. As a fan, it might bring closer racing, but it also might just fill up the grid again with a raft of commercially viable teams. You never know, we might have to bring back pre-qualifying.

How could it be enforced? This would be difficult. We think it would largely rely on honesty from the teams and some open book keeping. Is there anything to stop a team owner, who happens to own another business, developing a new gear box, spending millions creating it, then selling it to a team for pennies. We don’t know. BUT…

The wind tunnel testing and track testing are both managed on an honesty policy. Yes books could be cooked, but as we were told by a team member when we asked a few years ago, ‘too many people change teams’. If your wind tunnel is on too long, everyone in the factory knows, then all it takes is for one of your engineers to move to another team and they let it become knowledge that their old team were breaking the rules.

It might be a simple system, but self management appears to have worked on these issues. Remember when Mercedes did a test for Pirelli and didn’t tell anyone. We all found out anyway. Nothing really stays a secret in F1.

Could it work? All the sounds coming out from the teams and the new owners sound really encouraging and if the budget cap was used in hand with reduced costs, ie Engine prices, sensors becoming standardised, etc, then we hope and believe it could.

It’s about time that F1 became about sporting teams again and not just those who can afford to turn up.

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