Budget cap is ‘only way for F1 to survive’ – Gascoyne

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In the round-up: Mike Gascoyne says it’s “absolute madness” that some teams are spending ??300m (??360m) on F1.


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Gascoyne sounds warning (Sky Sports)

“It is absolute madness. If you look at the budget a team like us run off, which is ??50m (??60m) and is still a huge amount of money, and then you have teams spending six times that – if you had 20 Caterhams on the grid painted different colours, would you actually notice a difference? I don’t think you would. And in this era, I think a budget cap is the only way for this sport to survive.”

F1 bribery trial ‘will be amusing’ – Ecclestone (The Telegraph)

“I’m prepared to give evidence in court and there will be a few others [who do so] as well. I wish they would bring it forward. It’s going to be amusing.”

Pirelli: 2013 tyres an improvement (Autosport)

“We are changing the structure of the tyres, changing all the four compounds and being more aggressive, and that will possibly create some challenges initially.”

A peek at the ancestry of Ferrari’s new Head of Communications (TheJudge13)

“He was Deputy Commercial manager for the Renault F1 team before moving to Ferrari where his rather broad title of ‘Business Development Manager’ tells us not a lot.”

The engines fire up at Campiglio (Ferrari)

“Today sees the start of ‘Wrooom,’ the Press Ski Meeting organised by Philip Morris International.”



Comment of the day

Kevin Campos (@kcampos12) thinks F1 should explore less expensive ways of making the racing better:

If you want a larger audience, allow the cars to be more enjoyable to watch on TV.

Why not let the cars be more agile? Cut the minimum weight and ask Pirelli to make wider tires. All inexpensive ways to make more interesting racing with little development needed.
Kevin Campos (@kcampos12)

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Ed!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Mario Andretti won the season-opening Argentinian Grand Prix 35 years ago today, still using last season’s Lotus 78.

Reigning championship Niki Lauda was second on his debut for Braham followed by Patrick Depailler’s Tyrrell.

Image © Caterham/LAT

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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89 comments on “Budget cap is ‘only way for F1 to survive’ – Gascoyne”

  1. Well, it seems that a head has to roll every year that Ferrari misses out on the WDC (though this is probably unrelated).

    1. Brazil 2008, Abu Dhabi 2010, Brazil 2012. It’s been tough being a Ferrari fan lately.

      1. Indeed!
        Three near-misses in five years! And the four month painful winter after every heart-break just makes it all the more difficult.

        But when Ferrari do win the drivers’ championship, it will be the sweetest victory ever. The emotion attached to the next Ferrari championship will probably be matched by the 2000 championship win

    2. There’s nothing more annoying than working with under-performing people.

      1. thatscienceguy
        15th January 2013, 10:59

        Yes, I agree the head of PR is ultimately responsible for the team’s poor on track performance this year.

    3. This has nothing to do with it. It would be a bit too much to replace PR man, because of car’s performance.

  2. Interesting comment from Gascoyne about their likely 2013 driver:

    I’m not allowed to [say], but hopefully we will have a young guy in there that will be pushing hard

    Doesn’t bode well for Petrov or Senna. Surely they aren’t thinking of van der Garde?

    1. Well, they already have Pic as the young guy and there’s not much difference of age between the other drivers you mentioned (27, 28, 29 year old), so anybody of those could get the seat as far as I can see.

    2. I believe Caterham are waiting for Force India to announce as this will affect their options. Further a sage F1 voice with many years of team management experience suggested to me this weekend that you don’t see football clubs issuing new contracts to players when a change of manager/owner is in the offing.

      1. Except that Caterham aren’t considering any of the drivers competing for the Force India seats.

        1. @prisoner-monkeys

          How do you know that?

          If Force India picks up Sutil, what’s to stop Caterham from taking on Bianchi? I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt their relationship with Ferrari. And he fits the description.

          1. There’s nothing to stop Caterham taking on Bianchi – except for Ferrari, who would probably want Bianchi in a seat that is capable of scoring points. And since Caterham is known to be talking to Petrov, van der Garde, Razia and Senna, Bianchi would have a tough time getting into the seat if he is only starting talks with them once Force India secure both their drivers.

            Besides, there hs been nothing to suggest that Caterham are talking to Bianchi anwyay.

    3. Good for you Mike, just a pity you won’t pay the guy like you should.

  3. I would notice a difference with 20 caterhams-competition would be closer :P

  4. if you had 20 Caterhams on the grid painted different colours, would you actually notice a difference?


    1. It would be GP2!

    2. Coscoyne, he thinks we’re *****? We are heart-loving fans in F1, not volatile ones. We are deeply concerned, isn’t it?

    3. Well said Matt.

    4. It’s not like we wouldn’t notice the difference in lap times but F1 would still be the pinnacle of motorsport and it wouldn’t lose many fans. Gazillions are now being spent to fine-tune front wing endplates, exhaust angles and other nuances that fans cannot notice. I doubt if F1 would lose its appeal and glamour if teams hadn’t the money to focus on these details anymore.

      1. It depends what he means- whether he means 20 cars 1 second or so slower than at the moment having used a similarly small budget to Caterham, or 20 cars either far more similar to one another or identical. I don’t mind the first one so much, but anything that cuts down innovation and variation is a huge negative for me.

      2. You can’t have 20 Caterham cars on the grid and still call Formula 1 the pinnacle of motorsport. Unless you manage to make the world forget what the older, much faster and more advanced cars can do. It’s that simple.

        Less money doesn’t instantly mean you can’t build a fast car either, look at what Brawn achieved. While caps are necessary, to argue in favour of them by saying we wouldn’t notice anyway if every car was slow, isn’t a great idea.

        1. “Look at what Brawn achieved” yes indeed keeping to a budget cap is easy, just so long as you can buy a team with the 2 fastest cars included for $1.00.

          1. Really, Honda had the two fastest cars in 2008? Funny how the world didn’t notice.

        2. The way I remember it, you don’t make a new car in Melbourne garages, but in your factory, working on it whole year before it even turns a wheel in Melbourne.

          Honda poured so much money in 2009 car that they were making three or four concepts simultaneously, and just pick one that turned out the best in the end.

    5. Gascoyne has a good point and if F1 continues in its current direction this is where F1 will end up!
      This is why F1 has to allow teams to develop technologies that are relevant to industry, that is make all that money spent on R&D worth something outside of F1. Caterham might be less concerned about the amount of money they were spending if they were spending it on an engine designing and building division that could design and produce a powerful, lightweight, reliable and economical engine for the “7” and other new products.

  5. Nick Jarvis (@)
    15th January 2013, 1:09

    I’d almost prefer it if the cars were less stable, and less predictable like my team, Caterham’s cars, plus, i’d love to see 20 Caterhams in different colours, the shape is incredible, especially the front end. I don’t feel the sport is any where near at risk of collapse due to the financial crisis, despite the loss of HRT, the worst is over now anyway. probably.

  6. Thanks for the birthday wishes, Keith!

  7. This cost reducing talk is getting so boring. The technical side of the sport seems to have jumped the ship to play along with political circus in search of easy solutions.

    Nothing new will come out if you create boundaries and restrictions, I wish sport went limitless and possibly collapsed. This would open eyes and ways for new thinking and understanding. And them we would really see what that spot the back of the Red Bull’s wing really cost.

    In a way, this artificial even field approach is hurting lower teams, because in order to be on a sharp end you now have to spend more money, but you still not there if you spend less, but it sure does feels good to be only just off the pace. This is why sponsors would pay $50 million to a middle field team. Overpriced sense of competition is being sold and it creates false demand.

    In no scenario a company would pump in so much money into the sport where one team dominating everything, nor the team that is doing all the dominating would be receiving as much money, cause lack of competition would diminish their achievements.

    Sorry for mind speak.

    1. Maybe – but surely you agree that costs are far too high. Spending three hundred million pounds per year just to be competitive isn’t just extravagant, it’s insane.

      1. Yes, I agree. But I don’t think the current approach is doing it any good. Basically teams are channelled/forced into current paths of development. They are close to forced to spend 10mil on that upgrade of front wing that is a barely improvement.

        It is VERY expensive with current regulations to gain any advantage by doing something different because it’s already too expensive to just try to catch up with ideas that seem to be “faster”.

        1. Then what would you propose as an alternative?

      2. @prisoner-monkeys, It is insane under the current regulations, but if that money was being spent on something of value outside of F1 like more efficient, lighter, stronger, engines and geartrains instead of carbonfibre widgets designed to produce an extra kilo of downforce it would be justifiable.

    2. F1 has always been about getting around the rules and finding loopholes, that is not the part to be worried about. I believe. Having said that, they really need to think about what F1 is, it definetly isn’t innovation any more.

      As for the budget caps, Gascoyne can go to …
      I am with Montezemolo on this one. Cut the ban on thesting and the budget caps. If you dont have mone for F1, make a GP2 team. F1 needs constructors and teams that can afford to be there, not some HRT-like teams that come, fail and then just ask for money and rules that suit them.
      F1 is the top Motorsport and it needs teams that can deal with the pressures this puts on them. Both financial and technical.

      1. @kuusk

        F1 needs constructors and teams that can afford to be there, not some HRT-like teams that come, fail and then just ask for money and rules that suit them.

        You mean teams like Honda, BMW and Toyota?

        1. Pretty much.
          The current bottom-runners are just to weak. Without them F1 could afford to start in-seasion testing again.
          The way i see it F1 without testing is dangerous and stagnant.

  8. Loved the 1978 Argentinian GP highlights, particularly the interviews after the race.

  9. If I intended to spend 300mln would 50mln budget cap stop me?

    1. @crr917 – Probably. There’s no way a budget cap would be introduced without some way of policing it. That’s what all the fuss to date has been; Red Bull are refusing to support any regulations that would force them to open up their books to the FIA.

      And while some teams might try and fudge the numbers a bit and spend $60 million instead of $50 million, it would be immediately apparent if someone tried to spend $300 million instead of $50 million.

      1. @prisoner-monkeys I don’t think so. A separate entity with 250mln budget will be created. It will evaluate different development paths so the F1 team always makes the best of the limited budget it gets. In the worst case scenario FIA will put a list of approved suppliers but it will do nothing to stop me since the outside entity will be an advisor at most, or not officially related at all. Everydoby will know but what can they do? Ban me for alleged contacts with a workshop researching vehicle aerodynamics and electric drive? Every car manufacturer is doing it – should they get banned too? :)

        1. Everydoby will know but what can they do?

          Do you hoenstly think that the FIA has simply charged in without having thought of this? If a team tries to create a separate organisation to carry out all of their development, it will show in their books. You can’t hide a paper trail like that; somewhere along the line, the team and the separate organisation will overlap, and forensic accounting will find that overlap. As soon as they do, the FIA would have it in their power to ban a team from competing until a full investigation can be carried out.

          1. Maybe FIA thought about it and this is why we don’t have budget cap yet.
            There doesn’t need to be a paper trail and I don’t think FIA can make anyone besides the F1 teams to present financial records.
            The F1 team will always know which is the best development path and what part works. It can “fake” the development process if needed and will produce parts by itself. It will have 100% success with every part but that is not a crime.
            On a side note – is there a sport with a budget cap? Isn’t F1 a business now? What business have a budget cap?

          2. @crr917

            On a side note – is there a sport with a budget cap? Isn’t F1 a business now? What business have a budget cap?

            That’s a really interesting question. I have heard of a “salary cap” in some sports but not a budget cap.

          3. @crr917

            Maybe FIA thought about it and this is why we don’t have budget cap yet.

            No, there’s no budget cap because Red Bull have refused to agree to any regulations that would see it become mandatory.

            There doesn’t need to be a paper trail and I don’t think FIA can make anyone besides the F1 teams to present financial records.

            There is always a paper trail. You can’t spend $250 million without keeping track of how you spend it.

            The F1 team will always know which is the best development path and what part works. It can “fake” the development process if needed and will produce parts by itself. It will have 100% success with every part but that is not a crime.

            Except that there comes a point where the team has to acquire the parts from the separate entity once they are developed. That is the inevitable overlap, and the FIA would naturally ask questions about why the team is receiving parts that they should have been developing from an organisation that apparently serves no other pupose but to develop those parts and their only use is by the team.


            On a side note – is there a sport with a budget cap? Isn’t F1 a business now? What business have a budget cap?

            That’s a really interesting question. I have heard of a “salary cap” in some sports but not a budget cap.

            I don’t know of any other sports that have a budget cap – but nor do I know of any other sports where teams regularly spend $300 million a year.

            The (Australian) National Rugby League has a salary cap because player salaries are the teams’ single biggest expense. They are designed to prevent one team from amassing an enormous corporate backing, and then purchasing all of the very best players to dominate the competition. A budget cap in Formula 1 would be designed to meet the same end: limiting each team’s costs in their single biggest expense. It’s the same concept, it just has a different name and is applied to a different aspect of the team. And the salary cap in the NRL is effective – the Melbourne Storm got caught breaking it a few years ago, and that was for $4 million over the salary cap limit. This proves that they are effective, that they can be policed, and that there are serious consequences for violating the rules. If a budget cap were introduced in Formula 1, no team is going to want to risk having championships disavowed, getting kicked out of the sport and the possible criminal charges they would face for breaking the rules.

          4. There is a sort of a budget cap in prototype racing, LMP2 cars are cost-capped with maximum mandated prices for a rolling chassis, an engine lease and a separate aero kit for Le Mans. Chassis price is capped at 345 thousand Euros with the Le Mans aero kit capped at 15 thousand, and the engine lease is capped to somewhere under 100 thousand Euros per season. And, at least for the 2012 season, it made the class explode in terms of numbers (the most populated class at the Le Mans 24h last year).

          5. @prisoner-monkeys

            There is always a paper trail. You can’t spend $250 million without keeping track of how you spend it.

            Ofcourse I will know where the money went but no one else will(FIA).

            Except that there comes a point where the team has to acquire the parts from the separate entity once they are developed.

            It will not acquire them not physically. What if the drawings or evaluations suddenly appear every other morning on the desk of the technical director of the F1 team? Maybe he is just that good in his job :)
            The phantom factory purpouse or lack of it doesn’t matter. It will be a money sink and will attract the tax officials but I doubt this can hurt the “operation”.
            NRL example is good, didn’t know of it. But if I had to make the choice of being in contention for the title and risk losing it later or not being in contention at all, I would go with the former.

          6. Then you would get caught and probably kicked out of the sport. Forensic accountants are trained to catch onto the tiniest discrepancies and follow them wherever they lead.

          7. I agree with @prisoner-monkeys that teams such as Red Bull would have a hard time spending – let’s say – more than 25% of the budget cap without FIA noticing and taking action.

            The problem is that car manufacturers will naturally have overlaping within their Formula One team and other parts of the company or at least car manufacturers would create such overlap in order to dodge the budget cap. And doesn’t Formula One want to be more related to road cars than it currently is? It would be nearly impossible for FIA to control and determine which parts of a car manufacturer are part of their Formula One team and which isn’t.

            And even if we assume FIA would be able to create some boundaries for car manufacturers and monitor them, we can still assume that those car manufacturers could exceed the budget cap far more than Red Bull or other teams that aren’t car manufacturers.

            Therefore I can easily understand why Red Bull is against the budget cap. Do I have an alternative proposal? No, but I simply cannot see budget cap working, unless we want to give car manufacturers a huge benefit.

            I don’t know of any other sports that have a budget cap – but nor do I know of any other sports where teams regularly spend $300 million a year.

            Soccer? Barcelona and Real Madrid both had a budget of over 400 million euros in 2011.

          8. Then you would get caught and probably kicked out of the sport.

            No one kicks anyone in F1. Until you have money to spend on F1 you are welcome. Team Enstone wasn’t kicked after Crashgate. F1 can’t allow itself to lose a leading team as there is nothing to replace it. You can’t promote a team from a lower group to take its place.

          9. @crr917
            “no one kicks anyone out of F1″
            Teams “kick” each other often but that’s different topic.

          10. @crr917

            Team Enstone wasn’t kicked after Crashgate.

            No, they weren’t – but that was because Renault aided the FIA at every step of the investigation and convinced them that Britatore’s actions were not supported by anyone else in the team except for his co-accused, Pat Symonds and Nelson Piquet Jnr. They opened the entire team up to a full investigation, and co-operated with anything that was asked of them. For that, they were given a two-year suspended sentence, which means that they housed an FIA observer for the next two years and had to comply with any and every request the FIA made of them on any future avenue of investigation. Any failure to do so or any future indiscretions like the Singapore incident would have resulted in an instant exclusion from the championship for that year, pending a full hearing where they likely would have been kicked out. Renault served the full two-year period without incident, and have been allowed to continue competing without a problem.

          11. @prisoner-monkeys
            So they were not kicked exactly as I said. After Spygate McLaren were stripped from points in WCC and fined only. Even for blatant breach of regulations a team was banned for 3 races many years ago. And that was all. I don’t see a reason why someone would not try to do what I said. There is nothing to be scared of (historically) even if they do get caught. Which in my view is a big “if”.

          12. @crr917

            So they were not kicked exactly as I said.

            You’re acting as if they were not punished. They were. The only reason why they didn’t get kicked out of the sport was – as I said – because they convinced the FIA that briatore was acting alone, and because they co-operated at every step of the investigation. Even then, they were placed on an extreme form of probation and watched carefully. One mistake would have seen them excluded from the sport.

            Even for blatant breach of regulations a team was banned for 3 races many years ago.

            I believe that was BAR. They were not kicked out of the sport because what they did was not something that could be punished by being kicked out of the sport.

    2. I maintain that I don’t think a budget cap could be effectively policed. In my mind, the best way of limiting the spending of teams is to limit what they can spend it on, such as wind tunnel running, track testing, data usage and the amount of materials. It is well known that Red Bull invest a significant proportion of their funds in Red Bull Technologies, a separate entity to Red Bull Racing, which highlights just one of the problems of a spending cap.

      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like seeing teams simply out-spend their rivals and I would much rather see creativity, knowledge and experience prevail but I don’t feel a simple budget cap is the way to achieve this: the task of tracking spending in the teams is simply too gargantuan.

  10. LoreMipsumdOtmElor
    15th January 2013, 8:11

    Then let F1 die in peace and start over again. Private teams with works engines, unlimited testing and no budget caps.

    1. And how long do you think it will be before those teams start spending $300 million per season? I’d say it would be about two hours. After all, Red Bull is one of those private teams with a works engine that you seem to think can save the sport, and they’re the ones spending the most.

      1. LoreMipsumdOtmElor
        15th January 2013, 16:08

        That’s what I was saying. Let them spend as much as they want.

        1. And that’s just going to kill the sport all over again. It’s unsustainable.

          1. LoreMipsumdOtmElor
            16th January 2013, 7:28

            Without works teams, unlimited budgets in F1 would work. Teams can’t spent more money than they earn by competing in F1 opposite to works teams who can just take money out of their retail earnings.

    2. Well at least if they started over they wouldn’t have to give away half of the revenue they earn.
      Nearly all the money problems the teams face could be alleviated by keeping 100% of revenue and doubling the payout to the teams.

  11. Whone whine whine, moan moan moan. All this financial talk is getting boring. Gascoyne says that F1 at this level is unsustainable…perhaps for him but not the bigger teams. It’s perfectly sustainable for them simply because they continue to do it. He mentions Mosley’s idea of a budget cap that failed but still Caterham/Lotus decided to join F1 so they knew exactly what the case would be. I’m not against a budget cap but I don’t like these new guys coming in and complaining about an established situation that they didn’t have to involve themselves in.

    1. When Lotus (and Virgin and HRT) joined the grid in 2010 it was with the understanding that a budget cap (the Resource Restriction Agreement) was on the way, which would put all teams on a level playing field within a few years. I can understand that he’s a bit annoyed it hasn’t worked out that way.

      1. @jimg They shouldn’t be naive enough to think that a sentiment is as good as a written agreement!

        1. @andrewtanner In F1 even written agreements are pretty, ahem, flexible ;-) Even so, I can understand him being a bit peeved by the situation.

    2. don’t like these new guys coming in and complaining about an established situation

      Gascoyne is a “new guy”!? Wow.

      1. @maroonjack New guys/new team…

        Even more so he should have known what he was getting into!

  12. budget caps won’t work and are not the right way to regulate spending. FIA should rather not allow things like Double Diffuser, EBD, F-Duct, Flexi Wings… even then the order of the teams won’t change but the grid will be a lot closer and any error will be costly.

    1. @dev

      FIA should rather not allow things like Double Diffuser, EBD, F-Duct, Flexi Wings

      But the problem is that the FIA doesn’t know about or plan for these things until the teams create them. These designs are possible because the teams find loopholes in the regulations that allow them to use the devices. The FIA can try and close them up, but they’re powerless to do anything more about it – and with each new amendment to the regulations, new loopholes start to appear. It’s all well and good to suggest that the FIA tries writing a rule book without loopholes, but so long as designers earn more money exploiting the loopholes than they will closing them in the first place, the teams will continue to come up with designs that the FIA never even dreamed of.

      1. When teams try to exploit the loophole they approach FIA to check if they are within the rules; FIA can simply say no it’s not fine and give a clarification or amend rules. Lotus was not allowed to run some suspension related stuff, also FIA introduced engine mapping rules midway of the season. FIA just needs to keep amending the rules…

        1. So there would be no innovation?

          1. And no innovation equals GP2.

      2. @prisoner-monkeys, maybe you are right and we do need some “fixed” common parts for all teams, but if we have to have that let’s “fix” the aero-package and allow the teams to develop their engines and drivetrains then at least there will be useful information and products developed.

    2. I would personally rather a more open rulebook in combination with effective cost-controlling measures which would allow for innovation in all the teams, which really is what F1 is all about from an engineering perspective – not this silly chasing of hundredths of seconds with constant front-wing tinkering.

      So essentially I absolutely disagree that the way in which the FIA should control costs is to simply ban everything: if they were to do that they might as well make F1 a spec series (which goes against what F1 is all about, the combination of team and driver). All that would serve to do is reduce interest of the manufacturers, which is already dwindling. The way to do it is to control the resources which the teams are using in my mind.

  13. I see a number of fanatics complaining about the financial side of the sport declaring that F1 needs to let the poor teams get out and let the richest teams prosper. Yet, most fans also complain whenever a driver is dropped because they can’t bring sponsorship money.

    If the teams continue to spend at this level, it will simply lead to customer cars, which, in turn, will discourage large manufacturers and make privateer teams extinct. If spending continues, Mercedes for one will drop out, Lotus could be in bother and Williams will more than likely collapse. I also see no reason why Red Bull would commit long term to the idea.

    We saw this with Honda, Toyota and BMW within the last 5 years! Financial constraints are a must, not only for teams but the sport in general. In my opinion, we are losing too many great tracks for financial reasons also. A budget cap of anything less than £120m is ridiculous. You can’t pay drivers £30m pa and expect to run a team of hundreds of staff and race across the world on the same budget! However, we have too many teams ultimately fighting for their own agenda for this to be clearly and fairly sorted out. The FIA need to go to much greater lengths than it has done over the past few years.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly with last sentence. But with regards to teams leaving and financial side, I do not.

      Major thing now is, mind set of the Formula 1 team now is to make profit. This is on a global scale for any manufacturer. That those teams alone who create the spending culture we witness now, it’s their fault that money is their final destination. This is a mentality lets spend as much as we can, cause that might result in more.

      It’s silly to talk about Honda, Toyota, Mercedes or whatever, as soon as one of their smart executives won’t find words to describe why F1 adventure is financially profitable, he will get sued by his own company.

      I’m fine with manufactures supplying engines, but teams, they bring too much heavy baggage that kills the purpose of why teams like Williams or McLaren were established.

      It puts smile to my face, to see Frank Williams and his team here and now, while BMW, Honda etc.. left. Just shows exactly their true intentions.

    2. @rbalonso, Honda,Toyota and BMW got out of F1 not so much because they couldn’t afford it but more because the avenues of research and development they were interested in (the engines) became too restricted for them to actually learn anything from and thus the expenditure was no longer justifiable.

  14. Thanks for my first CotD Keith! As for budget caps, I’ve heard it would be hard to implement because of ways to indirectly develop. I’ve heard of something called Redbull Technology. Could that be a loophole to exploit in event of budget cap?

    1. he he …We shall call it the RBT like the RB7 :P

  15. A budget cap seems like an unattractive solution to what should be quite a simple problem, but I do feel there’s some wisdom in saying that this is the most viable approach.

    The alternative is to try and tweak the rules to make it cheaper to build an F1 car, but this carries with it a lot of problems. There are really three paths for reducing costs using the technical regulations (although they aren’t mutually exclusive, and a combination of the three would likely be the best for balance) – the first would be to open up the regulations to allow more innovation. The example here (don’t yawn, I know I say this a lot..) is sports prototypes in the WEC – technical rules are open so you have more freedom for innovation. Different constructors then come up with their own, technologically distinct, solutions. It reduces the need to make tiny incremental modifications to minute details of the car in order to gain an advantage. The problem with this approach is that while it would reduce costs, it would also reduce the competitiveness of the field – something which is not really in the interests of the sport, so long as we believe the (rather questionable) mantra that overtaking is everything and field-spread is to be avoided at all costs. There’s a danger that you would still end up with a single optimum design philosophy which all teams would need to adopt, and then we’d be back to the development of minutiae –the way to avoid this would be to shake up the rules regularly, say every three or four years.

    The second option would be to keep restrictive rules, but make material changes to the design concept of an F1 car which significantly reduce the costs. If we take it that what really defines an F1 car, beyond pretty much any other consideration, is its ultimate laptime being a certain percentage faster than the next tier down, then there are a huge number of ways to achieve that target. F1 cars are, by nature, needlessly expensive. As already pointed out, simply reducing the minimum weight of the car and introducing larger, grippier tyres would go some way to removing the aero dependency of cars. But more than that, things like F1 engines are desperately overengineered for the specific output required – 750bhp is not a huge amount of power by the standards of the day, while the engineering tolerances required to create the extremely high rpm from a small capacity NA V8 makes them extremely expensive. All for the sake of a noise which the huge majority of F1 fans will never actually hear with their ears anyway. Why not just have simple turbocharged engines, which can be cheaply produced and would likely be more reliable and efficient than the current V8s? But beyond engines, look at some of the more innovative motorsports concepts these days, making traditional cars look archaic – look at the DeltaWing, showing how a mechanically simple car can achieve the same results as a very complex one, by thinking outside the box.

    The third, and simultaneously most effective and least desirable option, would be the introduction of strict homologation rules and spec parts. There’s no reason, for instance, why you couldn’t have a standardised suspension and brake design which all cars use. Expand this philosophy and you could have spec chassis, spec gearboxes, engines, all the way through to spec cars a-la GP2. The latter would never fly, of course, since it violates the fundamental ethos that constructors must make their own cars. But there’s a good amount of mileage in the idea of homologating parts, especially those which are largely invisible to the fans. Why don’t all F1 cars use the same braking system from the same supplier, for instance? It would mean that the FIA could negotiate a great contract with a sole supplier, and remove the need for teams to spend money developing something which is, frankly, going to be virtually identical to every other team’s solution anyway. Not to mention ensuring that all components meet safety requirements out of the box, without every individual solution being tested. So long as you stick to ‘invisible’ technology, then I can’t see why it would put off manufacturers, who would be more keen to show off how well they can make a chassis than their own wishbones. A variation on the concept would be to limit the number of iterations of a single part allowed through the year. Say, four different front wing designs, only one exhaust design, etc. Although that creates the danger of locking in the advantage of a single team all through the season, while removing the ability of the slower teams to innovate and catch up through using clever designs.

    So, no simple solutions there, and every avenue presents a lot of potential problems. So, given the complexity of the issue, a simple solution is preferable, and when it comes down to it, budget caps are a simple solution. Yes, they’ve not been properly implemented so far through resource restriction, with some teams blatantly bypassing the rules, but so long as it could be properly policed, then this is definitely the easiest way to go. There’s a broader question about whether it is really necessary to reduce costs, of course. F1 should be, to some extent, very expensive and exclusive, because it needs to be something which is very difficult to do, in order to preserve the prestige. So yes, reduce costs, but let’s never try to dumb down F1 to the point where anyone with a few million in their back pocket could have a go and be successful. This is the pinnacle of motorsport. It’s meant to be complicated, it’s meant to be difficult.

    1. @mazdachris – option 1 sounds good to me! I sometimes get the impression that the FIA are trying to manufacture good racing by closing up the field until the margins are so ridiculously tight that no team can ever gain an advantage, a trend which seems to be continuing this year. I would like to see F1 recognising that it is as much a sport about the constructors as the drivers: I have yet to hear someone complain that Barcelona are gaining an unfair advantage because their team is too good relative to SPL teams for example. It doesn’t devalue the effort of the drivers in my mind having a good car: everyone can still recognise and appreciate that Lionel Messi is one of the greatest footballers in the world despite the fact he plays for the best team.

      If the argument against a more open rule book is that then I beg to differ; if an effective way of controlling costs can be devised and hence all team given an equal opportunity then I feel that is the best solution. After all, football is the most popular sport in the world yet Spain recently appear to have had the monopoly on the silverware – why should F1 be any different if Ferrari win (if the opportunities are equal)?

  16. I know a lot of people tend to dislike the idea of a budget cap & often suggest it would kill innovation etc… However I actually think it would work the opposite way if done in a sensible way.

    If you have a sensible budget cap, Then you would see innovation & smart thinking move teams to the front rather than having the current situation of those with the biggest budgets & those who can spend the most on development throughout a season leading the field.

    The smallest teams such as Caterham often get the ‘if you can’t afford it then pull out’ comment thrown back at them, However this is ignoring the fact that over 50% of the grid are struggling to afford the cost of F1 which is why you have many teams looking for drivers who bring some funding.

    The idea of total unrestricted spending & design would be interesting to watch im sure, However it would be a totally unsustainable formula, Can-Am spent itself into the history books by working like that.

    1. Funnily enough F1 survived longer with unrestricted development than it has so far with all the restrictions.

      1. F1 has never had unrestricted development, There has always been a set formula which designers/engineer’s have had to work within which limited what they could do.

        1. Minimum weight, engine capacity etc. yes that is why they changed the name from F libre (free/unlimited) to F1, but those were broad parameters within which development was unrestricted.

    2. I agree that F1 shouldn’t allow itself to get into the situation that Can-Am found itself in – costs definitely need to be controlled – but I feel that the regulations should be opened in combination with a “budget cap” (or whatever the alternatives are); that would give a true indication on which team is the best. Of course the regulations would need to continue to evolve as that is what spurs on designers (if the regulations remain stable for too long the cars will increasingly become carbon-copies of each other) to innovate but as long as we don’t find ourselves in the situation we are in now, with the changes in the cars ranging from 10mm of endplate to a slot in the rear wing (which lets be honest few people get excited about).

  17. P.Hemberey states again that they were guilty of going too conservative on tyre choice late in the season.
    I got the distinct impression that the USGP was a great success despite/because the tyres lacked grip and wore very well because of the new super-smooth track surface. Wish I had seen it. Was I wrong ? Was it a boring procession with no overtaking?
    If in fact it was a good race without many pit stops but plenty of passing as I understood what is PH talking about?

  18. I never understood this “costs are too high” thing. For whom are they actually too high? For all those people who are being laid off because some other 3 teams don’t want to invest in their own business?

    It would be like me opening a software development company, for example, and then telling Microsoft to lay off all of their hard working people for no other reason, except for me being incompetent to get enough money to start the business in the first place or being incompetent to make it sustainable.

    During all this talk about hard times, hard economy, I can’t for the life of me understand why are companies that actually have the money told not to employ people. Surely F1 teams should be encouraged to employ people if they can.

    Secondly, that’s actually the one area where money doesn’t disappear up someone rich guy’s ass (I’m looking at you Bernie), but is given as a paycheck to hard working engineers, to other firms outside of team who are in the similar line of work, like production of brakes etc.

    That money isn’t burned, it’s actually injected and should help economy, so why stifling it?

    Areas where money should be saved and budget caps set, is on the money Bernie is allowed to ask from race promoters, in other words, race fees. Too much of that money is going to Bernie and similar 1% filthy rich.

    This would in turn mean that any money that is being shared between Bernie and the teams, based on percentage, would be smaller, and that would mean that teams would have smaller budgets, which would in turn mean that teams would have less money to spend so it would bring the costs down inevitably, insuring costs can’t sky-rocket.

    But as long as we are hearing standard budget cap nonsense (and Bernie wouldn’t like it any other way, nothing that is too logical or actually practical and doable), costs WILL skyrocket and people who are doing the hardest work will be screwed even harder.

  19. if you had 20 Caterhams on the grid painted different colours, would you actually notice a difference?

    Uhm, yes. I would. Most definitely.

    If they really introduce a budget cap of 50 million I will stop watching F1. F1 should be the pinnacle of motor sport. Not the pinnacle of regulations and limitations.

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