Maurizio Arrivabene, Toto Wolff, Monaco, 2018

F1 teams seek more answers on Liberty’s 2021 plans

2021 F1 season

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Formula One teams will seek more details on plans to overhaul the sport in 2021 from Liberty Media in a meeting today in Monaco.

The 10 teams want more detail on proposals which include introducing a budget cap, changing how revenue is distributed between the teams and revising the regulations.

Asked by RaceFans what the teams hope to learn from today’s meeting, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: “Hopefully a lot of detail will be put on the table as to what Liberty’s next steps are.”

“They need to be responsible steps, because some of the things like budget caps involve literally thousands of jobs through teams and suppliers and sub-contractors. It’s certainly heavy in the UK. But we’re waiting with interest. It will be interesting to see what the next stage of that roll-out is.”

Mercedes’ executive director Toto Wolff described the discussions around the proposed 2021 changes including the cost cap as “highly complex.”

“It’s about technical regulations, revenue distribution so there’s multiple balls in the air which you need to catch. I hope also that the meeting is productive, so we understand more and can act accordingly.”

The most contentious area of discussions is likely to involve changes to the power unit regulations, according to McLaren Group CEO Zak Brown.

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“I think sponsors are excited about the future direction of the sport,” he said. “I think drivers either want to drive in Formula One or not so I don’t hear any drivers contemplating whether they want to drive in the new era of Formula One.”

“And then maybe engines, because that isn’t yet defined, that may be the one area that’s a bit difficult, sitting here today, to make decisions on. I’m not sure every engine manufacturer is definitively committed for 2021 so that would be the one area that would be difficult to maybe make a decision on today.

“But I think we have to have faith that everything is going to go in the right direction and the sport’s only going to get more exciting so I don’t see anyone leaving.”

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25 comments on “F1 teams seek more answers on Liberty’s 2021 plans”

  1. FlatSix (@)
    25th May 2018, 9:46

    “But I think we have to have faith that everything is going to go in the right direction and the sport’s only going to get more exciting so I don’t see anyone leaving.”

    Am I the only one that fears this a little. I really see a surprise exit from one of the teams, be it from the top or bottom, or any other in between. Haas might consider the benefits once more and see it’s all a waste of money, if Ferrari hasn’t won a title by then, Sauber and Williams continue to struggle financially, Red Bull or STR have no option but Honda and are pushed out of the top, Renault sell it again because they haven’t reached the better paying positions by 2021, Force India remains without proper owner and financial backing,… Mercedes call it a day because they’re going towards Formula E and the financial marketing benefit has worn out, McLaren finally pulls the plug after few more years of decay and terrible results,…

    It’s not like I have to look hard for a valid reason for each team to consider quitting the sport, and that worries me.

    1. @flatsix – Scary thoughts. Could be worse. Bernie swoops in and buys F1 back for pennies in 2023. And the grid is filled with used Brabhams.

    2. That may be all true, @flatsix, but is the situation really much different than the last decade or two in the sport? There will always be the threat of teams dropping out for one reason or another. This, I believe, is why any moves that entice new team entries are so vital. But is it acceptable that such changes – such as the change to the engine format – may push out certain manufacturers? I am in two minds on that. I want new entrants… but not really at the cost of F1 being the pinnacle of motorsport technology. Dropping the MGU-H really would be a massive shame because it is so road-relevant. I can’t remember who said it recently but F1 needs to remain the laboratory it has always been. The only thing that really is crystal clear to me is that F1 has to become more interesting to new entrants, one way or another.

      1. @shimks I believe bar from the top three and McLaren quite a few teams are really banking on the redistribution of the financials, which as far as I’m aware haven’t yet been approved?

        I’m afraid the only way to become more interesting is become way more simple in technology, and that inevitably means dropping the MGU-H however sad that would be, but the same applies for the way to complex aero regulations and the devilish front wings it spawns.

        I don’t believe in ideas like a cost cap, or creating spec cars or chassis elements. That would no longer be F1 to me but F1.5 if you like…

        1. @flatsix, the thing is, there do not seem to be that many companies that would be prepared to enter F1 if they did simplify the regulations.

          After all, Cosworth have only said they’d enter if somebody else underwrote the bill to enter F1, whilst frankly I do not believe Palmer’s hot air about Aston Martin entering (he’s admitted that any “Aston Martin” engine would be somebody else’s engine with an “Aston Martin” sticker on top of it).

          Realistically, there seem to be no new entrants who want to enter F1 if they drop the MGU-H, whilst, with new agreements between the FIA and the teams, the costs to customer teams has now been brought down to the point where the current V6 engines are now cheaper than the old V8 engines were.

          I can’t see what benefit there would be in dropping the MGU-H – it doesn’t look like it would draw in any new manufacturers, it is a move that has alienated the manufacturers that the sport does have and, by the sounds of things, it’s not going to make the engines cheaper as the manufacturers will shift spending onto different parts of the engine instead (such as on anti-lag systems instead) and the manufacturers are going to want to recoup their costs from somewhere.

    3. Ferrari have already said they may pull out if they don’t like the the plans for 2021 and Lauda recently said that Mercedes may do the same. If both were to leave, I don’t see there being much of a future for F1 as it’s value as a marketing tool would be greatly diminished.

      1. “If” is the biggest word in he dictionary. Ferrari and Mercedes will find nothing so draconian in the direction F1 is going, which is largely in the right direction, for them to leave. If Liberty or Brawn were to suggest something drastic and the two teams literally said ‘then we’re done’ that would then cause Liberty and Brawn to examine why said proposal would cause their exit, and they’d then adjust that and not do that drastic thing. So far there seems to be only one main sticking point and that is about the MGU-H removal. Whatever happens with that, I doubt that would be enough for teams to leave. Things will sort themselves out.

      2. @velocityboy In all fairness, Ferrari have said they might pull out about 3 times a year since the Schumacher years and Lauda, while I have nothing but respect for him, likes to talk a lot.

        I actually look at it from the other side, say if Mercedes and Ferrari were to pull out right now, we would have Red Bull slightly ahead of the pack and a very competitive midfield, which would turn into the actual playing field.

        I would say a new team would actually be more enticed to enter F1 if it has a realistic shot at a title, and if you removed the top 2 teams, which obviously are the ones that moan because they have the most to lose, it creates opportunity for the others.

        So in that sense, I don’t fear much for the future of F1.

        1. @eljueta If Ferrari and Mercedes were to pull out now, there would be a crisis due to a lack of engines. Next you would probably see Renault leave as the engine crisis would require an immediate dumbing down of the engines resulting in little to no return for Renault’s investment. F1 would probably continue to exist but it wouldn’t be the premier racing series we’ve all come to love.
          Personally I think that if Ferrari don’t like the 2021 rules, they may race under the Fiat name which would in effect be the same as Ferrari pulling out.

          1. @velocityboy and from the crisis something better and more competitive might emerge, who knows?

          2. What would Ferrari racing under the FIAT name accomplish for Ferrari? No offense, but that’s the wackiest suggestion I have heard yet. Why in the world would Ferrari stay in F1 and derive no marketing value for having spent hundreds of millions of euros? Besides, Ferrari is a separate corporation distinct from FIAT. In fact, Scuderia Ferrari and the road car building Ferrari are also two separate corporations.

          3. If Ferrari pulled out then F1 would change, but I don’t see why F1 should be in crisis. I guess Ferrari would sell their team to someone else, meaning the team would still race, but with less income from the TV rights payout for the team, but more income for everyone else. I guess Fiat would take over the engine manufacturing division, so instead of teams using a Ferrari engine they’d use an engine named Maserati, Lancia, VM Motori or such like. If Fiat decided to shut down their multi-million dollar earning engine manufacturing plant then other engine manufacturers would increase production. At one time nearly all the teams in F1 used Cosworth engines, so while having a single engine supplier isn’t usual for F1, it’s also not new for F1 either.
            If, by some chance, F1 ended up with no engine suppliers, then F1 would change their engine specifications so teams could source larger engines that produce the same sort of power as the current spec engines do.
            Change? Yes. Crisis? No.

          4. @drycrust, why would Ferrari sell their team to somebody else? Ferrari have indicated in the past that, if they did pull out, they would look to redeploy that team elsewhere rather than sell it off.

            I think that you are taking a bit of a superficial reading of the situation, as both Haas and Sauber are more heavily reliant on Ferrari than just requiring an engine – both Haas and Sauber buy large amounts of hardware from Ferrari (both purchase transmissions, hydraulic systems and some electrical components from Ferrari, whilst Haas goes further with suspension components and so on).

            For independent teams like Sauber and Haas, it’s not trivial to have to redesign the car around a large chunk of new components – yes, we have seen Lotus and Toro Rosso do it, but the competitiveness of both teams has arguably suffered because of having to divert resources into having to redesign their cars.

            Equally, would Haas necessarily still want to stay in F1 if Ferrari were gone, given that part of the reason why Haas set up his team to operate in the way it does is precisely because he wanted to trade on his association with Ferrari?

            Depending on how late that withdrawal occurred, it might not necessarily be easy for the other engine manufacturers to ramp up production that quickly either – Renault have already said in the past that they don’t want to take on more engine customers, whilst Honda’s only recently expanded their facilities by enough to be able to supply a second team (and, even then, it sounds like they are hesitant about the idea of partnering with more teams as they are concerned about resources).

    4. If either or both Ferrari and Mercedes leave F1 after the 2020 season, it will hardly be a surprise to anyone who follows F1, since they have been openly threatening to do so. However, Ferrari is highly unlikely to leave F1 because their entire corporate marketing strategy is based upon participating in F1. Also, Marchionne is openly talking about retirement, and he doesn’t wield enough power to take Ferrari out of F1 just on a personal whim. He’s not Enzo Ferrari. He’s an employee who answers to a board of directors and stockholders. I continue to feel that Mercedes is the most likely team to leave simply because the law of diminishing returns will come into play. It seems likely that they will have won seven championships in a row, and they can market on that achievement for years without spending another penny on F1. I don’t think Mercedes wants to compete in a scenario where they can’t spend whatever amount of money it takes to win, and Mercedes is not dependent upon F1 as their reason for being as Ferrari is. If anything is clear in all of this, it is that Liberty Media does not want a business that is essentially controlled by two or three external entities, namely, manufacturer teams. It is also clear that Liberty Media doesn’t see having a two-tiered championship where some teams spend half a billion dollars to compete with teams spending $120 million. That may be what Liberty inherited when it bought F1, but that’s not a viable long range business plan going forward after 2020. Finally, the entire point of trying to nail down the 2021 plan is to give interested parties enough lead time to develop new engines and new cars to go with them. Decisions are imminent, not years away.

    5. I would love it when Ferrari and Mercedes would quit. This will level the play field and new teams will enter F1. Formula One will still be alive and kicking when Ferrari and Mercedes quit.

    6. Ferrari are not going to quit, you can put money on that. Mercedes might but who cares?

      I would not be opposed to a reshuffle, new blood is badly needed in the form of new teams that can compete for wins and that is basically impossible at the moment. Perhaps if some tops teams did leave then it would do the sport some good.

  2. What’s the current proposal on driver pay with cost cap applied? Presumably the top drivers will not want to race in F1 that pays half of say Indycar, nascar or even FormulaE.

    1. driver’s and a few other key position’s pay wasn’t included in the cap.

  3. Why not jumping to hydrogen PU? Most of the automotive industry senior managers see it as an ultimate solution given no breakethrou in batteries. Let’s freeze this generation of hybrids for the next 5 years (with some concession towards Honda and maybe Renault to let them catch up fast) and switch to developing next big thing. MGU h has zero relevance. MGU k not exciting enough. But Hydrogen can really make it into road cars very soon. It should give as exciting racenig with instant acceleration and flat out pushing for entire go. No car swapping required.

    What do you thing?

    1. On the contrary, it seems that most figures in the automotive industry see hydrogen as a pretty niche market, if not a complete dead end. Toyota is about the only major manufacturer that seems to be trying to mass produce hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and even then they have admitted that their aim is mainly to supplement the market for battery powered vehicles instead of trying to displace them (hence why they are making sure to develop battery powered vehicles as well).

      1. I don’t doubt that hydrogen will power production cars at some point, it is already in use in the self build / DIY peoples cars but the problem is the sheer amount of electricity that is required to separate it form the oxygen in the water. We have plenty of water but the amount of electricity needed to harvest hydrogen is shocking once you scale up.

        Might as well just run the cars on the same electricity.

    2. @rkfanpl I don’t know how a case could be made that a hydrogen PU would be more relevant than an MGU-H, and there is little to indicate that the MGU-H itself is relevant. I think @matt is absolutely correct. Technologies that are highly dependent upon electricity generation and an absent infrastructure are not long term solutions. I have serious reservations about technologies that basically just shift the pollution to another area and are then claimed to be “clean” and environmentally preferable. Even procuring the materials used in the manufacture of batteries for cars causes massive environmental damage and pollution. It’s all heavy metals, and they are shipped back and forth around the world a couple of times before they finally end up in a road car. I would guess that I have enough fingers and toes to enumerate the number of road cars employing an MGU-H because it makes no economic sense to produce one in any numbers. There are only so many billionaires around who could afford one. What the world really needs is a clean way to generate electricity and a way to store electricity that does not require highly toxic materials. In a very real sense, this idea that Formula One is the only place where new automotive technologies can be discovered, developed and tested is archaic. Auto manufacturers have R&D departments working on new ideas and don’t need F1 to perfect them. How long have we had the MGU-H? Four or five years. Now, you want to lock us into that technology for ANOTHER five years? All that does is block any true innovation, and nine or ten years is an awful long time to spend on a single, troublesome component that really doesn’t capture that much energy to begin with. Technology moves (or should move) too fast to be locked in by something like a Concorde Agreement. Formula One is not the place where the world will be saved from global warming and be made a better place. Formula One is a competitive sport and fabulously expensive form of entertainment where individuals and corporations with essentially unlimited funds go to indulge themselves and enjoy the high life. Any sort of “formula” that is characterized by highly specific rules and turns out power plants that are essentially cookie cutter versions of the same frozen design is anathema to true innovation and engineering breakthroughs. Let’s dump these exaggerated claims about being the pinnacle of automotive engineering and thereby (somehow) being the saviors of the world. Just race and put on a good show.

      1. I totally agree. Personally I don’t care about road relevance of F1. What I would like to see is close racing with driver input making a difference. In my opinion
        naturally aspirated V8 with minimum areo would be perfect. The problem is that no manufacturer would like to spend big money on it. For manufacturers F1 is an opportunity to demonstrate to the world their technological superiorty. Does F1 need manufacturers? I guess so – otherwise we and up with spec series. Hybrids are very heavy, the same for batteries based electric cars. Hydrogen PU is very compact and very lightweight. It is a complex immature technology – I agree -but it is feasible and according to automotive industry senior managers worth perusing. So why not.
        About clean power plants – hydrogen can be a good solution for storing energy from wind or solar powerplants for future use. Go check Google.

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