Zak Brown, Andreas Seidl, McLaren, Monaco, 2019

Seidl: “I think the number has to be a lot lower” on F1 cost cap

2021 F1 season

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Andreas Seidl, Team Principal of McLaren’s F1 team, has said that the proposed F1 budget cap needs to be a lot lower to be sustainable for a majority of F1 teams.

Seidl is the former boss of Porsche’s successful LMP1 programme, winning three drivers’ and constructors’ world championships, as well as the Le Mans outright win each year, consecutively between 2015 and 2017. He was appointed to McLaren in January this year, joining the team in May and approaching the French Grand Prix with two months in his new role.

Speaking in Canada, Seidl said that he could not be specific about the details of numbers that would be presented or that McLaren would find preferable.

“First of all I want to mention that we have an agreement with the FIA and Formula 1 that we don’t speak about any details of what has been presented.

“So it’s down to them to actually speak about the figures and so on.”

However, Seidl went on to confirm that the currently-proposed budget cap needed to be “a lot lower” for most F1 teams to be able to operate in a sustainable way.

“I think in general we would have been in favour of the number being a lot lower.

“Because I think the objectives that have been set out, from the beginning have been to really create a sustainable sport and business.

“For most of the teams, I think the number has to be a lot lower but let’s see what the outcome is in the end.”

Teams agreed to delay 2021 regulation from being presented to the World Motor Sport Council meeting last week – but after some requested alterations, took financial regulations (rather than technical or sporting) out of further debate or change before they are now to be presented in October.

As outlined in Dieter’s column last week, a ‘hard’ cost cap of $175m per annum ( any calendar adjustments) will operate from 1 January 2021, with specific exclusions for, amongst other things, driver salaries and marketing directly attributable to F1. However, a ‘soft’ cap will apply during 2020 to enable the governing body and teams to acclimatise to the procedures and fine-tune them. No penalties will be incurred for spend during this period.

Don’t miss RaceFans’ exclusive interview with McLaren team principal Andrea Seidl in today’s RacingLines column.

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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16 comments on “Seidl: “I think the number has to be a lot lower” on F1 cost cap”

  1. That is actually a topic where the smaller teams could have a lot of weight and the issue is not the cap in itself, it’s that teams are overspending.

    To clarify, the smaller teams are not competing for victories and are currently a long way from the leaders. What if they agree to reach a ‘sustainable’ situation between themselves and compete with the money they have and will earn back. The gap to the leaders will probably grow but smaller teams finance will get better (as Williams proved last year).

    This will surely trigger some reaction from FIA to close the performance gap as the majority of teams will be even further from the big 3 as they are now. Leading eventually to smaller teams competing sustainably.
    If they can unite, they probably have as much weight as the big three on this.

    1. They’d never cooperate.

  2. Is it just me that thinks the year of “soft” cap just gives the teams a year to practice fudging the books?

    1. It might @gdog, but it also gives other teams, and the panel that’s going to check the cap, time and opportunity to find those tricks being tried then, and report them.

      After all, Ferrari and Mercedes are big companies, they surely have a big battery of internal accountants that can think of a lot of tricks already; Red Bull, while a bit less complex, probably can get, or has, those too. So you’d think, fertile lands there.

      But, Renault is bigger than them all, and has motivation, ie. reputation, on the line to show their ‘to the limit but not beyond’ method wasn’t foolish, and so, reasons to look very closely. And surely Liberty media has those guys too, and a similar motivation, even if those three don’t feel like ratting out on each other if they can (see dr. Marko already threatening we will have championships decided that way).

      1. The nature of F1 is it’s own deterrent.
        The same people more around between teams, and it would be impossible to hide shady practices for very long.
        Working in the grey area with technical rule interpretations is one thing, but no team would blatantly try cheat after the way things played out with Spygate and Crashgate (& to a lesser extent Testgate).

        Public companies would never risk their reputations and share prices being part of a controversy, which limits the scope of additional budget that can be ‘hidden’ in other projects. It would be possible … but the manufacturers wouldn’t be complicit. The last time we had a manufacturer caught deliberately cheating was probably Toyota in WRC decades ago … and the fallout from the VW emissions scandal is still very fresh in everyone’s minds.

        Monitoring cost caps then becomes a relatively simple task of policing a very small familiar pond of well known characters … by experts led by other characters who used to swim in that same pond & know all the tricks already.

  3. The issue of the cost cap is not the amount its how is it policed. Manufacturers “can” if they choose to do so can bill a cost of an F1 part against another branch of their company. IE – you can charge the cost of a new front wing against that sexy new sports car you are R&D’ing at the moment. I’m not suggesting the big teams will do this as they will probably know if someone is getting round this as they will roughly know what it takes to build a new XYZ but it is a concern to be addressed.

  4. I realize some may find this a naive thing to say but I think there will not be a lot of abuse of the cost cap regs as I think even the big teams genuinely want to play in a more sustainable affordable F1.

  5. Oh my sweet summer child

  6. Guybrush Threepwood
    19th June 2019, 13:24

    The problem with introducing a cost cap at the same time as making fundamental changes to the design of the car or engine is that it will severely penalise those that aren’t spending big money up to the point of the cost cap being introduced.

    The big spenders will over spend on design which will then be baked into the car for years to come while no one can catch up because they can’t spend the money due to the cap.

    They need to introduce the cost cap and then advise the teams of design changes a year or two later.

  7. *facepalm*

    Sure, let’s switch F1 cars to go-carts and drive around for how much, 5 million a year including driver costs (because no one will want to drive this…)?

  8. a ‘hard’ cost cap of $175m per annum … will operate from 1 January 2021

    Given the lead times involved in designing and building F1 cars, I assume that there is nothing stopping a team ploughing significant resource into their 2021 car during the 2020 season in order to circumvent the effects of the budget cap which only becomes effective on 1 January 2021. This practice wouldn’t be outside the letter of the law, so I assume everyone will be at it.

  9. A lower number… what a weird statement. Don’t single out spending when there is also something as income (and the current flawed distribution of it) which is just as big a part in being ‘sustainable’….

  10. Redistribute the wealth more fairly and there won’t be a need for a cost cap. Lower teams can then survive and build over time steadily, with the field closer than before.

    It seems odd to effectively take money out of the sport overall by introducing a cost cap. F1 doesn’t have lower divisions as such. Awarding the lower teams more of the cake will long-term mean that the field becomes closer. I’m sorry but cost-caps will be impossible to police… Subsidiary companies are bound to be created as suppliers with their own r&d teams, with the team being a customer of parts.

  11. What about a cap they can all agree on, then giving them freedom to run whatever they see fit?

  12. Paul (@frankjaeger)
    20th June 2019, 13:22

    In my wildly unversed opinion, I think he’s right. 175m seems too much for the sport to be sustainable. I’m fairly sure the smaller teams don’t reach nowhere near that figure in terms of operating costs.

    Wouldn’t the best way to solve this is to consult all the struggling F1 teams and ask them exactly how much they can put into their F1 outfits and create headroom around that for the bigger teams with more revenues?

    I dunno

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