Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

New rules will make F1’s top teams “dinosaurs”

2020 F1 season

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Formula 1’s new rules will make the top teams “dinosaurs”, Racing Point technical director Andrew Green has predicted.

The new rules, which were approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council yesterday, will reduce the new-for-2021 budget cap from $175 million to $145 million (plus expenses). The leading teams in the constructors’ championship will also face tighter limits on how much aerodynamic development they can do.

Racing Point is one of F1’s smallest teams. Green says they resisted the urge to add hundreds more staff following their purchase by Lawrence Stroll in 2018 because they expected the rules would compel teams to reduce the size of their F1 operations.

“It’s one of the first discussions that we had,” he told the official F1 website. “What do you need? What should we be doing?

“With a view to not becoming one of these big monster Formula 1 teams, to try and maintain the efficiency and the size that we currently have, which we really felt was a proper sweet spot as far as team size is concerned.

“We didn’t want to suddenly expand from 450 people to 800, 900 people. That was never on the wish list.”

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Increasing their operation to the size of the top teams might have been attractive previously, said Green. “But not now, not in the current climate and not with the with the regulations that are coming in starting in 2022.

“I think those teams now are dinosaurs. You’ve got to be small, lean, efficient, and I think that’s our strength.

Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020
Racing Point is one of F1’s smaller teams
“As far as the financial side of the regulations are concerned, I think they’re coming to us. They’re definitely going to allow us to be able to compete with what used to be big teams because they can’t be big teams anymore. They’re going to have to come back down, get much closer to our level.”

Green believes Racing Point are well placed to take advantage of the new regulations which will force teams to operate more cost-effectively.

“We’ve been doing it for years. We’ve been at this level for a very long time. And I think we do a reasonable job at it. But by no means I’m saying we’re doing the best or couldn’t do better. Of course we could. But we have been doing it a long time and I think we have put systems in place and groups in place who know how to work in a cost-driven environment and I think that’s going to help.

“A few years ago, yes, I’d’ve been turning around to Lawrence and saying ‘right, new factory, 900 people, we need to be able to do this, this and this, our own wind tunnel, we need to be doing all of this if we’re ever going to compete’. That’s not the case anymore.”

While Racing Point is constructing new facilities, Green said “we’re still not planning to fill it with 900 people.”

“It’s a different strategy” he explained, “it’s taking the manufacturing aspect that’s always been outside of our control because we’re such a small team we do have to outsource a huge amount of manufacturing and starting to bring some of that in-house so we can we can shorten the lead time.”

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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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43 comments on “New rules will make F1’s top teams “dinosaurs””

  1. Señor Sjon
    28th May 2020, 8:14

    I wonder when teams will ‘outsource’ st(a/u)ff to India and other cheap labour countries. That usually happens when money is a fixed amount.

    1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      28th May 2020, 8:33

      That’s a really interesting point. What elements of a Formula 1 team could be moved to India, China or elsewhere?

      This is another reason the cap is flawed. I’d just prefer a system where the performance of the is dictated more by the driver so the effectiveness of spending money is less.

      1. Matteo (@m-bagattini)
        28th May 2020, 8:44

        > is dictated more by the driver

        That would be a spec series, but F1 has always been a constructors-forward championship.

        1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
          28th May 2020, 9:02

          Nope, not a spec series. It should be possible to formulate rules which give all teams a reasonable chance at a lower cost.

      2. ColdFly (@)
        28th May 2020, 8:48

        There are already many series where the performance is ‘dictated more by the driver’. @[email protected]

        1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
          28th May 2020, 9:15

          Yes, other series which are strong, well supported and highly entertaining. Unfortunately they are not for the World Championship Driver or Constructor.

          I’d like to see the best drivers in the fastest cars, really going for it, but only 5 or 6 drivers realistically have a chance to win. That’s just crazy.

          And I know you will say well its a team sport, but the last team to win other than the big three was Williams in 2012. EIGHT seasons ago. The new aero handicapping system (yuk) won’t help. The last thing F1 needs is a budget cap, where a good accountant or logistics guy might determine the performance of the car.

          F1 should be about driver skill, engineering skill and close competition. At the moment it is not.

          1. ColdFly (@)
            28th May 2020, 9:31

            Totally disagree with your last comment. F1 is all about driver skill and engineering skill. Engineering skill is obviously shown by the dominance of the teams with largest numbers of engineers. Consequently, driver skill for the casual observer is limited to beating his teammate. But the better driver rankings (including on this site) prove that many fans can still identify great driving in a slower car.
            Close competition will only be achieved when limiting the differences in sizes of engineering departments. Therefore the budget cap, even with its flaws, will help reduce those differences.

            Of course some ‘fans’ will continue to ask for more action to reduce the difference in car performance and rely more on the drivers. I don’t see that as F1 as you either make it a spec series, or you artificially benefit poorer performers (equalisation adjustments from the past, or the proposed aero handicap system).

          2. @coldfly There have been a few occasions in relatively recent history where competing teams have created cars that were very close in performance without being at all ‘spec’.
            Ferrari/Mercedes and Red Bull/McLaren/Brawn have each had short periods where the driver provided a substantial difference in performance on the track. Just look to the mid-field, even now, where 3-5 teams can be within a very small performance bracket and the drivers can make a difference.

            However, in each of those occasions it has been largely circuit specific, or only lasted for a handful or races before one team got a development jump on the other.

            If the driver can’t play a large enough role (and they normally don’t) then perhaps the WDC should be abolished or made available to a different series that does reward the driver for their performance independently of the team they are a part of?

          3. I’m with @coldfly. I think he’s nailed it with his summary.

            I don’t like the aero restrictions at all, they’re very much “not F1” in my opinion and I think there shouldn’t be any need for them if the budget cap is done well. But capping spending is brilliant for sport. I’m sure 150mil/year will still give you the fastest cars in the world.

          4. @coldfly @S For me what I am expecting when the dust finally settles and the wholly redesigned cars are on track, is that with cars far less disturbed in dirty air due to the majority of their downforce coming from ground effects, we will see a more driver oriented series. I expect that a car/team that has been perpetually slower than others by virtue of their lesser staff and resources, will no longer be limited race after race by being a few tenths slower and therefore perpetually stuck in dirty air without even a sniff of a passing attempt. Without that locked in advantage of top cars being able to keep cars in their dirty air virtually always, or indeed slower cars being able to hold back top cars at times for the same reason, depending on the track, there should be many days and many opportunities for lesser teams and their drivers to shine on a given day with a nailing of a setup or what have you, that will not be wasted once coming up behind another car and being frozen there. F1 is going to become a driver series even just by their ridding themselves of clean air dependence, let alone the tendency towards a better financial balance for the grid and the other measures being taken. I predict some inspired drives by some, and basically more of a sussing out of the men from the boys.

          5. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
            28th May 2020, 15:42

            @ColdFly the fact that

            the better driver rankings (including on this site) prove that many fans can still identify great driving in a slower car.

            proves my point. I’m sure the drivers don’t care one jot about these rankings. Better drivers don’t deserve to be in a slower cars, many great drivers are lost to F1 because they never get a fair crack in decent equipment.

            I agree with you, any form of artificial equalisation, such as the new aero dev rules are bad, but I include the budget cap in this also. A spending cap is just as artificial, but worse, non engineering or driver skills can then also come to the fore. As much as possible, racing should happen on the track not off it (yes the design board and workshop too).

            I know you are an F1 nut like me, but its funny how we all get something different from F1.

          6. ColdFly (@)
            28th May 2020, 19:58

            @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk, from one nutter to the next, indeed great that we can enjoy the same sport but for different reasons.
            I admit that I’m still rooting more for certain drivers than for different teams. But when thinking about it, this is not what I want F1 to be. F1 IMO is a team sport and the team should be front and centre. You might have seen previous posts by me where I played with the idea of having a 1-2-3 podium for teams, with a small side-step for the winning driver. I sincerely hope that F1 gets to that point one day; teams first and drivers a close second. I strongly believe that the team part makes F1 stronger and future proof, rather than just being the entity paying for the best driver.

            F1 is still short of football. In football fans tend to support a team rather than a specific player, even though they can have the name of a player on their favourite shirt. I doubt that many FCB fans will change allegiance if if (oh dear) Messi moves to wear white one day.

      3. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk This team already had part of its marketing team in India under a different guise (even if, in that case, the motive can probably be found in the then-team-name “Force India” rather than on economic grounds).

        I am sure South-East Asia can look forward to some parts of some F1 teams being referred to them – though for a variety of reasons, I expect it will be on a multi-centre basis, with one centre in the EU, another in South-East Asia (not necessarily just due to different wage levels, but also to take advantage of a broader range of expertise and to enable more effective protocols during Asian rounds of the series).

      4. (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk) That’s a really interesting point. What elements of a Formula 1 team could be moved to India, China or elsewhere?

        Indeed, this is the American style of corporate management, cheapen the product, put fewer chips in the same bag, outsource the manufacturer of them, cash in on the stock price. The fact they were able to move it up with the abysmal financials they were announcing these past few quarters shows how a small earnings bump can yield 10X the windfall in the market. But, as anyone who has ever shopped at Walmart knows you are not getting the same product as before.

      5. And I want a more car based series. F1 is at kind of at a balance now.

    2. Not sure of recent times but I remember Ferrari outsource simulation to Indian IT firm- T. C. S.

    3. Señor Sjon Bad idea as they find it very hard to control quality. An example would be Renault who contracted out the production of power supply parts and have had a lot of reliability issues.

      1. … which allowed them to apply ‘reliability upgrades’ which just happened to increase their performance. Pure coincidence of course, but as ‘reliability upgrades’, perfectly within the rules.

    4. F1oSaurus (@)
      28th May 2020, 12:36

      Other resources are also fixed though. Like a fixed number of wind tunnel days and fixed amount of CFD computing power.

  2. Much more important than the cap limit is the decreased development amount that big teams can do.

    That should weed out inefficient bulky organisations. For sure Ferrari will fall pray to that and potentially Mercedes. Teams like Racing Point should find to be much closer to the front than before.

    I anticipate in next Era of F1 smaller teams can again fight for podium and maybe even a win.

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      28th May 2020, 12:42

      @jureo I would think more about Red Bull. They are especially supposed to benefit from the advanced aero from Newey. If they actually get ahead on aero they will lose development in that area.

      Besides, if you add the engine budget from Honda (or subtract engine budget for Mercedes and Ferrari), Red Bull has the biggest budget of all top teams and most employees working on the cars too.

  3. So, who will you copy now Mr Green?

    1. @Jon Bee They didn’t copy anyone then, so I don’t think Mr Green will need to furnish a reply to that one.

      1. Why is their 2020 car being called the pink Mercedes then?

  4. The budget cap might even up the playing field a bit (my bet is it won’t and that is one reason why there is little resistance from the bigger teams, but leave that aside) but most of the other changes are going to be negative for two reasons.

    The more the regulations the more loopholes will be found making the recent Ferrari type furore more common and more disruptive. If it can’t be improved in-house will we have more Spygates?

    The more restrictive the rules are the less interest manufacturers are going to have in the running teams in the series.

    Those supplying teams will reduce and stagnate. If, for example, everyone uses the same gearbox why would a gearbox manufacturer look for an improved model to replace the one they already supply. Why would another company even contemplate investing in a better gearbox if there is no prospect of selling it?

    F1 is competitive on and off the track. That is its DNA. Too much standardisation and regulation kills initiative, innovation and entrepreneurial energy. For proof look at the UK in the 70’s or the USSR, Cuba. China boomed after Dung opened up the economy to competition. Commercial history is littered with companies who saw standardisation as the absolute answer including Ford which as a result skirted bankruptcy twice and GM who got so complacent and lazy and thought a badge changed a brand, complacency which led to perhaps one the biggest bailouts in US history (until today of course.

  5. I’ve been watching F1 since I was a kid, in the nineties. At some point in the early “noughties” I transitioned from a casual to hardcore fan and for as long as I’ve been properly following the sport budget caps have been discussed. And, I’m sure, long before.

    More recent discussions got more serious, but I never really believed it might happen. I’m finally allowing myself to get excited.

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      28th May 2020, 12:44

      @gongtong Indeed. I just feel that it’s a waste that they never gave the budget cap a decent chance. Before it’s even been implemented they already start working on cutting it even lower and even going as far as adding a performance penalty system.

      1. @gongtong @f1osaurus Probably because it’s not clear some of the teams can afford the original cap; events have rather overtaken the planners here. (I suspect we will lose at least one team no matter how the number is set; the number only affects which team(s) are lost).

        1. Teams have been lost throughout F1’s history. An F1 team is a business, businesses fail, yet the industry survives.

        2. F1oSaurus (@)
          28th May 2020, 20:16

          @alianora-la-canta

          Probably because it’s not clear some of the teams can afford the original cap

          We’re talking about a cap to maximize budgets of the big spenders. Not a minimum requirement that all teams need to meet. So they can spend well below that cap if they so choose.

          1. @f1osaurus yeah I completely agree. In my reply to Coldfly further up I said the same. I’m banging my head against the wall with the success punishment on aero. It just doesn’t seem necessary at all, even with current events. It’s not going to save anybody any money until at least the end of next year, and only the big teams.

            Closing the budget restraints up encourages good sporting contest. Punishing success is not what F1 should be about. I could accept a success ballast system of some sort, or even grids of reverse championship order, but restricting development I can’t be happy with.

          2. F1oSaurus (@)
            29th May 2020, 7:37

            @gongtong Exactly. This feels more like a knee jerk reaction or perhaps just a means to push through some changes undesired by the top teams (who’s going to protest now in these times?)

            Also completely agree that I like the idea of the budget cap. It just means you cannot by results. The poenalyty on success is indeed an atrocity which goes utterly against F1.

            What I don’t understand is that he budget cap was presented as something that would allow less struct technical rules. Since budgets are locked there is no chance of a spending war and therefore teams can decide on the value of a certain technology for themselves.

            Yet now suddenly they turn around and actually introduce rules to punish success.

  6. I don’t see why the common thinking seems to be that the success of the big teams is simply down to their having more money than the others. Newey doesn’t get dumber if you pay him less, and even if the cost cap leveled salaries across the teams, I’m sure the majority of top engineers etc., would choose to work for Mercedes/Ferrari/Red Bull than for Haas or Racing Point. The quality of the staff is what separates the haves from the have nots and that quality is not going away with a cost cap.

    1. @velocityboy – You almost had it. You’re literally one step from making your exact counterargument.

      Newey doesn’t get dumber if you pay him less, and even if the cost cap leveled salaries across the teams, I’m sure the majority of top engineers etc., would choose to work for Mercedes/Ferrari/Red Bull than for Haas or Racing Point. The quality of the staff is what separates the haves from the have nots and that quality is not going away with a cost cap.

      Newey doesn’t get dumber, but Red Bull gets dumber if they can no longer afford Newey. Clearly, he would be prioritized, but the general point applies more broadly. If what matters is the “quality of the staff,” and I’m not disagreeing with you, then how much you can afford to pay “quality staff” is an important factor.

      1. @hobo that’s why I also said if salaries were leveled across the teams, the top people would still chose to work for the top teams. The knowledge is and likely will remain cloistered among the top teams and given that there are only so many people at or near Newey’s level, as an armchair engineer, my guess is that the path should be to make speed cheaper and simpler to achieve.

        1. But how many of the ‘top’ staff can any one team afford to keep.
          Newey can’t do it all on his own. If he costs as much as 20 ‘good’ designers that achieve roughly the same end result but in less time – they could get more work done overall with them instead.

        2. @velocityboy — I don’t think salaries will be leveled, I think different teams will prioritize different staff. The result, I would assume, would be that some “quality staff” (to use your words) will be let go and go to other teams, raising that team’s quality level.

          If anything, I think this will make it less easy for top teams to hoard staff. Not that I think any team was keeping extraneous staff on their ledgers just to keep them from other teams. Rather, it will be more difficult to keep everyone they want to keep, so that some will work other places.

  7. I like it that Green shows this team feels really boosted to have a shot at doing what it was doing as Jordan GP – be able to snap at the heels of the leading teams, get a win in here and there and get fans excited by a smaller outfit winning.

    A really good point about not wanting to grow – this team has been so efficient, so good of extracting results from the lean budget they had available. They really have been a top contender for bang for buck and that is one of the things that helps be a fan of the team.

    1. @bascb mind you, at its peak Jordan was still a reasonably wealthy team in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and there is some debate over whether the Mugen-Honda engine supply deal made Jordan a semi-works backed team in that period (although Mugen is officially independent of Honda, Honda owns 45% of Mugen and many saw it as a means for Honda to unofficially gain experience in F1 before they formally rejoined the sport).

  8. This whole thing makes absolutely zero sense to me. Just distribute the prize money in a much fairer way. What is happening now is that wealth is being taken away from F1 as a whole at a time when redundancies are inevitable. What we need is a long term plan that gradually shifts the existing wealth towards the lower teams, not capping the top teams and forcing them to essentially throw away staff. I am not an economist by any stretch of the imagination, but this whole affair is utterly ridiculous.

    1. @john-h — I like this bidirectional approach (cost cap lowering the ceiling, prize money distribution raising the floor so to speak) as it gets at the issue quicker than either individual approach on its own. After a few seasons, if the regs get what they were aiming for, they could raise the cost cap a bit or change things to allow more flexibility. But I think moving slowly on this from the start, after not moving at all on it for decades, would have prolonged the issues at a time when F1 cannot afford to lose teams.

    2. F1oSaurus (@)
      28th May 2020, 20:22

      @john-h “Just distribute the prize money in a much fairer way. ”
      That does pretty much nothing significant.

      So a team that spends half a billion gets a few dozen million less and the smaller teams get a few million more. That will narrow the gap down from 500-125 to 450-150. That’s completely useless.

      So yes, pretending that makes any difference makes zero sense …

      Capping the 500 million down to 175 million however. That makes a massive difference. Even if the big teams spend 100 million more on the their drivers, team boss and hospittality. They can still spend only 175 (or 145) on their cars.

      Now 175-125 (or say 175-100) is a massively smaller gap than 450-150

      1. Yes it will make a massive difference, I agree with you, but you’re also going to put hundreds, if not thousands of people out of a job from the top teams. So much focus on saving the smaller teams, thinking Ferrari and Mercedes are somehow ‘bad’, but they employ many many people.

        All premier League teams are able to survive, and sometimes even prosper, because the TV revenue is much better distributed. I should have said prize money and TV revenue earlier.

        What people are asking for with a cost cap is a revolution, but it’s very dangerous. Small iterative steps were required years ago, but they are still the right way to go about things even now.

        With the value F1 has, we should be aiming for more like 300-200 rather than 175-125. That’s absolutely possible and closes the gap enough to enable other teams to sometimes win and grow into established teams, like Leicester City (who will qualify again for the Champions League this year).

        @f1osaurus

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