Hamilton concerned “slap on wrist” won’t deter teams from breaking budget cap

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In the round-up: Lewis Hamilton says it is a “concern” that F1 teams may not be deterred by the rules from exceeding the sport’s cost cap.

In brief

Lack of deterrent for breaching cost cap a concern – Hamilton

Hamilton does not believe F1’s financial regulations deter teams from exceeding the total budget allowance. Red Bull were handed a fine and received limitations on their aerodynamic testing allowance for a year last season after the FIA determined they overspent the budget cap during the 2021 season. Williams and Aston Martin also received fines for procedural breaches over the season.

With the FIA currently auditing all ten teams’ submissions for the 2022 season, Hamilton said the possibility that teams who saw the punishment Red Bull received for a material overspent being tempted to do the same was “definitely a concern.”

“I mean, there wasn’t really a big punishment last time, so there’ll be people that’ll probably go for it again and know they’re just going to get slap on the wrist,” he told Sky.

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali recently said teams who exceed the budget cap should face sporting penalties.

FIA working to speed up budget cap auditing process

The FIA says that it is working to speed up how its financial regulations team audits each F1 teams’ submissions for the budget cap for the previous season.

Teams must submit their full accounts for the last year by the end of the financial year on March 31st. However, last year, final punishments for breaches were only announced in October.

Federico Lodi, the FIA’s financial regulations director for F1 and Formula E, says the governing body have more than doubled its permanent staff to help try and speed up the process.

“It’s clear that there is an interest from the stakeholders to have a quick outcome,” Lodi said. “We, as the FIA, understand these requirements, so we have strengthened the department, and now we have 10 full-time employees working on Formula 1 financial regulation. This is a significant increase over last year, when it was just four.

“However, it is still clear that it’s difficult to commit to a rigid timeline, as there are many variables that need to be taken into account. First, there are the findings themselves – what we identify and what we need to dig into further. On top of that, we also have to take into account the fact that we do the review with the support of the team, and obviously, the finance department of the team is also busy with running its business; they may also have a reporting commitment to their shareholders for example. So, while we need to work as quickly as possible, for us the most important thing is not to undermine the robustness of the process.”

Williams’ progress puts pressure on us – Zhou

Alfa Romeo driver Zhou Guanyu says that being overtaken by Williams in the constructors’ championship increases the pressure on his team.

Williams have scored ten points over the last three rounds to jump from tenth and last to seventh, two places ahead of Alfa Romeo. Zhou says his team need to make sure its upgrades over the rest of the season are effective to be able to battle back against Williams.

“We were very close together with Williams, and also Haas, for the whole season and unfortunately got overtaken for that last weekend, so it’s not ideal,” he said. “The pressure is high, but I think the main focus is really to get more out of the package, to be quicker in terms of developing more upgrades coming through the second half of the season.”

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Comment of the day

With some drivers expressing concerns about the Alternative Tyre Allocation system coming into effect this weekend, @f1frog is a fan of the concept…

I think the new qualifying format is a brilliant idea. It doesn’t make things any less fair because the situation is the same for everyone, but it increases the level of unpredictability, as well as the element of adaptability from teams, and should be more sustainable. I don’t see any downsides to this idea and hope it catches on.

However, in general this season there have been a lot of great qualifying sessions and mixed up grids, but overtaking has become so easy that qualifying doesn’t feel as important any more. The more F1 can make qualifying interesting and create mixed grids, the more it would be improved by scrapping DRS.
F1 frog

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On this day in motorsport

  • On this day in 1991 Paul Warwick, brother of F1 driver Derek, died in a crash at Oulton Park. He had won the first four British Formula 3000 races of the year and was leading the fifth when he crashed. He won the title posthumously.

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26 comments on “Hamilton concerned “slap on wrist” won’t deter teams from breaking budget cap”

  1. Lack of deterrent for breaching cost cap a concern

    Lack of deterrent for breaching practically every rule in F1 is a concern.

  2. Lewis is just repeating what other F1 commentators have already said. Better hope if there are others that have strayed merc is not one of them.

  3. Chilton should remember that IndyCar is a spec series, which automatically means more unpredictability, lower likelihood of a driver winning two or more consecutive races, etc.

    Yet another robbing concerning an F1 driver, current or former.
    Surprisingly many within three years.

    At least the fourth different driver since 2013 with blonde hair during a race weekend.

    Finally a post echoing my view about ATA, although overtaking hasn’t been that easy, given how effective DRS train is on several circuits, even those that have historically been overtaking-friendly.

  4. “I mean, there wasn’t really a big punishment last time, so there’ll be people that’ll probably go for it again and know they’re just going to get slap on the wrist,” he told Sky.

    Except that “bad faith” is specifically cited in the financial regulations as an aggravating factor that would cause any penalty to be increased. Deliberately or recklessly overspending because you feel a previous penalty wasn’t severe enough would be the definition of bad faith.

    1. Except that “bad faith” is specifically cited in the financial regulations as an aggravating factor that would cause any penalty to be increased.

      What penalty?
      RBR got a 7% reduction in aero time on something where their main development need was reducing weight and some suspension tweaks.
      The fine was paid by a guy with a big cash pile. They could have been fined 50 million, and it wouldn’t have affected the team by one penny.

      AM – just a fine, as above, outside the budget cap, so zero effect on the team.

      The only teams that could ever have been affected by that version of “fine” are ones that are so short of money that they don’t hit the cap because their funder only has so much cash available that it’s a choice of pay fine or put into the team pot.
      Monetary penalties should be paid from the capped account.

      Domenicalli is wrong with the mention of a few points being deducted.
      Look at the benefits of overspend and ask yourself what difference deducting 20 or 50 points from the RBR total would make.
      If you’re looking there, then the answer is to apply a penalty position drop – that would bite.

      1. It’s worth remembering that Red Bull breaching the cap wasn’t within their control. They had budgeted for an R&D tax credit (which the other UK-based teams will have done as well), but it arrived months late & so much so that they weren’t allowed to count it (despite it still falling in the year under accounting rules).

        That was due to government cuts and incompetence rather than the team themselves… and it could have hit any of the UK-based teams.

        It’s not just Red Bull who suffered from this either: the R&D delays are a major problem across British business right now. This was as far from ‘bad faith’ as it’s possible to get.

        1. Really? I thought it was all because of catering… 🙄

      2. It’s domenicali btw, as an italian I can’t see that double l!

        I’m not really sure if 20-50% aero reduction wouldn’t do a significant difference to red bull’s or anyone else’s performance, I think it would.

        And then again don’t forget we’re talking about minor infringiments, as in 5% or less over the budget cap; when it’s a major breach you really risk disqualification from the championship, so if you significantly exceed it, it’s for nothing.

        1. It’s domenicali btw, as an italian I can’t see that double l!

          Apologies. Fortunately, you didn’t see the double “l” ;)
          The first letter should be uppercase though?

          And then again don’t forget we’re talking about minor infringiments, as in 5% or less over the budget cap;

          Don’t forget the comments from low ranking teams that the RBR overspend was approximately the lower rank team’s full in season development budget.
          The budget cap is being pushed down bit by bit towards what the low teams can afford, but there’s still a big disparity.
          Teams like Alfa Romeo (Sauber), Haas and Williams (and even Aston Martin in previous setups/names) had too little money to even come near the cap.

          RBR, along with Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes, agreed the cost cap. To breach it and then bleat about how hard done by they were was a smack in the face for the lower teams.
          That “fine” had zero impact on the team budget.

    2. How’s do you prove bad faith, though? Without a “smoking gun” admission that they’ve done it on purpose or a leak/whistleblower from inside the team, any team could say they just made a mistake.

      I do suspect there will be another minor breach of similar scale to that of RBR which is attributed to a similar misunderstanding of the rules. I also strongly suspect that they’ll be handed a significantly more severe penalty, as the FIA know they messed up with how light the penalty was for RBR, which will cause outrage, accusations of bias and a complete ****-storm.

    3. Bad faith policies only work if the FIA is willing to apply them – and then only when they are always, and exclusively, applied to those who do what they do in bad faith, regardless of any other factor.

  5. @f1frog Exepct qualifying should be the pinnacle of pinnacles. If we put them on hardest possible tyre it’s like racing with full tank of fuel on board. Car doesn’t feel right. Yes it moves and best drivers end up in top but its a no for me.
    In the end its good they try something new but..

  6. I have doubts about ATA qualifying system for Q1. I feel teams will only run 1 set of hards, and the newer the better, so probably they will only use it for the last 9-10 minutes for 3-4 flying laps. Will the beginning of Q1 be just 9 minutes of drivers in their boxes?

    Apart from that, I like the rest of the ATA system. But I should say I prefer the sprint shootout (and only the sprint shootout) format for the qualy.

  7. I don’t agree with this Alternative Tyre Allocation at all. Primarily because quali is fine as it is and I’m tired (no pun intended) of continuous revisions of the part of the weekend that works and not the parts that don’t. Practice is too long, sprint races are a horrible idea poorly implemented and DRS has become so intrinsically linked to car set up that teams no longer use it as an advantage, merely a joker to apply as much downforce for the rest of the lap and are happy to sit in boring DRS trains.

    ATA is a case of prescription for the sake of prescription – something F1 specialise in. How can putting all the drivers on the same compound increase unpredictability? It might favour one car philosophy but after round 1 that’s baked in. The only way a backmarker can put a front runner out on pace is by a tyre performance offset. Part of the joy of quali is having a front runner save a set of softs and fight a backmarker on a much more equal footing – there is a gamble required and therefore 2 drivers at 10 tenths rather than relying on car performance.

    Another element that annoys me is the constant blocking of drivers on fast laps in quali. Is 20 drivers completing 2 or 3 warm up laps on the hard really going to avoid congestion on a slow tight circuit like Hungary, where it’s super dirty off line? I can see a number of time penalties for blocking in q1.

    So once again I ask, to whose benefit are these tyre constraints? The solution should be freedom of choice in the race and in quali. Let’s allow teams to pick the best tyres for their car, by all means make it a small pool of the softer compounds, by this is micromanagement which will inevitably be reversed as soon as a real world example is used.

    1. notagrumpyfan
      21st July 2023, 7:56

      I think you make a good case for testing ATA!
      Let’s see if the negatives you raise outweigh possible (see COTD) positives.

      1. I’m still not clear on the benefits aside from saving the tyres themselves. Removing tyre strategy hurts backmarkers and the audience. The trade off is saving tyres for a poorer, more predictable show.

        1. notagrumpyfan
          21st July 2023, 11:43

          The CoTD raises various possible upsides: “same for everyone, () unpredictability, () adaptability from teams, and () more sustainable”.

          Hence a test is a good way to assess and weigh the pros and cons IMO.

          1. I understand the points made I simply dispute them. It’s the “same for everyone” now. How is putting all the cars on the same compound increasing unpredictability? Tyres are a massive performance differentiator which we’ve made more or less a constant. I’m not sure what “adaptability” means in this context. It’s a fairly simple change to simulate, if anything it’s much easier for the reasons listed above.

            As for the sustainability element, there’s nothing stopping the teams using all their sets of each compound in each session. So if the teams would not use the hard at all now they have to. They might not have used it due to warm up, so now they will do 2 runs.

            The tyre allocation limitation I agree with unreservedly but mandating tyre compounds in quali or the race is interference for the sake of interference, at the cost of the show for the fan.

          2. Unfortunately, none of the claimed benefits appear to be definite, and only the latter might not be just as well met by keeping things as they were.

    2. Part of the joy of quali is having a front runner save a set of softs and fight a backmarker on a much more equal footing

      I think you wrote that the wrong way round, but assuming that flip yes, the ATA mandating particular tyres does negate that twist in qualy.
      The way it’s set, the ATA makes it all about car performance and nothing about qualy tyre strategy.

      Sprint is an idea that missed the target totally.
      Bin the ideaof them being part of F1. Run them more regularly with last year’s car and potential F1 drivers

      1. No, I wrote it as I intended – I enjoy the risk element of a championship contender putting a set of hards on in q1 to save a set for another run at Q3. That jeopardy is to the backmarker and the audience’s benefit. My exact concern is that this is removing the tyre strategy element – and mandating a Haas to run hards in q1 is grossly unfair. They have quick warm up and come alive in quali and fall away on the race. We’ve put a rule in that moves them further back on pace and then protected the front runners from having to save a set of tyres and the performance cost.

      2. I like that suggestion, it makes it an extension to the previous season without the Prime Drivers as an influence to the Championship, although still adding some form of points to the current season’s tally.

        Not only that but it would give the “up and coming youngsters a seat to shine or sh—in” as in make your choice of young driver a wise one.

        Now that would pull in a huge viewer influx.

        The budget is unlikely to raise the budget, especially if the driver wages were pegged at a low level, so you’d only get the truly dedicated youngsters with an eye on the future clamouring for a seat.

    3. F1 is incredibly wasteful on its tyres, so there’s a need to address this in the coming seasons. That includes not using five or however many sets of tyres in a single qualifying session. Obviously they have to experiment with the current selection of compounds, so the scheme is a bit compromised because of it. But it’s a worthwhile attempt because it’ll effectively be a test for both the teams and tyre supplier.

      1. Surely the solution to that is that the teams have fewer practice sessions and have a finite number of sets across the weekend. I don’t think there is, or should be, a rule mandating that when the driver leaves the pits in the race they must be on brand new rubber. I don’t see how forcing them to use tyres that they wouldn’t normally use benefits anyone, for example the full wet is almost a total waste of time as we never use it, so could we not lose that one as a starting point?

        1. The thing is that people want to see F1 cars on the track, especially those who go to the events. Reduce the number of practice sessions and even get people would buy 3-day tickets, and most circuits struggle to make enough to justify holding a Grand Prix as it is. Reduce the tyre allocation significantly and you do the same thing, as teams wouldn’t run as much in practice, wanting to save tyres for competitive sessions.

          Plus, the existing rules hand yet another advantage to the top teams: they can save more of their preferred tyre for the race, so give just enough performance in qualifying to get them into Q3 then gain a larger performance advantage during the race.

          Note: I neither support nor oppose the ATA format, I’m just pointing out the opposing arguments.

          1. I’ve considered these factors but I still can’t abide the idea of mandating performance for an unquantifiable resource saving. We’re breaking the competition model without assessing the root cause. If tyre usage is excessive, limit the mileage, increase the window of the intermediate or make the recycling of the tyre more efficient.

            The expense of grand Prix, for the fan and the organiser is excessive but when I’ve attended GPs I’ve always found there to be plenty of action. In many ways a variety of categories make the F1 cars feel more special. But cars on track will always be a resource headache.

            Regarding the rules favouring the top teams – to the victor go the spoils. It’s a meritocracy and if one team is faster and can save tyres then that’s part of their advantage. Baking in car performance in quali can’t be a solution, the tyre save is disputable as nothing is stopping the teams doing a 4 stop the next day and the qualifying show is dramatically reduced.

            Like sprint races, 2016 qualifying, one lap quali or one race tyres – they’re all nice ideas on paper but most people suspect they won’t work in reality. I’m tired of messing with the strongest part of the weekend for something that no-one has asked for with dubious benefits.

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