In the first of a number of strategy meetings designed to map out the future of Formula 1 for 2021 and beyond, the FIA and Liberty, Formula 1’s owner, last week outlined proposals to tighten regulations governing the relationships teams are allowed to have with one-another.
The proposal takes the form of an expanded list of parts that teams must have designed and built themselves explicitly for their own use, limiting the number and scope of hardware any team can buy in or have given to them from a second, usually bigger and more competitive team.
This is to curb the cross-pollination of parts between A and B teams we’ve witnessed in the last couple of seasons that has allowed the likes of Sauber and Haas to benefit greatly from hardware given to them by Ferrari, moving them steadily up the grid at the expense of those who wish to remain independent and autonomous such as Williams and McLaren, leaving them in what top telly pundit Martin Brundle has described as an ‘F1 void’.
Another key topic of discussion at the strategy meetings is how to introduce an enforceable cost cap that will meet the needs of teams from the top to the bottom of the F1 grid, whilst also encouraging new manufacturers to sign up to F1.
It would also need to address the make-up and business models of each of the different teams (Car giant and F1 engine supplier Mercedes vs global drinks empire Red Bull vs little old Williams) in order to ensure there aren’t any loopholes by which teams could get an advantage by securing themselves additional funding through the back door.
The structure of any such cap would have to be complex so as to promote the health and competitiveness of the smaller teams while at the same time limiting the spending of the bigger teams without diminishing F1’s appeal to them.
A similar cost cap was attempted as recently as 2010, when a proposed optional limit of £40m (excluding certain peripheral costs such as marketing & hospitality, driver salaries and engine development) was suggested in exchange for greater technical freedom for teams who adopted it vs those who didn’t.
However, despite each of the teams saying they were committed to reducing costs, they failed to reach agreement on the details of the deal (notably the figure at which their budgets would be capped) and it was scrapped before it was implemented.