Back in March the FIA WMSC met to discuss future possibilities for the 2010 and 2011 Formula One seasons. Aside from the change in the points structure that was initially planned for 2009 but then put back until 2010 was the introduction of the optional budget cap. The cap was designed to allow smaller teams to compete with the larger teams, as those who accepted the limit of £30m would be have development limitations lifted. This cap as now been revised to £40m, but that isn’t the only change.
Previously, the proposed £30m would encompass every expenditure a Formula One team makes with the only exceptions of the motor home and any penalties and fines the team receives during the course of the year. However, the cap has now been increased by £10m and importantly, engine costs are now not included. Also removed form the budget are the drivers salaries, marketing and hospitality and anything else the teams can prove has no affect on its on-track performance.
This makes far more sense from a team owner perspective because additional items like PR are completely separate from the sporting side. If Red Bull want to spend millions of pounds on a lavish parties for their guests, then why can they not – after all, it is their money and has no influence on how fast the Red Bull car actually goes. If Dietrich Mateschitz would rather a decent bottle of champagne rather than Tesco Value, then in all honesty, whatever. It’s his money.
As before, the capped teams will be allowed more technical freedom to develop their cars and engines. The engine will not be rev-limited and adjustable front and rear wings will be allowed. The wind tunnel usage will not be monitored and the teams may test as much as they want during and between the racing seasons.
The budget capped teams will be monitored by a new organisation set up called the Costs Commission, and the WMSC has stipulated that a chairman and two commissioners will oversee the teams and ensure they are remaining within their budget. The FIA has stated that one commissioner has to be experienced in finances while the other has to have high-level experience of motor sport.
With several companies expressing a wish to enter Formula One providing the budget cap is reasonable, the FIA has also raised the maximum entry number of teams from 24 to 26 (13 teams). And from a non-experienced look from the outside in, the cap looks to much better and more thought out than previously. It will be interesting to see who of those interested parties will now come forward to say that they will step up to Formula One and have a go. It will also be interesting which of the current teams take on the budget cap and if it will have any impact on the racing.
One concern I have is that the actual racing will be damaged. If we presume that Ferrari do not accept the budget and remain within the current regulations but with a fund limited by only what they can raise, will they still be able to compete with the capped teams who will be able to develop cars and engines that are potentially superior. All it would take is for one of the capped teams to stumble across something that will add several tenths to their lap time at a fairly low cost and we could have one team winning everything.
I wonder how much the fabled Toyota/Williams/Brawn diffuser cost to develop and build? I’m not suggesting that is the only thing on these cars that is making them fast, far from it, but you get my point, I hope.