Budget cap still on F1 agenda as teams voice support

F1 Fanatic round-up

Eric Boullier, Gerard Lopez, Lotus, 2012In the round-up: Some team principals voice support for the imposition of a budget cap in F1.

Links

Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

F1 teams open to reviving budget cap (Autosport)

Eric Boullier: “There are three ways: budget caps, maybe a more conservative technical and sporting regulations because I am sure there are changes to be made in sporting one to save money, and the RRA.”

Hamilton should stay at McLaren, says Kovalainen (Daily Mail)

“If I was him, I would stay there. McLaren is a great, great team and every year they are there or thereabouts and if they have some difficulties they are able to come back.”

New front wing for Caterham (Sky)

Heikki Kovalainen: “It is slightly different and should give us a straightforward performance increase, some more downforce and hopefully makes our car a bit quicker. Other than that, there is nothing major, just a few small updates. The front wing is the main thing we will have this weekend.”

Mercedes upgrades get green light (Autosport)

“Mercedes now plans to fit the new exhaust layout to both Schumacher and Rosberg’s cars in Friday practice in Singapore. If the testing proves successful, then the team will commit to racing it on the Marina Bay circuit too.”

Taking Toro Rosso forward (ESPN)

James Key: “With regards to the Sauber car and the current Toro Rosso, the Sauber is clearly working well. There’s been a lot of work over the past two years and that’s certainly showing now. I think as the Toro Rosso stands there are probably a few things – they are technical details so I’ve got to be careful – but there are a few things that are perhaps quite clear straight away. We will maybe try to do something this year with the time we have, perhaps on the mechanical side to try to balance the car.”

Goodwood Revival, 2012: celebrating Daniel Sexton Gurney (Peter Windsor)

Pictures from the Goodwood Revival.

Singapore Grand Prix Survival Tips (Up the tempo)

“Since I?ve been for every single instalment of the night race, here?s a quick round-up of some small things you can do to make your time at the race track easier and more enjoyable!”

Intervista a Kubica: “Ho ancora voglia di correre!” (Omnicorse)

Interview with Robert Kubica (in Italian).

Tweets

Comment of the day

Yesterday’s look at gearbox change penalties provoked an interesting discussion about whether the efforts of a driver and a team can – and should – be considered separately in the eyes of the rule-makers. Here are views from opposing sides of the debate:

I voted no, because I agree with what is written in the article : drivers shouldn?t be punished for something beyond their control.

The best alternative would be to do the same thing done for the engines : a limited number of gearboxes for the hole season, and a total flexibility about how and when they are used. That way, we can really hope the reliability will improve, we won?t see too much shuffle grids, and it could really help average drivers to improve (it?s quite frustrating to have a penalty after a strong qualifying for a driver who isn?t used to high grid positions).
@Dan_The_McLaren_Fan

I voted yes. You can?t see the team as separate from the driver. The driver is a member of the team. Drivers often suffer as a result of things outside of their control, it?s just that in this instance the result of mechanical unreliability is a grid penalty rather than a race retirement. At the end of the day there is no reason why teams can?t build gearboxes that?ll last the whole season if they wanted to. The problem is that they compete to build in the minimum required mechanical strength in order to minimise weight and size. This is why they fail to last, and this is a decision the team themselves take when designing the gearbox. If the rule were unfair, and it was impossible to build a gearbox which did what they are asking, then I would say that the rule is unfair. But it?s not, and so the drivers must bear the consequences really.

I do think that we?re seeing far too many of these penalties, but I think the responsibility lies with the teams for building unreliable gearboxes, rather than with the rules.
@MazdaChris

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On this day in F1

This time last year we had a look at how the team mates had stacked up against each other in the season so far.

It provoked an interesting debate in the comments, not least over whether Lewis Hamilton would overhaul Jenson Button in the championship before the end of the season:

Image ?? Lotus F1 Team/LAT

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26 comments on Budget cap still on F1 agenda as teams voice support

  1. bentwenty said on 19th September 2012, 0:35

    shhh Heiki you can maby get a seat back there

  2. HoHum (@hohum) said on 19th September 2012, 0:48

    I am all for less restrictions and more innovation so if that is what an RRA can provide I say “let’s have it”. I do wonder though how it can work as no matter if HRT have exactly the same number of engineers, designers, cad-cam machines, motorhomes etc.etc. as Mercedes and Ferrari have in their F1 operation how can technology transfer between divisions in these massive organisations be policed, and then there is the advantage of the larger organisations to attract the best young talent due to security and greater advancement opportunities even if the “team” salaries are capped. If this happens then Ross Brawns prediction that the “manufacturers” teams will be the best place for a driver is unarguable.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 19th September 2012, 1:03

      Of course the best thing that could happen would be for the teams to be able to claw back a lot of the money they earn but do not receive due to the outrageous division of the income between the 12 teams and FOM.

      • Exactly! F1 makes a huge amount of money, but why is not more of it going to the teams!? At the end of the day, how is a budget cap going to be policed? Its impossible! Big companies like Ferrari, Renault, McLaren and Mercedes could easily use other divisions to spend money on resources. If cost is such a problem, then why introduce new engines!? The cost on this alone just for development is most likely more than teams spend in a season. There is so much bull about the current engines not being beneficial for road cars, like a 1.6L V6 turbo is any different!? Sure the turbo aspect could be more in line with what road cars require, but I think KERS and similar systems are much more important. I mean how many manufactures are now looking at energy recovery instead of a turbo option.
        The teams don’t get the return they should, simple as that!

        • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 19th September 2012, 9:50

          A turbocharger is an energy recovery device. It takes the energy of the exhaust gasses and uses that energy to charge inlet pressure, giving more power. Turbos are fundamentally more efficient than naturally aspirated cars, and significantly more efficient than superchargers. If you take a look at the engines that car manufacturers are making these days, you’ll see the likes of the Mazda Skyactive, Ford EcoBoost, and so on; all of them small displacement turbocharged engines with direct fuel injection using complex fuel delivery and ignition systems to improve economy. This is exactly the approach being taken with the new engines, however I do feel that the concepts are compromised somewhat thanks to a slight reluctance to move forward. Personally I don’t see the benefit of having a V6 over a straight 4, in terms of economy. It’s just more material and added complexity for zero gain. Also, the high RPM limit seems to be there solely for the benefit of improving the sound, while if you were to try and develop something genuinely economical then you would go for a lower revving, higher boost solution.

          The saving grace for the new engine formula is that they will also be elligible for sportscar racing, unlike the current V8 engines. Which means that they could potentially find a lot more customers and recoup more costs by selling the engines and powertrains to sportscar teams, who can also be used as rolling development platforms.

        • I mean how many manufactures are now looking at energy recovery instead of a turbo option.

          None, except for manufacturers that pride themselves on being naturally aspirated, such as Ferrari. Otherwise, most manufacturers are looking at both of these things.

  3. icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 19th September 2012, 2:18

    Somehow the Mercedes upgrade new doesn’t rev my engine……unfortunately.

    I would love to see a Michael win after all these years before he retires. Also, there is a forecast this weekend at Singapore….fingers crossed.

  4. Kimi4WDC said on 19th September 2012, 3:07

    Money will be spent regardless if it is more R&D in Formula 1 or a bigger bonus/share package for some high level manager.

    Personally I would rather have teams go ballistic on developing new stuff, rather than supporting our growth model.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 19th September 2012, 8:13

      Personally I would rather have teams go ballistic on developing new stuff

      The problem is that that’s unsustainable. It will get to the point where teams have to spend two or three hundred million dollars just to be in a position where they can be competitive – and they will then have to spend that same amount again in order to actually be competitive.

  5. I agree with @MazdaChris. The drivers, as part of the team, are the ones who benefit from a light weight ultra-fast gear box. They are the ones who should suffer when the gearbox is unreliable, it’s only fair.

  6. BasCB (@bascb) said on 19th September 2012, 6:57

    That Kubica interview is really great. As I saw in the video interviews with him lately, he looks as if he’s taken a step and now knows what he wants, he has a target and is going for it.

    But the most interesting part of that interview is where he is being asked about safety in Rallying and his views on restricting engines and the differences between the WRC cars and the S2000 cars. From the discussion here in the Czech republic, after 3 people dying during events for the national rally championship, I think what he says makes a lot of sense.

  7. Girts (@girts) said on 19th September 2012, 7:43

    In both articles, where Kovalainen gets quoted, there is some talk about the Finn’s own future, too.

    It’s pretty obvious that Caterham haven’t managed to meet the expectations in their third year. For sure, Kovalainen didn’t expect much on the first day with a brand new team but I believe that his patience has run out now so he’s looking for other options. The latest rumours are about moving to either McLaren or Ferrari.

    The Daily Mail is the source of the McLaren rumours, which makes me take them with a pinch of salt. Then again, they’re not completely nonsensical and, if I was Kovalainen, I would prefer them over Alonso’s Ferrari.

    As for Ferrari, I can actually understand why they might want Heikki. He’s quick, nice and always loyal to his current team. What I don’t like is that the general perception is that Kovalainen would go to Ferrari solely to be a good number two driver and score more points than Massa is capable of. I am absolutely sure that Heikki’s ambitions ain’t that low. Just like Mark Webber or Nico Rosberg, he wants to win races and become the world champion and definitely wouldn’t give up without a fight, no matter how tough his team mate would be. I don’t believe that Ferrari would keep Heikki back artificially, at least not at the beginning of a season. And it’s not like Alonso is unbeatable. But he has now spent three years with Ferrari, he is their star and, if he wins the 2012 championship, his status in the team will become even stronger. That doesn’t mean that Fernando will get a better equipment but he will have a serious psychological advantage. Alonso’s relationship to the team combined with his skills means it will be very very hard to beat him in the same car.

    I understand the situation Kovalainen is in and that he might not have many options. And I know that he isn’t afraid of any potential team mate. But it would be really sad to see him become ‘the new Massa’ and then get dropped in favour of Vettel or Perez after a year or two. So I hope Kovalainen thinks twice before making the final decision.

  8. McGregski (@mcgregski) said on 19th September 2012, 11:35

    There is a need to control costs in F1 but at the same time the teams spend what they spend to get to where they are. The 3 biggest budget teams are McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull and they are generally the front runners. The smallest budget teams are at the back.

    I think having one budget cap for all is unfair when you have teams that exist purely to race and aim to be front runners so the solution to this would be to have 2-3 tiers of cap.

    If you want to be a front runner then have a £300m cap
    For a Midfield – £150m
    For a ‘Backmarker’ (for want of a better description) – £75m

    Telling the likes of McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari that they need to aim to get their spending down to the same level at Caterham/Marussia would be ridiculous. It would be a bit like telling Manchester United to spend the same as Luton Town. In all sports you have teams that can afford the best players, the biggest stadiums and attract the best sponsors. I don think that you can apply one rule for all in F1.

    You could split the tiers up based on finishing position the previous year.
    WCC results – Places 1-4 can get the top level budget, places 5-8 get the midfield budget and the rest get the lower budget. If you finish well, you get better prize money and the ability to spend more the next season.
    Companies have to legally submit their accounts to the Inland Revenue so you can fairly easily see what they are spending. All the maximum caps on Wind Tunnel time versus CFD are rubbish – how can you really control that? What is to stop a team ‘borrowing’ some windtunnel time from a 3rd party and so on.

    The cap needs to be a financial one that actually fits and isn’t so ridiculous that the teams go against the idea.

    • Isn’t this a model for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer? Putting a budget cap on the smaller teams doesn’t seem to make much sense to me, because if they find money from somewhere (big sponsor or similar) they are effectively barred from using it and growing as a team.

      Instead, I would like to see a kind of ‘tax’ system in place for the higher achievers so that the wealth is better distributed amongst the teams. Yes, win your prize money, but the more profits you earn as a business, the more you are taxed – effectively a redistribution of wealth similar to ‘the real world’. Of course, how his would fit with FOM is anyone’s guess, and also whether or not it would be legal is another.

      Of course the real problem is that we are not starting from a blank sheet of papers. As Wolff mentioned yesterday, he has 500 families to support that already have jobs. The teams are also based in different countries, which makes the paperwork a nightmare.

      There isn’t an easy solution to this, but it does seem to me that a kind of tax for high earners to help support the minnows would be one way to go.

  9. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 19th September 2012, 13:39

    I am open to the idea of a budget cap or RRA but, and this might sound cruel, I am not open to the idea of making F1 a charity. It doesn’t take a degree in economics to understand that F1 is inherently expensive and highly political. The decision to join the sport should not be taken lightly and the level of economic competitiveness should be respected. I don’t want to see the little guy priced out of competing, but I don’t want to turn them into a charity case either. F1 should be a struggle both on and off the track, that’s why we tune in.

    What strikes me is that you never hear about the smaller teams complaining about the economics of it. It’s always the bigger-to-medium players. Caterham just moved home, Marussia have announced they will have KERS from 2013 and HRT built their own custom facility in a different country from where their operations were originally based. You don’t hear them complaining much.

  10. Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 19th September 2012, 13:53

    If you want to be a front runner then have a £300m cap
    For a Midfield – £150m
    For a ‘Backmarker’ (for want of a better description) – £75m

    I’m not being negative, but I can’t see how this would work. It seems as though the grid of twelve teams would be split into three ‘divisions’ or classes, and that’s not very understandable for the general public. And what if a Front-runner team did really badly, such that they were ‘relegated’ to Midfield, they would have less to spend whereas in reality they might need to spend *more* to tegain their Frontrunner position. It would just perpetuate the top teams at the top and the bottom teams at the bottom.
    To be honest, it would be more logical to do it the other way round with successful teams from last year, being able to spend less this year . . . apart from the fact that most of this year’s development costs were spent last year. and we might see teams deliberately doing badly in order to move down a division and thus be able to spend more.
    And I can’t see overseas teams like Ferrari submitting their accounts to the Inland Revenue. Even UK companies have 9 months (I think) to lodge end of year accounts with Companies House, so this spending cap would have to be based on results two or three seasons ago. Sorry. Just can’t see this working.

  11. McGregski (@mcgregski) said on 19th September 2012, 15:34

    Reading the replies and other peoples comments I think I agree, I didn’t think about the “tiering” idea very well and @andrewtanner makes a very fair point in that the back markers aren’t the guys that are complaining so why not just take an average of what the top 4 spend each year and set that as the cap for everyone for the next year?

    This would stop one team running off and throwing everything they can at a season but would keep it fair for everyone else?

    If FOM/FIA are concerned about helping the smaller teams – why not do some/all of these:
    1. Spread the prize money to all places not just the top ten
    2. Have a ‘bonus’ for spending less than x million pounds
    3. Restrict teams to x number of certain new parts over the season (50 front wings, 10 rear wings, 5 sidepod variants and so on)
    4. Tier the team entry fees based on performance – top teams pay more to enter than the small fry (I think they have already announced something around this?)

    Around cost cutting they could also stage the season more sensibly…
    Group races in the part of the world they are in… Canada, Brazil, Austin and potentially New Jersey should be together, All the middle east races together and all of Europe together

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