Not our job to level the playing field, top teams say

2014 F1 season

Start, Circuit de Catalunya, 2014Formula One’s leading teams say the fair distribution of prize money in the sport is a matter for the promoter to decide, not them.

As the smaller teams face greater pressure from rising costs, the generous payments given to the richest competitors, regardless of where they finish, has become a focus of the debate over F1′s finances.

Asked whether the competition in the sport could be fair when the top teams are earning so much more, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: “That’s more of a question for Bernie [Ecclestone].”

“Our job as individuals that represent our teams is to do the best job we can to represent the companies that we work for. So of course you’re going to cut the most aggressive deal that you can.

“And it’s down to the promoter to decide who he values and who he’s going to distribute his money to and how he’s going to distribute that. He’s chosen to distribute it the way it is, the shareholders have all agreed with that and that’s the way it is.”

Horner pointed out that the remuneration for the lower finishing positions in the championship is more generous now than it was a few years ago:

“If you take into account that a team finishing tenth in the world championship is actually earning more than Red Bull were when they came into the sport in 2005, finishing seventh or sixth in the world championship. So the revenues have gone up, The revenues, the share, is of a bigger pie that has been developed, obviously, over the years.

“But it’s very difficult to put us on the spot to answer those kind of questions because our interest is obviously to represent the teams and companies that we do as best we can.”

Mercedes’ executive director Toto Wolff gave a similar view: “Do you think it’s our agenda to close the gap between the teams? I think it is not my agenda.”

“My agenda is to win races and win the world championship and each of those ladies’ and gentlemen’s agenda is to be the most competitive.”

“It is also an income question,” he added. “Obviously we know that income is spread in different ways – just or not right I do not want to comment – but the fact is that some of the bigger teams have an almost break-even operation.”

“And due to sponsorship income, due to FOM income, rights income, so the question is do you want to spend your money and in which way you want to spend your money I guess it’s down to the team and this is why it’s so complicated.”

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34 comments on Not our job to level the playing field, top teams say

  1. Mouse_Nightshirt (@mouse_nightshirt) said on 22nd May 2014, 17:54

    Really? Smacks a little bit of selfishness here. Of course the top teams are going to say “Well it’s not our problem”.

    What happened to the camaraderie between teams?

    • ME4ME (@me4me) said on 22nd May 2014, 18:15

      Got to agree with Horner tho. It’s really up to Bernie, CVC, FOM and the FIA to make the sport more fair to the participants.

      • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 23rd May 2014, 2:29

        @me4me try that with the teams lobbying so hard…

        It’s up to all to work for the sport. Because if the costs keep raising, then they’ll have no one to compete agains.

        They are not enjoying being so far away form Mercedes, so why do other teams have to endure that forever, with a tenth of the resources, with prices going up? there must be a balance… there cannot be faster guys without slower ones…

    • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 22nd May 2014, 18:17

      Died as soon as Ecclestone started waving money under certain teams’ noses

      • Constant said on 22nd May 2014, 21:16

        @mazdachris

        Please. I know blaming Ecclestone for everything is the cool thing to do these days, but it’s ridiculous to believe that the he’s the reaoson huge teams that invest hundreds of millions aren’t willing to voluntarily lose their advantage.

    • American F1 said on 23rd May 2014, 15:37

      Of course it “smacks of selfishness”…that’s called competition. Horner is absolutely spot on, it’s not their problem. At the end of the day, however much we like to romaniticize them, these “teams” are just businesses and businesses are in the business of making money, otherwise what’s the point? The teams make money by being successful; do you expect Mercedes to slow down at the end and let a Marussia win in the interest of “fairness”, because they’ve never won before? No?
      Then why would the bigger teams simply give away the rewards they reap from their efforts? F1 revenues and their distribution are solely in the purview of Mr. Ecclestone.

  2. Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 22nd May 2014, 18:00

    In a way, it’s a good thing that it isn’t their job, otherwise the sport may be even more corrupt.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 23rd May 2014, 11:23

      In a sense I agree with that @vettel1, on the other hand, saying this

      Our job as individuals that represent our teams is to do the best job we can to represent the companies that we work for. So of course you’re going to cut the most aggressive deal that you can.

      “And it’s down to the promoter to decide who he values and who he’s going to distribute his money to and how he’s going to distribute that. He’s chosen to distribute it the way it is, the shareholders have all agreed with that and that’s the way it is.”

      Means that they really have no place in the Strategic group as it is currently made up. Because such a group can only be viable if the teams that are in it, are there to represent the whole field. For me it perfectly shows why the concept of the Strategy group is completely amiss

  3. Neil (@neilosjames) said on 22nd May 2014, 18:52

    Fair point. No one in their right mind would expect Man City, Real Madrid or Barcelona to come out and say they’re going to voluntarily stop spending big to let the smaller teams catch up. Can’t expect F1 teams to do it either.

    Only way it’ll happen is if it’s forced. Which seems rather difficult to do.

    • Guelph (@guelph) said on 22nd May 2014, 18:59

      You control spending at the top by flattening the payouts. The top teams spend as much has they do because they can. They aren’t forced to do it.

      If a team is only going to get $100 Million for first, they aren’t going to spend $400 Million to do it.

      Also by flattening the payouts, the grid is more likely to remain full as more teams would see F1 as financially viable.

      • KoosOos (@koosoos) said on 22nd May 2014, 19:15

        that is where you are wrong for teams like Red Bull it is a advertisement and for teams like Merc and Ferrari it is research they will spend that tipe of money. I few months ago there was a peace that Red Bull spend over 1.3 Bilj on there two teams in the last 5 years. They are willing to spend that tipe of money on the sport

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 23rd May 2014, 11:24

      Sure, but then we must conclude that installing a working group that consists of these teams to guide and decide on the rules is utterly wrong @neilosjames

  4. Steven said on 22nd May 2014, 18:54

    Even if no true cost-cutting measures are put in place, there needs to be something done about the distribution of money. I don’t recall all the details but I know that established teams are heavily favoured whereas most mid to backmarker teams get so little in comparison. Once this is done, let’s re-evaluate and see how the big teams feel about getting much less prize money.

    Ultimately, F1 needs to pick a direction: either go with the pinnacle of technology and the costs associated with it, or regulate it much further so that it’s closer to a spec series. F1 being what it is, I would expect the former but I generally enjoy races more when it’s the latter. Anything in between is just half-assed. I feel like the 2014 rule changes were the best opportunity to implement a direction, but it appears FIA/FOM/F1/etc. is as confused as ever.

    That’s my take, but I don’t know all the facts and details.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 23rd May 2014, 0:05

      I think putting the teams in charge of prize money distribution is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house. This is a task for those governing the sport. That said, I’m not sure if something like this would be voted on and shot down by the big teams anyway, or if a better distribution could be put in place by those in charge simply because they are in charge and will give the big teams no choice.

      As to controlling costs, or being more fair to lesser teams, etc etc I am intrigued by something Horner said last year which is that he thinks a workable solution to the high costs for everyone in F1 is that the top teams should be able to sell not just engines but also chassis to the lesser/newer teams. That would help the bigger teams that are in some cases at break-even, and the smaller teams wouldn’t have to spend money building their own cars from scratch, and could become more competitive more quickly which would help them attract sponsors as they would more frequently be in the fight. In a way that would make it more like a spec series but without the cars being pretty much identical between makers ie. still pinnacle-ish.

  5. KoosOos (@koosoos) said on 22nd May 2014, 19:01

    Do you realty think giving the bottom team more money will make them more competitive. It will force the big three teams (Ferrari, Merc,Red Bull) to spend even more money and make it impossible for teams like Mclaren and Williams to compete with them dew to finance reasons. All it is going to do is make smaller teams last longer.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 22nd May 2014, 19:14

      @koosoos

      All it is going to do is make smaller teams last longer.

      Good. That’s exactly what needs to happen.

      • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 23rd May 2014, 7:20

        @keithcollantine I think you’re missing @koosoos point. Smaller teams lasting longer won’t do the sport any good if they have no chance of winning at all. And it harms the midfield teams in that they will probably be the ones to get squeezed out of the financial equation too. It kind of rewards mediocrity, actually.

        • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 23rd May 2014, 12:17

          It kind of rewards mediocrity

          I beg to differ @journeyer. Rewarding mediocrity would be to distribute prize money in favour of lower finishing positions, which is not what anyone is suggesting. All that is being suggested is a more even distribution, which doesn’t compound the deficit smaller teams already face.

          By having little to no finical reward relative to the big teams, there is little to no opportunity to close the gap to the big teams. In that sense, the cycle is everlasting and very hard to propel oneself out of. And that only serves to stifle the competition, which is surely not what anyone wants.

          I would love to see smaller teams able to compete on merit with the established powerhouses of the F1 fraternity. But that is a folly of the imagination provided the playing field is not somewhat equalised.

          • KoosOos (@koosoos) said on 23rd May 2014, 15:07

            I agree that the playing feel needs to equalised, but giving them more money is not the answer. If you want the teams to stay longer in F1 then sure give them more money. If you want the playing field level then we have too look at other ways to do it but at his moment there is no way to level the playing field as long as constructors is in the sport and to tell you the truth the playing field has never been on the same level in the sport. I have posted the
            statstics in a previous post to show how ineven the playing field have been
            threw the history of the sports.

  6. BJ (@beejis60) said on 22nd May 2014, 19:15

    “If you take into account that a team finishing tenth in the world championship is actually earning more than Red Bull were when they came into the sport in 2005, finishing seventh or sixth in the world championship. So the revenues have gone up, The revenues, the share, is of a bigger pie that has been developed, obviously, over the years.”

    And so have the costs, you twit.

  7. Jimbo Hull (@kartingjimbo) said on 22nd May 2014, 19:17

    The teams simply do what they do because that’s the rules, if it was spelt out otherwise by the powers that be then there would be no need to have this conversation. As put above other sports and their competing teams don’t help each other, they’re competitors at the end of the day I’m afraid.

    I understand in F1 it is a little different due to how much money there is needed to even be apart of the top 10, so for the good of the sport it’s better to have a well populated grid. The criticism from small teams about what goes on at the top half of the grid should be aimed at the people in power because well quite simply that they have the power to make it ‘right’. I do struggle with the concept that certain teams get more money regardless of where they finish, but I bet there’s a lot of stuff to that we don’t even know about.

  8. PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend) said on 22nd May 2014, 19:28

    State the obvious. It is most definitely NOT their job to distribute the revenues more fairly. It is in the hands of FOM, CVC. Which means to say that no smaller team is getting any more money. If only the FIA hadn’t sold the commercial rights for peanuts back in 2002…

  9. For Sure (@forsure) said on 22nd May 2014, 19:31

    In a way, I’d like to see the non-Strategy Group teams decamp to some other series. Join WEC P1s or shake up IndyCar. Then we’ll see what Bernie and the remaining teams have to say about costs when every race looks like the 2005 US GP.

    • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 23rd May 2014, 7:22

      @forsure There was a reason the 2009 revolt fizzled out – because when push came to shove, they didn’t have the guts to actually bolt.

      • For Sure (@forsure) said on 23rd May 2014, 7:48

        @journeyer That’s true, but they were trying to get everybody to work together. Now the FOM and FIA have explicitly split the teams up into haves and have-nots, so to speak. I’d say Sauber, FI, Caterham and Marussia have less to lose by walking out today than FOTA did in 2009.

  10. MoneyMadness said on 22nd May 2014, 20:36

    Money Mad, Greedy, Sloths. These guys gotta hear themselves talk ! I like how Totto Wolf says finding ways to share the prize money amoung all the tesms equally is NOT part of his mandate. I fell off my chair laughing at that. Get real: EVERYTHING related to performance, regulations and MONEY is related to their mandates as team managers and team directors. The 5 or 6 small teams should take FOM, FIA, and the F1 promoter “du jour” to the European Union’s Criminal Courts for breaking laws related to unfair competition ! But, sadly they won’t because they’re so starved for funds, that they’ll tow the line until they go bankrupt. Shame on us fans who don’t DEMAND more equal funding for ALL teams instead of giving it ALL to Ferrari !

    • OOliver said on 23rd May 2014, 0:38

      Sadly, Wolff is absolutely right. He wants to win races, how the money is shared is the responsibility of those who make the rules.
      F1 is like any other competitive environment, the winner gets more.
      The rules make the sport expensive.
      Make the cars simpler to build. Reduce the electronics and sensors.
      Make use of a standard floor and diffuser, then cut off unnecessary appendages and you have greatly reduced the scope for aerodynamic trickry and windtunnel research.

      But dont force every team to be poor, it is worthwhile chasing success and not complacency.

  11. rsp123 (@rsp123) said on 22nd May 2014, 21:54

    Formula one is now dangerously close to professional wrestling in terms of its status as a sport. When some teams get a generous share of revenues win or lose, and one team has a veto on the technical regulations (!), and all the teams have to sign differing agreements with the promoter in order to enter, it begins to look more like an entertainment business deal than a sport. No wonder audiences are declining – the recent move to pay-to-view notwithstanding. It all looks a bit shabby, and feels as if the fans are being milked, not respected.

  12. MoneyMadness said on 22nd May 2014, 23:09

    SPORT = Equal Opportuity To Win

    Formula 1 is NOT a Sport

  13. Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 23rd May 2014, 1:30

    “The distribution of the money is not our responsibility… until it’s time to claim what money we want. Then we’ll grab the biggest piece of the pie we can.”

    *slow clap* :|

  14. James (@jimbobian) said on 23rd May 2014, 8:54

    I disagree with everyone who says it’s not up to the top teams and claim we can’t expect them to act in any other way than selfishly. Take a look at tennis, the top four players are demanding that the prize money paid out at earlier rounds of tournaments and on the lower tennis circuits be increased preferentially over their own. Even as multi-millionaires they recognize how difficult it is to make it by as a 100-something ranked tennis player and that squeezing those players out of the sport will be to its detriment. F1 needs to wake up and realize that it could very easily do the same.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 23rd May 2014, 11:29

      I agree with what you say @jimbobian. And we saw it in several US sports series where the teams/clubs involved got together and agreed on some form of redistribution to keep the sport healthy and functional. Because if one looks at the long term prospects of their self interest, then having a sport to compete in should be the key value to protect.

  15. Coreblimey said on 23rd May 2014, 11:06

    It’s simple ,
    Turkey’s don’t vote for christmas !

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