Sustainability is a term you see applied almost everywhere, and to almost anything these days. And rightly so. The definition according to Simple Wikipedia: ‘a process or state can be maintained at a certain level for as long as is wanted.’ And in the case of Formula One, competitive and quality racing is wanted- often and always, though the reality for a number of years is that we are far from a competitive field.
Ross Brawn F1 Managing Director is looking to address this with a number of rather drastic measures that due to the current climate are being implemented and addressed quicker than perhaps first anticipated.
As the saying goes, ‘money makes the world go round’, in F1’s case, it makes the car go faster round the track, the more of it you have… not conducive to a competitive championship.
Brawn is looking to address this with the introduction of a cost cap, covering the expenditure of teams as it related to Car Performance. This is not recent news but the presentation of further reductions to the initially proposed $175 million per team per year is bringing the cost cap back into focus for many.
Brawn is proposing the $175m cap for 2021 to be lowered to $145m, reducing to $140 in 2022 before stabilising at $135m from 2023-25 at which point it will be brought under further scrutiny – the Corona Virus pandemic the catalyst for being these reductions in sooner and to much lower amounts.
The intention of course is to ‘level the playing field more to ensure a more compelling F1 product reaches the market and securing a more sustainable future for current and even future teams looking to enter the sport. Despite the fact many teams do not even spend this much on R&D at the moment the gap between what they are presently spending and what the more affluent teams are will be reduced, with the anticipation that this will reduce the ever-widening gap of on track performance between the teams.
These measures are of course not being taken lightly. We are approaching almost a decade since a driver from outside the Top 3 secured a victory (Kimi in his Lotus in Australia 2013) and the proposal comes alongside many others aimed at making the sport ‘fairer’ and more compelling.
One of the most interesting being the limitation of aerodynamic research using wind tunnels and computing data. The allotted time for this type of research will be split amongst the teams from most to least in reverse order of the previous years championship. In a similar vein to a draft system in many American sports, it is an attempt to offer the worst performing teams a slight advantage over those who have outperformed them.
As expected, not all team feel these proposals and a budget cap in particular are the best solution. Ferrari have raised concerns around how the fact the cap would affect their supply of engines to other teams and also the amount of redundancies and unemployments they would have to make in Italy. Expanding they would need to vastly deplete their workforce and leave hundreds of employees without work.
But even the staunchest of opposition seems to be weakening with the increasing impact of COVID 19 taking its toll on businesses across the globe.
With the revised budget cap proposal being presented to teams imminently, it will be interesting to see what comes out of the next round of discussions.