In Formula 1, there are always strings attached. Each decision seeks an intended outcome and despite if you achieve that outcome or not, there are always varying levels of indirect impact that sometimes wasn’t foreseen or desired.
The most recent case is the proposed 2021 regulation changes. These included new aerodynamic parameters to allow cars to race closely to each other, new tire/wheel sizes and a cost cap (which is more like a resource restriction agreement of old).
For sake of argument let’s assume that everyone is elated with the changes. Let us also assume that the changes will deliver their intended results. The knock-on effect? Red Bull’s Christian Horner explains:
“You have an unrestricted and uncontrolled amount of money that you can spend on research and development across other areas,” said Horner. “For me, I stand by what I said previously.
“It would have been better to have introduced the cap first and then the regulations a year down the line, because then the budget cap would have constrained the amount of spend.
“Next year looks to be our most expensive ever year in F1.”
What you have is unlimited budgets to build the car of 2021 so all that will be required is a new restricted or capped budget to maintain the car. If teams had to design and build their 2021 car under the weight of a cost cap, things may be quite different and the smaller teams may be able to compete but as it is, Mercedes will have a design more bullet proof to see them through the 2021 era of regulations whereas Racing Point may not. Horner continued:
“Now the 2021 regulations are clear, we have an advanced team starting to investigate those regulations,” he said.
“It makes it an incredibly expensive year because we are developing under two types of regs and before the new financial cap comes in as well.
“So 2020 will be an expensive and busy year, certainly off track and on track.”
I have to assume F1’s Ross Brawn thought about this adverse situation and knew that changing the regulations may be good for the sport but if teams have a development year for those new cars with unlimited budgets, the product they put on the grid in 2021 may have baked-in performance disparities due to the amount of resources big teams could bring to the equation.
HAt Tip: Autosport