Budgets and parc fermé regulation shaking up paddock

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

A couple of interesting stories out of Montreal this weekend as Formula 1 assembles for the Canadian Grand Prix. The first is centered around the 2021 regulation changes and in particular, the cost-cap concept that has been spoken about for the past several seasons.

A cost cap of $175million per year is rumored to be the 2021 season per team budget which means that Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull are going to need to cut their budgets substantially. The regulation is set for a five-year period starting in 2021 with a possible dry-run in 2020 in which the teams would be invited to open their books to the FIA’s scrutiny.

Interestingly, there are a few key elements of team spending that are outside of the budget cap including driver salaries, marketing expenses and any costs associated with engines. Notice that the engine expense is not included. I submit that it’s because the hybrid engines are enormously expensive and no one wants to address the elephant in the room.

F1 says they believe that it is measurable by the FIA and that penalties would be massive for breaking the rules. The question is, what impact would shaving $80M out of the Mercedes budget? Staff reduction? Less effective chassis design? An impossible regulation to accurately police as costs could be buried in other departments within Mercedes, Ferrari or Renault? For me, there are a host of questions I would have about how to police this cost cap idea.

The second talking point this weekend is focused on changing the Parc Fermé conditions to reduce workload over a weekend and make room for more races on the calendar. The concept would find the parc fermé lockdown on car changes right after Friday practice.

The current rules place cars in parc fermé just before qualifying on Saturday but the new changes mean the weekend work would be shortened and perhaps time gained and less wear and tear on personnel. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff wasn’t too keen about the new concept.

“We are not keen on the parc ferme format from Friday to Sunday,” he said.

“There’s no motor racing formula out there that doesn’t allow the cars to be touched over the weekend and I don’t think we should start with F1, the pinnacle of motor racing.

“You open up a can of worms with penalties, because cars will end up in the wall, will need to be rebuilt.

“The idea of how we can add more variability, unpredictability, have more cars breaking down – we will achieve the contrary.

“We will spend more time and research in the virtual world, more cars on dynos to make them last because we know we can’t take them apart over three days.

“I don’t think this is something we should touch.

“There’s many other areas that make sense but this one not for us.”

The paddock had mixed reviews with Toro Rosso’s Franz Tost joining Wolff in their concern but Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Haas F1’s Guenther Steiner were open to the idea if F1 wants to add more races to the calendar.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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