Could car freeze cure F1’s financial woes?

We touched on the concept in this week’s podcast but I wanted to take it a step further and discuss and have a chat about something I read at James Allen’s blog. If it has been printed before, then apologies for not seeing it but I found the concept interesting.

In a story about a possible Abu Dhabi meeting between the small teams, big teams and Formula One Management, James mentioned that there had been suggestions made by F1’s diminutive participants about how to handle the rising costs without a cost-cap.

The idea was a sort of freeze on development throughout the year. The concept being that teams could spend millions on a front wing design but if you could only make two front wing development upgrades during the season, how much would you actually spend on its development?

If you take this forward, you could assign an allotment of upgrades per season for each measurable component. The key here is “measurable” as the FIA are not overflowing with manpower to measure the change of a stainless steel bolt to titanium somewhere in a suspension etc.

Just throwing out concepts, perhaps you get two front and rear wing changes per season and we already have an engine freeze of five units only. Perhaps you could change the brake componentry and ducting only once during the year and maybe sidepods and suspension or other key aero-sensitive component only once.

The point is, you effectively freeze or semi-freeze the development of the car over the course of a season and this would allow small teams to spend less while big teams could spend as much as they dare given the limited upgrades allowed during the season.

Now, it must be said that this is slightly self-serving for the small teams. We call this continual development the “development war” and the big teams will change 80% of the car by season’s end from what they started with in Australia. This is where the small teams fall short and cannot compete with big-spending teams.

The question is, would it work? Would this be stifling big teams and the advancement of F1 or would it simply slow the spending on a per-year basis? Could a car freeze be something worth discussing? If this would work, it still wouldn’t offset the biggest expense for the small teams which is the new hybrid power unit so is this really an effective solution or is it an additive to a plan that might include a change in prize money distribution to cover the cost of the hybrids?

Hat Tip: James Allen

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