FIA get serious about cutting costs in F1

If you’ve ever created a personal budget, you know that cutting costs can be difficult. If your local town, city or state government were to swoop in and create the budget for you and then monitor your spending levels, that would even be more difficult. That is basically what the FIA are suggesting in the latest comments from Jean Todt.

According to AUTOSPORT, Todt is getting strong on his desire to create a way to mandate cost restraints on teams in Formula 1. The goal is to protect the smaller teams, even the playing field of innovation and competition and keep the balance sheets sustainable during the global economic crunch.

It’s been tried before and teams such as Red Bull and Ferrari haven’t been too keen on the FIA peeking at their books or managing the way they spend money and on what they spend it on. However, many teams have asked for assistance as they are struggling to keep afloat, in the black and on the grid. Sauber’s Monisha Kaltenborn said:

“We just need to have, and we’ve always said it, a federation that is very actively involved in this [Resource Restriction Agreement], because that gives the whole system credibility,” she said.

“It’s just like with the technical rules. The credibility comes because our federation is policing it and that’s what we need to do over here.”

The challenge in the past has been the need for unanimous consent from the teams but the FIA created a new F1 strategy group consisting of 18 members with six votes from the teams, six votes from the FIA and six votes from the commercial rights holders. This group does not have to have unanimous consent and Todt is now ready to use it to drive through the cost-cutting measures. Todt said:

“It will be on the agenda, at the first meeting when we are involved, to bring in cost cutting. “I can guarantee you the FIA will vote in favour of cost cutting. Then we will see.”

So how do you determine how much Red Bull is spending, how much they can spend and where they can spend it? Is the inequity of the Formula 1 grid a detriment to the sport or is it the way of life in the world’s most advanced form of racing?

Some alternatives that have been suggested is customer cars which means that Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes could sell chassis to smaller teams in order to make them more competitive. Other suggestions have included such things as teams running three cars instead of two. Would either of these scenarios work for Formula 1 and reduce costs?

Some criticism has been laid at the feet of Todt himself for ushering in the most sweeping regulatory changes in decades for the 2014 season. Teams have had to spend enormously on new engine development and a new Energy Recovery System that harvests waste energy to be redeployed as power to the car. Some suggest that the engine costs alone could put some of the small teams out of business.

There is no easy answer but perhaps starting the dialog will be a good first step. At the rate the FIA, F1 and teams move, perhaps the economy will have recovered by the time they reach an agreement.

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