Haug on F1: ‘It cannot be a spending competition’

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So, Formula 1 has about three weeks to get its house in order.

According to Autosport, the FIA has given teams until July 24 to make a deal to cut costs. That’s past the original deadline, the end of June, which swept right by without any accord.

And that means teams aren’t getting to a consensus. Will three more weeks make a difference? Time only will tell.

But you can count Mercedes’ Norbert Haug among those who think it must — that teams need to figure out a way to cap spending.

“This is vital to the future of Formula 1,” Haug told Autosport. “It cannot just be a spending competition. Look at us; we spent three times in 2005 in F1 what we did in 2010. Be it engine, aero or whatever; reducing the costs is vital for the future of F1.

“There are lots of ideas, but we need a common decision,” Haug added. “The FIA needs to be committed to it and FOM needs to be fully committed to it if we are to have 10 teams or more in F1.

“To have those 10 teams plus, we need to have binding rules. For now we have a binding contract. The governing body needs to look at it. That’s not a political statement from Mercedes either, it’s from my heart. It’s what I feel.”

Surely the teams won’t break that husky heart, will they?

They might. At last report, Red Bull — in both its adult and juvenile (ahem, Toro Rosso) forms — are at odds with the rest of the grid. I haven’t seen it put forth explicitly, but I assume Red Bull doesn’t want as much restrictions on spending as other teams. (Where, exactly, does that put Ferrari and McLaren? I’d suspect those two teams are on whatever side they think will most rein in Red Bull while doing the least harm to themselves.)

For me, I just don’t see the big deal. Every sport I can think of — which doesn’t mean every sport, that’s for sure — has some sort of basic spending cap. Normally, it is a salary cap, because in team sports the players are the aero, the engine, the technology. My sense is it should be easy to translate that over to F1. I also know nothing’s easy in F1 and that teams are congenitally designed to shirk the rules.

But would it be so hard to say that a team can’t spend more than $100 million developing, designing, building and maintaining its two cars? And throw a huge — say $500 million — punishment on anyone caught cheating. Maybe instead of trying to write a deal in such detail that it is hard to break or “interpret” the rules, it would be better to get a stick out and show the teams what will happen if they don’t play nice.


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