McLaren against budget cap increase but what about engines?

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At the dawn of a new season, the teams are toiling away with production and fabrication. They are test-firing their engines and working as hard as they can to prepare for the new 2022 campaign.

It’s a quiet time for fans as they rustle through the holidays and wonder what will happen with Lewis Hamilton who is also quiet. They contemplate F1’s upcoming season, debate regulations and wonder what the new FIA president will do regarding Abu Dhabi and many other issues such as Michael Masi, race stewarding, COVID and much more.

Behind all that noise there is a cost cap in 2022 of $140m and with a proposed six Sprint Race feature to the longest calendar in F1 history, some teams are suggesting they need a budget increase to accommodate such a demanding schedule due to potential Sprint race damage.

McLaren boss Zak Brown says they are adamantly against increasing the budget cap for teams despite the increased amount of Sprint races.

Quote from

“Some want to take the opportunity to raise the cost cap, a few of the teams,” Brown said.
“We’re adamantly opposed to raising the cost cap on anything. So we’re going to need to work through that issue.”

In 2021, teams were given an allowance of $450,000 for taking part in the three sprint races, as well as an additional $100,000 for accident damage.

But Brown said that “a couple of teams” were looking to raise the budget cap “by a ridiculous number” for 2022 despite the limited number of first-lap incidents.

“The reality is there was very little damage last year,” Brown said. “When this was proposed to us a year ago, they did a report on the damage that was incurred on opening laps, and it was also in the report that showed there was very little damage.

“We came into this thinking there could be very little damage, [and it] turns out there was very little damage.

“And yet a couple of the teams still want to take the opportunity to raise the budget by a ridiculous number, by almost, ‘well, what if I write off a car every race?’ From what I’ve seen, I saw more crashes in practice than I have in the sprint races.

“It might be new to some teams to actually have to manage a budget, but I think that’s in the spirit of the sport, so you can certainly match the revenue to the expense and resolve that.

“But I think the revenue will grow over time, and I think we need to be very careful to be fiscally sustainable, that certain teams take the opportunity to try and raise that all the time. We need to resist that.”

All of that seems like a reasoned position but what surprises me more is not just the potential for damage but the increased wear and tear on their engines and as they allowed only three during the season, how does this additional mileage play into their strategy?

There may very well be data the teams have that I certainly don’t see and that data could suggest that I am worrying for nothing as the engines are fully capable of delivering a 23-race season with six Sprint races on top of that.

Perhaps I am living in the past when the engines were more brittle and perhaps the sport has made a much larger step in engine reliability that I am simply not accounting for.

While that may very well be true, I am defending myself on the fact that Valtteri Bottas had numerous new engines introduced into his inventory garnering serious penalties. Even Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen had additional engines brought into their inventory garnering penalties of their own.

For me, that’s an imbalance of regulations versus the demand asked of the teams. If you consider that this year will see a homologation of the engines that will be frozen until 2025 and these new engines must use at least 10% advanced sustainable ethanol or E10, it seems to me there are potential issues already and the season hasn’t even begun.

I hope I am wrong on this and that I can look back at this article in 12 months and chuckle at how ridiculous Iw was to worry but I’ve been watching F1 for a very long time and it is these types of things that can hamstring the series throughout the season. Let’s hope that isn’t the case in 2022.

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