With Ferrari’s resistance to moving the goal posts on next year’s proposed budget cap from $175 million to $145m and McLaren, as well as other teams, looking to a further drop to $100m, things are getting a bit chippy in the press over who is seeing the new reality and existential threat to Formula 1, via the Covid-19 virus impact, and who isn’t.
Ferrari are not keen to reduce the budget cap any further than the previously proposed amount and feel that making hurried, reactionary decisions isn’t the best way forward. McLaren boss, Zak Brown, says the team isn’t seeing reality.
“I’m almost at a loss what you say to that [Ferrari’s arguments].
“I think we all recognize that in modern times we are going through the biggest crisis the world has seen. You have countries shut down, industries shut down and to not be in a hurry to address what’s going on I think is a critical mistake.
“It’s living in denial and I think you would find pretty much every president or prime minister or CEO around the world was operating in a hurry to tackle this issue head-on. To take our time I think is a very poor leadership strategy.”
There is a case to be made for rapid response but one could argue that this methodology doesn’t apply to every facet of life, business or sport. Immediacy is certainly the overwhelming sentiment right now for F1 and the teams that participate so Brown’s comments are born from genuine concern for immediate remedies.
On the flip side of that coin, Ferrari have to be fully aware of the severity of the situation as Italy was among some of the most impacted nations in the world with the Covid-19 virus. There is little doubt that Mattia Binotto’s comments weren’t divorced from this reality.
What is possibly more germane to Binoto’s argument is that making truck loads of decisions, which the sport is currently attempting to do out of fiduciary responsibility and personal accountability, is not easy to do and some of those decisions that were slated for the 2021 season should be reconsidered and not ushered through right now as the sport is simply trying to stage its first race in 2020 and do so with safe measures in place.
Technical regulation changes equals big expense in new car design, budget caps are critical to the operation of a team and lowering them may be seen as a way to stave off the red ink on the 2020 balance sheet but is it the right thing for the long term when things recover to normalcy?
There certainly has to be a hierarchy of decision starting with what the series will do tomorrow, what teams can do to keep the lights on and how races might begin in what’s left of the 2020 season. After achieving those immediate goals, looking at the proposed 2021 regulation changes would seem to be the secondary issues.
I think a strong case could be made, and Brown is perhaps making it, that the proposed 2021 regulation changes are inexorably tied to the current situation and for McLaren, that very well may be the case but it may not be the case for Ferrari. It is most likely all very contextual.
One can’t overlook the competitive advantage other teams might see in forcing all teams, even Ferrari, to a much lower budget cap in the hopes that they will then be capable of being competitive with the Italian team…or Mercedes for that matter. This is yet to be proven, however, but at this point, Williams, McLaren, Renault, Racing Point and Alpha Tauri might be hoping the budget cap will be the grand equalizer they need to run with the top teams.
Hat Tip: ESPN