Amidst strong criticism over Formula 1’s current financial situation, the FIA president, Jean Todt, has come under some fire for not doing more to help the small teams remain solvent and on the grid. Caterham managed to rally for the final race of the season but Marussia were not so lucky and now Force India, Lotus and Sauber are all very frustrated and offering warnings of their own over their future in the series.
Todt says that there are a few key areas that he is going to focus on in the coming months: reduce costs, optimize ‘the show’, make powertrains cheaper for private teams and to ensure all parties stayed in the sport.
Former FIA technical adviser, Tony Purnell, said:
“We were probably too ambitious. One policy would be to set the sale price of these new engines. It’s a very small move, and people wouldn’t really notice it, but it would be hugely important.
“Without doubt, the engine bill used to be one of the biggest headaches for any small team and I’m sure it still is. To me it is crystal clear that it is the FIA’s job to do it.”
Todt explained to Reuters that he is renewing efforts to revisit the idea of cost-capping elements of F1:
“I am going to fight about the price of the engines for the small teams,” said Todt. “I will do the best. I cannot guarantee the result but I will really get into that.
“On engines I think we can find a solution. I am optimistic we will get something,”
Todt and the FIA, along with Mercedes and Renault, were very keen to introduce a new hybrid engine format and this, at the time, was challenged as a real potential cost increase for teams. Regardless, the FIA approved the move but now Todt says that it has played a large role in F1’s current financial crisis:
“The average price of the engines is $30 million, which is too high,” Todt said.
“They went roughly from about $18 million to $30 million, which is too much – as it is a 70 per cent increase on top of everything.
“I am going to fight about the price of the engines for the small teams in order for them to have a more affordable situation.
“I will do the best I can. I cannot guarantee the results but I will get into that.”
One of the criticisms being made is that the FIA should have capped the price manufacturers could demand for their new power units. That’s a difficult position given the R&D costs incurred which is usually attached to the price of a product so it’s no wonder the manufacturers were not keen on this idea.
However, some argue that this was something the big teams wanted and even threatened to leave F1 if they didn’t get it. If this was the case, the small teams weren’t asking for these new, expensive engines so the manufacturers should have shouldered the costs of developing them, not their customers.
Regardless, the FIA now seem concerned over the allegations of their impotency in this current climate and now Todt has decided to revisit cost-capping and parts lists in order to save F1 from itself.