It’s a conundrum we’ve discussed many times before, how do you institute a cost-cap in Formula 1 with massive manufacturers such as Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault? According to Franz Tost, much of the teeth-gnashing is unnecessary.
“I have been fighting for years for a budget cap and it is coming now hopefully,” said Tost exclusively to Autosport. “I think it is doable.
“There were always arguments that you cannot control it, which is nonsense. You can control everything.
“The FIA, and FOM, whoever, just have to start [thinking] from the very beginning onwards about how to control it.
“If I decided, I would send to every team a person to control all the financial statements every week or every month. That’s it.
“Like now, for example, on the technical side you can control everything.
“We are not even allowed to test without passing crash tests and all this kind of stuff.
“So why shouldn’t you be able to control [budgets]? This is nonsense, you can control everything if you want.”
I understand his point but I might argue that having 20 dedicated FIA certified accountants on location at each team breeds intellectual property concerns, confidentiality risks, and other concerns over just how much these accountants know about motorsport programs, building race cars and managing team finances. Also, would Christian Horner want an FIA person rummaging through his team’s balance sheet or P&L? I wouldn’t.
Now, there is no doubt the big manufacturers can absorb a $400 million investment through marketing, R&D and other channels but a team like Williams, Sauber or even Toro Rosso cannot, that’s not their budget.
What does Tost tell Autosport the logical conclusion is regarding this disparity?
“There are three top teams, and the rest are in another league.
“Because if you look to the results, the cars behind the three top teams are 20-40 seconds behind, and the commercial rights holder must find the way, so that we have interesting races.
“Fortunately this year and also last year [Sebastian] Vettel is fighting against [Lewis] Hamilton for the championship because otherwise people would not watch Formula 1 any more, because it’s boring.
“We must be aware about this and what we have to achieve is that a minimum of three or four drivers, and five or six teams, are fighting for the championship, and the championship is decided in the last race and not a couple of races before.”
Effectively he’s suggesting we really have a two-tier racing series. The have’s and the Have Yacht’s as they used to say. I’m not sure a cost-cap is a doable thing and I have stated that it seems to me the costs could be capped or at least frivolous if you write a very tight regulation formula that reduces the ROI for overspending. It’s not a perfect solution but it seems much more doable than planting accountants inside teams.
Hat Tip: Autosport