Where is F1’s social justice?

According to Sauber’s team boss, Monisha Kaltenborn, the Formula 1 system is flawed at the core and this is the reason it is struggling. Kaltenborn told AUTOSPORT that it really is the cost of F1 that’s hurting it:

“For me it starts with what the system and the sport is about – and it is about different teams, not the big teams and the big budgets.

“We don’t have a level playing field, and it starts there.

“We are not for having equality everywhere, not at all. This is a competition and the best win.

“But if the best are simply defined by the financial resources then something is not right because it not about finance, it is about sport.

“If you can set some parameters on the financial side, you will still have the teams with the better engineers making the best car with the best drivers having the best results, but at least it puts teams in a position where they can still fight for something and make it more interesting.

“That is where the problem lies – that the big teams can afford to do things, regardless of whether they are good or bad, and get more out of the sport than the others can.

“That cannot be right.”

Is she right? Keep in mind that the world is on a cultural charge for equity and social justice and regardless of your position on that notion, it does impact the view from many different perspectives. Having a series where financial equity is the prime mover will balance the playing field, according to Monisha, and this will enable F1 to get back to a competitive element and DNA that it was created from. Or will it?

The F1 Strategy Group proposed a new cost cap and the teams seemed keen to discuss the possibility and details but if F1’s real problem the rich versus the…not quite as rich? Has Red Bull’s massive resources spoiled the sport for fans who really want more equity up and down the grid with small teams just as capable of winning titles as McLaren or Ferrari or Mercedes?

I have to admit that i, as a Gen X, am perplexed at the changing notion that no one likes a winner or at least a dominant winner these days. It seems that we want different winners each race and we’d like to see equity from Red Bull to Marussia on the grid. We apparently want more passing and parity in the sport.

It’s an odd notion for me to grasp but that doesn’t make it wrong, just different for me and quite frankly I don’t agree with it but that’s just my opinion. The fact is, what if Sebastian won the last two championships by a point or two? Would that make it better? Would a close victory be fine with you even though he’s won four titles on the trot? So long as they were close fought things, would that be ok? Or is the fact that a 4-time champion creating a real buzzkill for you?

It’s a bit strange to suggest that Formula 1 needs to find this equity within it’s financial moorings or it’s flawed when WRC has been beaten like a rented mule by Sebastien Loeb for seven times and NASCAR has been Jimmy Johnson’s whipping boy for six times of late. Vettel’s 4-time glory is looking meager by comparison and yet Formula 1 is the series taking heat for not having parity and financial restraints to prevent series domination? The logic falls somewhat short on me.

However, given the clamoring for financial equity, reduced budgets and fairness spread across the grid, I guess Formula 1 feels that the have’s and the have-yachts are really feeling the pinch of the financial collapse. Never mind that Formula 1 has always been expensive to participate in and Sauber has made millions doing so in the past.

Regardless and my diatribe, the sport is no good to anyone if the series economics don’t work. Grands prix are disappearing from the calendar due to the inability to pay Formula One Management’s ransom to host a race and teams are finding it necessary to use the paying-driver gambit more  than ever.

Will some sort of cost cap allow the teams to produce a good racing series again? I have one thought…with an aggressive cost cap, no one would be able to afford Adrian Newey so retaining top talent may not be as easy as Monisha thinks it is…he’ll just go design America’s Cup yachts and Formula 1 would be much poorer if that happened.

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