Who’s afraid of Toto Wolff? Dietrich Mateschitz?


I’m not sure whether to bill this as an all-Austrian smackdown of epic proportions, or a battle akin to pitting Lauda, Rindt or Berger against Patrick Friesacher, Jo Gartner or even Karl Oppitzhauser.

Williams part-owner Toto Wolff can’t quite rival Dietrich Mateschitz’s Red Bull empire.

Williams hasn’t been in the same postal code as Red Bull Racing on track since 2008 either, and may not be any time soon.

The F1 community met in Monaco on Monday to discuss the Resource Restriction Agreement, F1’s cost-cutting programme that currently seems to more or less operate on a “scout’s honour, sir, pinky swear” basis.

According to a German-language article in Auto Motor und Sport, Toto Wolff in particular has his eyes on the Red Bull team and their spending. The article says that Red Bull and Toro Rosso on Monday opposed a move that would enforce a version of the RRA mooted at Singapore last year. That deal would apparently limit teams to 315 employees and 30 million euros in outsourcing – with the ability to mix and match those funds in either direction.

(My first thought was: “any employee, or an employee with a perceived ‘average’ wage of $XYZ?” Still haven’t found that answer, sorry.)

Christian Horner has said in the past, to Autosport magazine among others, that he does not think the FIA should monitor teams’ spending — or rather try to!

The linked article also says that those in favour could force the motion with a 75-percent majority, but neglects to mention if every other team is unanimous. It does say, however, that Williams unsurprisingly supports the bill, and the magazine talks to Toto Wolff. (My translations.)

We are in favour of an upper budget limit. You can achieve it with a few additional cutbacks in wind-tunnel time and among personnel.
Red Bull is earning an estimated 250 million euros in Formula 1. That means a budget cap would earn Mr. Mateschitz 100 million euros. So we’d be doing him a favour.
His model of boundless spending is already not working anymore, because the current rules practically neuter the advantages of a bigger budget. The results of the first six races ought surely to have convinced him of that.

In his native tongue, not unlike several of his countrymen in F1, it seems Toto Wolff is not a man to mince words. Had to do a double take, but that is at least what he is quoted as saying.

Of course, Red Bull’s current F1 prize money earnings – officially unknown in scope, but Wolff would have a better idea than most – must be sky high after the team’s 2011 hegemony. There’s no guarantee that would last forever.

The Concorde talks are prompting a lot of jockeying in F1 more generally, as you’ve probably read. Not least from supposed problem children Mercedes.

As for the RRA, how do engines fit into this? What’s a fair customer engine price, especially for the all-new 2014 power-trains? What can teams realistically pay, are the engines happening at all? Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault can’t be happy about having to run parallel projects amid the uncertainty, while PURE must not even know what to start work on. And in return, if the engine providers’ cause is heard, what does that mean for “customer” teams like Red Bull and McLaren – do they worry about effectively becoming outgunned?

Meanwhile, there’s that pesky flotation deal in the pipeline. Wolff seems to think the sale of F1 (how do you sell F1? The world’s gone wobbly…) will ultimately be the prime mover that coerces some form of consensus – which theoretically must be reached this summer.

Bernie will not want to do the flotation without an official “World Championship” status. There needs to be an independent body that writes and enforces the rules. Here, everyone in F1 should ask themselves if we want a similar situation to the DTM.

Just FYI: For financial reasons (as ever), DTM split from the FIA and sought official championship status from Germany’s Deutsche Motor Sport Bund (DMSB) instead. This was not granted by the DMSB owing to the proportion of races outside Germany, hence why DTM no longer means “Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft” (German touring car championship) but rather Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters.

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