At the end of 2013 the FIA made a series of announcements about changes coming to the sport. A great deal of coverage has been given to the decision to award double points at the last race of the season and the introduction of a new team from 2015. However, less attention has been paid to the plan to cap team budgets from 2015. One of the biggest hurdles to its success is how to police the cap but F1's boss Bernie Ecclestone has come up with a solution according to an article in the Express written by Christian Sylt.
Ecclestone has proposed offering a £1m (€1m) reward to anyone who has evidence that a team is breaching the budget cap which will be set at around £120m ($200m).
He says that the plan under consideration is to "give a million Euro to any whistleblower whose knowledge is proved to be accurate. We will then say to the team that the following year you will lose three of the highest results that you have scored. Then let's see if they want to cheat."
He adds "we have approved the budget cap. It is going to happen. Everybody agreed to 200 million. What hasn't been agreed is what is in the 200 million. Unless we include everything I am sure people will find ways around it. It's going to be difficult."
Ecclestone stresses that the reward would be paid to anyone who has valid evidence, not just F1 personnel. It wouldn't be the first time that members of the public have played a part in deciding the outcome of the F1 championship.
In 2007 McLaren's chief designer Mike Coughlan was handed an 800-page blueprint of Ferrari's car and his wife Trudy asked a photocopying shop in Surrey to make a duplicate. An eagle-eyed employee tipped off Ferrari which led to McLaren being fined £60m and thrown out of the championship for spying.
F1's accelerating costs have pushed teams to the brink. Last year several drivers complained about not being paid including former F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen, who said he was owed millions by Lotus. Raikkonen has joined Ferrari this year whilst Lotus and Marussia, another of F1's most embattled outfits, were listed as "subject to confirmation" on the 2014 entry list which was released.
There is currently a self-policed resource restriction in F1 which limits team spending on key areas such as computer simulations and testing. However, several outfits, including last year's champions Red Bull Racing, do not take part in it and have historically opposed a spending cap due to their blockbuster budgets.
A budget cap was previously proposed in 2009 by former FIA president Max Mosley. His suggestion of setting a £30m spending limit led to a threat from the teams to set up a rival series – a move which was dropped when Mosley agreed to retire. There was an exodus of teams regardless as BMW, Honda and Toyota left F1 in 2009.
"Max was a bit silly with 30 million," says Ecclestone adding that even though the limit is being increased, he doesn't think it will prevent teams from pulling out. "Honda, Toyota and whatever, never stopped because there was another nought added to their budget. Whether it was 300 or 400 million didn't make any difference. They stopped because they weren't winning."
It raises the question of whether the budget cap will ever actually be introduced. Well-placed insiders who have their eyes on the £1m reward are likely to be keeping their fingers' crossed.
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