Wolff backs Mosley's budget proposal

07/07/2015
NEWS STORY

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff supports Max Mosley's proposal of a budget cap as a means of aiding some F1 teams.

Writing in the Telegraph last week, former FIA president Mosley warned that the sport is heading for a "major crisis" unless it addresses some of the challenges facing the sport.

Most important of all, according to Mosley, is the spending gap between the sport's haves and have-nots, a situation that cannot be addressed under the current system, yet if it isn't threatens the existence of several current teams.

Of the 500m prize money in 2014, Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull received around 46%. Indeed, due to its status in F1, the Italian team is guaranteed around 65m before a wheel has turned.

Last week, Mosley suggested that teams that opt for a (suggested) budget cap of 60m should be allowed significantly more technical freedom. "Overnight it would make the grid more competitive and more interesting for the public," he argued.

"I think Max's idea is interesting," Wolff told Forbes. "If you want to follow budget caps and you are prepared to follow a budget cap you could have a bit more freedom in the development. It is an interesting idea.

"The devil lies in the detail," he admitted. "It's about how to implement it in the rules with the current governance structure because you need majority agreement."

Whilst one of the sport's biggest spenders, Mercedes F1 programme is sustainable, thanks largely to Wolff's management.

"85% of our costs are covered by cashflow," said Wolff, who agreed a new commercial deal with the F1 Group in 2013. "We are nearly at break even."

Looking down the pitlane, particularly at the teams known to be under threat, and not forgetting Caterham and Marussia, he says: "If you look at the historic context, teams have come and gone. Actually at the moment we have a very stable environment. The teams which have gone were all the very new teams and this is a high entry barrier sport. So if you look at the mid-field teams, Sauber, Force India, Lotus have been there for a long time."

While it is claimed that it is the cost of the new (for 2014) formula and the inevitable rise in engine costs, Wolff disputes this.

"The old engines were somewhere between €10 million (7.1m) and €14 million (9.9m)," he said. "If you had a Mercedes engine the price was around €14 million (9.9m), today you are around €16.5 million (11.7m).

"The wrong figures are flying around. I would say that if you look at the complete market, including our competitors and us, it costs between €15 million (10.6m) and €17 million (12.1m) - it's about 15 to 20% more for the new generation of hybrid power units. I don't know where the other figures come from. They are wrong numbers."

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Published: 07/07/2015
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