Budget restrictions to begin in 2019?

02/11/2017
NEWS STORY

The lack of outright hostility towards the proposed engine rules for 2021 announced on Tuesday is due to a number of reasons.

Firstly, the changes announced were merely a proposal, and while there are concerns over costs, especially in terms of manufacturers needing to work on two different engine packages over the coming years, as Toto Wolff admitted, the proposal marks a starting point.

Secondly, Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault are no doubting holding off on their reactions to the engine rules because of more interest is the plan Liberty Media has for the sport going forward, particularly in terms of revenue shares and budget caps. The initial proposals for this are due to be heard on Tuesday when the Strategy Group meets.

While a budget cap of 122m ($150m) has been suggested, Auto Motor und Sport has suggested that in fact the figure is likely to be 150m euros (133m) though it could even drop to 100 million euros (89m), a figure that would see the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull worked into a frenzy.

However, in a bid to aid teams as they are weaned from their current spending habits, Auto Motor und Sport suggests that the cap could be introduced in stages, beginning as early as 2019.

Furthermore, while there would be no limit in terms of team personnel - which wouldn't really matter as such a budget would mean a serious cull at the leading teams - it is claimed that the FIA would install its own 'accountant' within each team as an observer.

With an eye on the recent recruitment by Renault of the FIA's F1 technical chief, Marcin Budkowski, teams will no doubt scream blue murder at the thought of another potential spy in the nest, though the British-based teams' cause will be aided by the fact that by law they must register their accounts at Companies House. Not so Ferrari, Sauber or Haas.

Almost a year into the honeymoon, both sides are about to discover that this is going to be a difficult marriage.

Liberty Media sees this as a business and in order to maximise its dividend it wants a sport it can sell to broadcasters, sponsors and new host venues.

To do this, among other things, it wants to reduce the chances of domination by one particular team and to level the playing field in order that more teams stand a chance, if not of winning the title, at least challenging for podiums.

While there will be support from the likes of Force India, which has long argued for a more level playing field and a greater share of the revenues generated, the big teams and manufacturers will not give in without a fight.

Include in the equation the teams' increasing unease with Liberty's spending - which in turn effects the prize money, which is already likely to be significantly hit the bigger teams - and you have the likelihood of a number of teams and manufacturers reconsidering their futures in F1.

Indeed, the sport looks to be facing one of the most seismic periods in its history.

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Published: 02/11/2017
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