F1 budget curbs proposed

Blueprint unveiled for restrictions in 2021, as Mercedes and Ferrari remain silent on plans

MANAMA • Formula One teams heard a challenging vision of a cost-controlled Formula One when owners Liberty Media revealed their blueprint for the future yesterday.

For the sport's two leading teams, Mercedes and Ferrari, the planned budget cap and revenue controls would mean, in all likelihood, a less dominant role in the sport.

After hearing the five-point plan, the team bosses of the two top teams immediately held a meeting of their own as Mercedes team chiefs Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda invited Maurizio Arrivabene of Ferrari to their hospitality building at the track in Bahrain.

There was no immediate response from the biggest and wealthiest teams, who have expressed concern in recent months about where the sport is heading.

"The teams have to digest the proposals that we've made," said Formula One's managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn, a former Ferrari technical director and former Mercedes team principal.

"I think they were all accepted in good spirit. There's no doubt there will be different opinions. I think everyone, all the teams, is pleased to see the landscape laid out completely on some key elements."

The meetings were held just hours ahead of the opening free practice session for this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, which was topped by Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo (1:31.060).

The long-awaited statement covered five key areas: Control of budgets and revenues, a new structure for governance, sporting and technical rules, engines and overall costs. They are due to be introduced from 2021.

The cost cap is designed to put the onus on wise spending rather than cuts, together with streamlining other areas of the organisation, with the aim of making the sport more "fan-centred".

It gave no details, however, with media reports talking of a US$150 million (S$197 million) annual figure which would be above what many teams spend but well below that of the biggest manufacturers' budgets.

Force India's chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer said his team were pleased with the proposals presented by Liberty Media, who took over in January last year.

"It was a presentation and we all listened and there wasn't much interaction," he said. "My opinion is it's going in the right direction."

Formula One said future revenue distribution must be "more balanced, based on meritocracy of the current performance and reward success for the teams and the commercial rights holder".

"We are driven by one desire - to create the world's leading sporting brand," said Formula One chief executive Chase Carey. "Fan-centred, commercially successful, profitable for our teams and with technological innovation at its heart."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2018, with the headline 'F1 budget curbs proposed'. Print Edition | Subscribe