All eyes have gone off the stunning start to this year’s F1 circus with the news that Ferrari, Renault, Red Bull and several other teams have threatened to quit F1 next year in protest at the budget cap proposal and the two-tier system that appears to create.
In a nutshell, the FIA – lead by Max Mosley – has imposed a £40 million cap on F1 team expenditure for next year (excluding driver costs, marketing costs and transport), but has said that teams who don’t adhere to the cap can still compete, but will be handicapped. Not surprisingly, the richer teams have objected and, on the face of it, it starts to look as if F1 as we know it is going to bite the dust.
Ferrari have taken things a step further by launching court action in France to stop the FIA’s plans, claiming that they have a veto over ‘Substantive Rule Changes’ which the FIA has ignored. The preliminary hearing for that will be heard on Tuesday.
But Bernie Ecclestone has been doing what he does best -schmoozing – and it looks like there may be a compromise to be had. In essence, there doesn’t seem to be a huge body of opinion against a budget cap in principal, but there certainly is against a budget cap at the proposed level, and a two-tier system. So a budget cap that is more sensible for the teams already in F1, which is imposed across the board, seems the sensible way to go.
Of course, increasing the proposed budget cap (£100 million is rumoured) would be a big compromise for the FIA and it would immediately throw in to doubt the entries for next year – such as Lola – who have expressed their desire to compete with a £40 million cap in place.
So the choice is probably straightforward. Scrap the two-tier system and impose a much bigger budget cap (perhaps with a year on year reduction agreed at the start) or scrap F1 as we know it and leave it to the also-rans.
Somehow I don’t see Bernie letting that happen. He has already got the FIA to scrap the two-tier system at a meeting this weekend, and we expect a compromise on the budget cap to be thrashed out on Friday prior to the Monaco Grand Prix. We’ll let you know.Image: The Telegraph