Budget dispute: “Only switch off the wind tunnel” | CAR ENGINE AND SPORT

Six teams demand an inflation surcharge and face opposition from Alpine, Alfa Romeo and Williams. They do not see inflation as force majeure and advise teams working on the border to simply stop evolving.

It is an irreconcilable topic where there are good arguments for and against. For Alfa-Sauber’s team manager Frédéric Vasseur, it is a question that can decide the world championship. Front, center and back of the field. There will be teams holding a joker in their hands from the middle of the season. You will still have development budget left while others have no more money to spend on new parts. Despite full boxes.

There is, of course, concern that some teams in their distress will risk going over budget. Anything below five percent is considered a “minor” violation of financial rules. In this case, the sports commissioners determine the penalty. It is a risk game with an unknown outcome. “If the penalty is low, then the one who exceeds has a huge advantage. Imagine if it could give you three extra upgrades for it,” warns Vasseur.


With the large teams with many employees, the development must soon be stopped.

What is force majeure?

The budget ceiling is a very special challenge this season. Not just because the limit has dropped from $ 145 million to $ 140 million. Much more because there were no acquisitions from the previous season due to the new cars. In a normal season, it saves $ 30 million.

Then there is inflation, which has risen with Russia’s war against Ukraine. In September 2021, it was still 2.9 percent despite Corona. Now it is 6.1 percent and there is no end in sight.

Shipping costs, electricity, petrol prices and purchases of materials have in some cases doubled. The teams expect an increase in spending of eight to nine million dollars. Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull talk about force majeure. No one could count on inflation like this.

Vasseur disagrees: “A pandemic is force majeure. Inflation is a natural process that occurs from time to time. You need to include this in your planning. Freight, electricity and materials have also become more expensive for us. We are still coping. one way or another.” Alpine colleague Otmar Szafnauer adds: “The budget plans for a season are always made in November and December the year before. It was already predictable that inflation would rise.”

Alfa Romeo - Spanish GP 2022

Alfa Romeo

Teams need to think carefully about how much money they are investing in upgrades.

Is there still a Monza package?

According to the competition’s internal calculations, many teams are already close to the limit. Therefore, there should be no more new parts from the Canadian GP and ahead of those that take full advantage of the budget ceiling. An inflation premium of four million dollars would be balm for the wounds.

Vasseur has a recipe for this: “Just switch off the wind tunnel. We are ten percent below the cost limit. I also have to find solutions that the cost of living has increased. Then it is no longer possible for new parts to come to each race.”

Red Bulls team manager Christian Horner warns that seven teams could no longer compete in the last four races if there is no relief. Szafnauer replies with biting mockery: “It’s great. Then we can advance to the World Cup. Can we already plan the failure, or was he just kidding?”

Aston Martin’s team manager Mike Krack also sees it all pragmatically: “If they do not compete, there are more points for the other teams. We follow the rules exactly. Now is the time to think about how to spend your money Our “teams are used to working efficiently. We are not at the point where participation in races is at risk, but we also need to consider, for example, whether a Monza package is still possible.”

Carlos Sainz - Imola - 2022

Pictures of motorsports

Accidents can cause unplanned expenses.

Danger of the principle of cost overruns

Formula 1 technical director Pat Symonds differentiated. The veteran among the engineers has no sympathy for the teams complaining about the high budget. “Now the big teams are experiencing what I was confronted with for most of my career. Even at Renault, new parts were usually over after Monza. In case of major accidents, even before that.”

But Symonds also admits that current inflation justifies an exception rule: “No one could have expected this increase. One can justify it as a revocable subsidy and then continue strictly following the rules again from 2023.”

Vasseur sees the current dispute as a general acid test for the budget ceiling. “There are teams that are screaming for more money on every occasion. When the sun is shining longer or the wind is blowing stronger. There is a risk that we will always give in. When it comes to setting a budget ceiling, there must be rules, and they must be respected. If we soften the principle, it would also be the end of the idea of ​​the cost ceiling. “

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