Cost cap enters debate in F1 sprint race plan

Formula 1 teams remain divided on the complicated issue of extra costs for sprint races this year, with the sport’s new budget cap now getting dragged into the debate.

Cost cap enters debate in F1 sprint race plan

Grand Prix racing’s chiefs are pushing ahead with the idea of experimenting with Saturday sprint qualifying at three events this season – Silverstone, Monza and Interlagos – in a bid to see if it’s something that can become more regular in the future.

Under the plans, a normal qualifying session will take place on the Friday of a grand prix weekend, with a 100km qualifying sprint on Saturday then deciding the grid for Sunday’s main event.

The shorter sprint is set to offer a small number of points too, with three on offer for the winner, two for second place and one for third.

Many of the details for the sprint qualifying idea, such as parc ferme regulations and tyre rules, have been broadly agreed by teams, with the matter set to put to be put to a formal vote before the start of the F1 season in Bahrain later this month.

Read Also:

However, one of the final issues that needs resolving is the potential financial consequences that teams could face because of the increased likelihood of there being car damage through having an extra race on a grand prix weekend.

The added chance of first lap front wing damage or other components being broken in other accidents could have financial consequences over the course of the season if more new parts are needed.

Discussions have been held between the teams and F1 chiefs about moving the sprint race plan forward, but the details surrounding potentially added costs have not yet been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

It is understood that an extra payment from FOM to cover any extra sprint-race specific costs has been offered to teams, with that added income added on top the current cost cap limit.

However, sources suggest that some competitors are pushing for the payment to be dramatically higher. Some big spending outfits have even suggested that the current F1 cost cap be increased by more than three times what is on offer (up to an extra $1 million) to cover the added expense that could come from sprint race damage.

Such an idea has not received universal support, especially from those teams that are well below the cost cap limit so see no benefit to it being lifted for their bigger money rivals. They also feel that the $1 million figure is well in excess of what is realistic extra expense.

There are also concerns that extra leeway in the budget cap to the scale of $1 million could actually end up being used by bigger teams to allow more spending on performance gains rather than ever being needed to pay for car damage.

One counter proposal suggested in a recent meeting is for teams to be given a specific payment based on actual car damage that can be calculated after races – similar in some ways to an insurance payout.

This would ensure things are fairer for all teams in terms of damage costs, plus would guarantee no bigger outfits can exploit the budget cap limits.

The lack of consensus so far on the costs issue means a vote on the matter could be finely poised, especially with F1 needing a super majority of 28 votes out of the 30 on the F1 Commission if it’s to go through this season.

F1 and governing body the FIA get 10 votes each, while the teams have one vote apiece.

How the vote sways could prove to be an interesting litmus test for the influence of team partnerships on the F1 grid too, with manufacturer teams potentially calling on their customers to back any plan that they prefer.

While the details of the financial matter still need to be resolved, it appears almost certain that it will not prove to be something that stops the trial happening, so the sprint race trial will go ahead in one form or another.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, whose team was previously strongly against the idea of reverse grid races on Saturday, says he support the idea of the trials this year.

“I think we should give it a go and then be really honest to ourselves,” Wolff said in Bahrain last weekend.

“What was the financial impact and the impact on the eyeballs that we were able to generate, and what is the show factor? As Christian [Horner] said, there are many pros and cons.

“If we all stick our heads together, then we can find a solution that is of mutual benefit. F1 is what we do altogether, and we need to entertain the people.”

shares
comments

Related video

Why F1 was split over Bahrain’s vaccination offer

Previous article

Why F1 was split over Bahrain’s vaccination offer

Next article

Saudi GP reveals F1's fastest street circuit for 2021 race

Saudi GP reveals F1's fastest street circuit for 2021 race
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble
How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean? Prime

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But how long will their battle remain clean? Jonathan Noble ponders that exact point

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Prime

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Prime

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button.

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021
What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Prime

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.

Formula 1
May 5, 2021