F1 bosses set to consider changes to budget cap rules

F1 bosses set to consider changes to budget cap rules

Formula 1 team bosses are believed to be pushing the sport’s regulators to review aspects of the current regulations governing the budget cap which controls the amount of spending each squad can make.

The latest rules were introduced in 2021 to stop high spending teams from dominating the sport and buying their way out of trouble and get to the top.

The budget cap has been credited with closing up the on-track competition, although it’s not prevented Red Bull from rising to a dominant position above all others.

And there are concerns that the limited spending means that teams currently trailing at the bottom of the grid don’t have a realistic chance to make up lost ground and get back into contention.

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Now Motorsport.com reports that teams could be given greater freedom in terms of capital expenditure to give them the ability to improve critical facilities at their factories.

It’s understood that this was discussed at the most recent F1 Commission meeting. New Williams Racing team boss James Vowles is said to have been particularly keen for changes to the rules in this area.

“I personally think if we want a meritocracy, we need the ability for my team to be given the chance to catch up with some of the big teams and have the same resources,” he said.

Vowles joined Williams from Mercedes over the winter, and admitted he was surprised that his new squad lacked what he would have thought of as essential resources, and can’t afford to develop them under the current rules.

“There are some what I would consider basics, which are in place in other teams and have been since almost 15 years,” he said. “For example, there are software systems that allow you to properly understand where all your parts are.”

He said that these “simply don’t exist” at Williams meaning the team has little hope of making progress compared to their rivals.

“As a result of that, what impresses me is that before I joined, they’ve built the car you see in front of you, 15,000 pieces coming together fitting, working, and seemingly going around the track fairly quickly.

“That’s an incredible accomplishment,” he insisted. “But clearly, it’s not how we can move forward. So we need systems in place and structures in place.”

A number of rivals are believed to support the basic idea, and the FIA and FOM are also willing to engage in the discussion, with a more detailed analysis of potential changes being prepared for further discussions.

“What a [capital expenditure] cost cap does is it solidifies some inherent inequities,” said Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer. “If you were a small team and didn’t have a great wind tunnel, for example, and you couldn’t build one, you’re screwed forever.

“That is why there’s dispensation for new tunnels,” he continued. “And I think there are other infrastructure and tools underneath the tunnel that should be treated the same.

“Things like brake dynos, and full car dynos, that the big teams have and a small team doesn’t,” he added. “If you don’t allow that expenditure, then that inequity is there forever. That means you’re screwed forever, and I think that’s wrong.”

For a rule change to be pushed through in time for 2024, it would require six of the current teams to back it. If eight teams signed up then it could be introduced for the current season.

The first year of the budget cap saw Red Bull fined $7 million for overspending. They have also had ten per cent of the team’s annual wind tunnel time cut.

In addition, Williams received a $25,000 fine for missing a filing deadline, while Aston Martin was fined $450,000 for 12 cases of “incorrectly excluded and/or adjusted costs.”

The FIA was criticised for not publishing the findings of the budget cap until October, and for a further delay until penalties was announced. Rival teams have said Red Bull’s sanction was too lenient, while Christian Horner felt that his team had been treated unduly harshly.

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