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
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...

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
The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix Prime

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix

Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings

The 2021 Portuguese GP will for several drivers go down as a weekend of missed opportunities amid imperfect track conditions that caused struggles with tyre warm-up. But the performances of a select few stood out from the crowd

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory Prime

The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory

Just as he did in 2020, Lewis Hamilton had to come from behind to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Only this time there were two rivals he had to pass, among the several challenges he had to overcome, on his way to securing a 97th grand prix victory

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Imola 1994: Memories from Ayrton Senna’s F1 rivals Prime

Imola 1994: Memories from Ayrton Senna’s F1 rivals

The tragic events of the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix changed Formula 1 forever. Here, 17 of the drivers who took part explain how they coped with the devastating deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna.

Formula 1
May 1, 2021
The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy Prime

The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy

Lewis Hamilton topped the crucial FP2 session on Friday as F1 returned to Portugal, but his Mercedes team cannot be sure it has the edge on its Red Bull rivals. As cool temperatures and wind combine with the still-slippery surface to present drivers with quandaries over set-up and tyre warmup, there's still everything to play for come qualifying.

Formula 1
May 1, 2021