Sauber "scared" about F1 cost cap potential for trouble

Jonathan Noble
By: Jonathan Noble
Jan 23, 2018, 11:51 AM

Sauber team boss Fred Vasseur has admitted he is "scared" that a Formula 1 cost cap could leave the sport open to ridicule because of potential difficulties in policing it.

Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport F1 Managing Director and Frederic Vasseur, Sauber Team Principal
 Charles Leclerc, Sauber C36
Frederic Vasseur, Sauber Team Principal
Charles Leclerc, Sauber C36
Sauber team group photo, Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein and the Sauber C36
Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-17, leads Marcus Ericsson, Sauber C36
Marcus Ericsson, Sauber C36
Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso STR12, leads Marcus Ericsson, Sauber C36
Lance Stroll, Williams FW40, Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-17, Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team VF-17, Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber C36, Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso STR12, and Marcus Ericsson, Sauber C36, chase the pack at the start
Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-17 and Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber C36 battle for position

Although his small Swiss outfit would be one of the main beneficiaries of any move to cut the spending of the big teams over the long term, he is cautious about how such plans are introduced.

In particular, he has concerns that a simple budget cap may not be the right way to do it, especially if there was a risk of spending limits becoming the main talking point in the paddock.

"If we have the same money as the top teams we will close the gap," Vasseur told

"But I don't know if we have to do that by regulations – like with some standard parts. Then the biggest teams will be able to spend the same as now, but only for marginal gains.

"We could go with financial monitoring, but I am a bit scared about this. On paper it could work but then you have to see how we are able to monitor it during the season to avoid being in a situation that we have in the news or on websites that Ferrari or Mercedes spent 10 Euros more than is allowed.

"Something like that, for the show and the image of F1, would be a worst case scenario, because at this stage – for the fans – the bad side of F1 is that it has become a matter of budgets. And if all together we are only talking about budgets, it would be a nightmare."

Vasseur thinks that some form of cost control is essential, but believes the best way forward would be through limiting opportunities for bigger teams to find performance through extra spending.

"If you want to have a cost cap at $150 million, then it will not affect Force India, it will not affect us, and it will not affect a majority of the teams," he said.

"If you exclude the drivers and marketing, it will be just for the top three teams.

"The best way would be to do it through regulation: limiting the necessary budget to be performant through regulation.

"Mercedes will always be able to spend much more than us, which is fine. But at least you have to give the opportunity for the small teams to be in a position to fight for podiums.

"If you want a good teaser at the start of the race, then it is that [Esteban] Ocon or [Sergio] Perez could be on a podium at every race if they do a good job.

"At the moment you have two Mercedes, two Ferraris and two Red Bulls, and that is a bit boring."

Liberty support

Vasseur has also thrown his support behind the efforts that Liberty Media is making to improve F1 – even though its investment in the sport means the teams' income from commercial rights are set to come down over the next few years.

"When you are doing investment you are killing a part of your short term profits, and if that is the reason then it is fine for me," he said.

"On the one hand, I think things are moving forward in a good direction. We are probably a bit more close to the fans, and this part of the business is moving in the right direction.

"The engine regulations will be much more a matter for the engine suppliers, while my concern as a customer is that we have to maintain reasonable engine costs, and perhaps also close the gap on the grid between the engine suppliers – because otherwise you are killing the suspense."

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About this article

Series Formula 1
Teams Sauber
Author Jonathan Noble
Article type Breaking news