Formula 1’s big teams might decide to leave the championship if the reduced 2021 budget cap has “too deep of a cut”, says Racing Point boss Otmar Szafnauer.
Next week F1 stakeholders will vote on a new budget cap for 2021, which was set to be $175m but is poised to be made lower in the wake of the coronavirus crisis and the impact it continues to have on sports and businesses.
Discussions have taken place for weeks with Ferrari assuming the strongest public position against a significant reduction, and McLaren arguing for a cap as low as $100m.
A compromise below $150m looks achievable and Szafnauer says even as the Aston works team, which Racing Point will become next year, a $130m budget cap would “suit us to a tee” as it would “operate there very easily”.
“But we’ve got to be realistic and pragmatic such that we don’t have a budget cap where some of the bigger teams say ‘at this level I’m not efficient, I’ll never get there, I’m better off taking my X amount of world championships, putting that in the bag and leaving’,” the Racing Point team principal told Sky Sports.
“We don’t want that either. We want to keep everybody racing, keep F1 in its entirety as we have it today.
“We should look at a budget cap that either makes everybody equally upset or equally happy, whichever way you look at it, and to me that’s the right compromise.”
McLaren argues that the crisis has created an opportunity for F1 to address a long-standing spending imbalance that has locked in the competitive order.
Ferrari and Red Bull believe that reducing costs is necessary but big teams design and manufacturer parts that smaller teams then purchase, and therefore equally low budget caps are unfair.
“Maybe I’m more pragmatic than some of the others, maybe I’m just foolish, but I think what we need to do here is look at the entirety of the sport, not just be selfish as we generally are for our own position,” Szafnauer said.
“I think we need to land at a place that, yes, the big teams have come down from $175m, knowing what we know now, there’s something smaller.
“But $100m for them might be a little too far to go and too deep of a cut.”
While bigger-picture decisions are set to be made in the coming days, several short-term measures have already been employed to protect team finances.
Teams are currently observing a shutdown period that will last until at least the end of May, preventing any immediate work being undertaken, while new technical rules have been pushed back from 2021 to 2022.
Development work on those rules will not be allowed this year at all.
“The thing to do now is make sure we spend the least amount of money possible,” said Szafnauer.
“Having a shutdown to the end of May goes a long way towards that.
“We have 465, but other teams have five-six-seven hundred people coming into work every day, most of those will look at now really spending money but improving the car. And you can’t improve the car without spending money.
“Every time we use the windtunnel, we’ve got to put parts on a model and those parts are all bespoke parts either machined or 3D printed. They’re not inexpensive.
“Then when you do find an improvement, lo and behold you design a life-size part for the car and put that on and test it.
“It’s just very, very expensive to continually upgrade and develop the car.
“We’re saving a significant amount of money.”