Williams Formula 1 deputy team principal Claire Williams has “great sympathy” for big-spending teams adjusting to a $145m budget cap and is pleased they recognised the “gravity of the situation”.
Last year F1 teams and stakeholders agreed on a $175m budget cap for 2021, but this has been renegotiated amid the coronavirus crisis and teams will soon vote on a reduction to $145m, with a potential sliding scale to $130m in future seasons.
F1 sporting boss Ross Brawn is confident the reduced cap will be accepted, along with other measures including a performance balancing system whereby the lowest-finishing teams in the championship can undertake more aerodynamic development the following year.
Reducing the cost cap is a measure being taken to secure the medium- and long-term futures of teams and improve the competitiveness of the championship, and Williams says the fact it will be even lower than $175m is “even better news for teams like ours”.
“There is on the flip side difficulties for the big teams with that,” she told Sky Sports F1.
“They’re operating on budgets that are so much greater than that and I think the very fact that they’ve seen the reality and the gravity of the situation for everyone else on the grid and those of us running teams, it’s not going to be easy moving forward and they’ve had to come down even further.
“So I have great sympathy for them but also I’m so pleased that they’ve seen the enormity of the situation and reacted in the way that they’ve needed to.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has sent several countries into lockdown, putting many businesses in jeopardy, and F1 and its teams are among those to place staff on enforced leave to try to protect themselves in the short-term.
Williams said it was only right that F1 made a conscious effort to drastically reduce costs at a time when the world is in a sensitive situation.
“In this day and age as well there needs to be a semblance of reality and responsibility with expenditure in Formula 1,” she said.
“Teams going out and spending hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars going racing every year, is that really relevant anymore?
“I think this sport has to ensure that it retains its relevancy within society, and people aren’t just looking at us going ‘What are they doing spending all of this money going round and round race tracks?’.
“That’s something that we need to tackle and through this situation we’ve been able to do that as well as a by-product.”
McLaren wanted F1’s budget cap to be as low as $100m to completely overhaul the pecking order that has been established in recent years because of certain teams spending considerably more than others.
However, Williams said the entire process has been about “compromise” and therefore any reduction from $175m is a victory for teams like hers, which has suffered greatly in recent seasons and eye the cost cap and new technical rules as an opportunity to revive its fortunes.
“You’ve got to find a middle ground somewhere and coming down from the $175m to whatever it may end up at, $145m or $140m, whatever the FIA confirm, is always going to be better for teams like ours,” she said.
“We might not meet it straight away but it just brings the ceiling down, and that will create more competitive racing, and better racing for the fans, and give us the opportunity to ensure our businesses are sustainable going into the future and can be successful going into the future as well.”