In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, FIA president Max Mosley has said that the £30 million figure, which was announced on Tuesday as the level for the budget cap due to be introduced next season, is merely the first round in a negotiation.
“It is provisional. I actually think it could be done for £25 million but that’s just my opinion. All my advisers think it should be more. When people calm down a little bit they will see that all of this is brilliant for Formula One. It won’t hurt the DNA of the sport – £30 million is still vastly more than any other series.”
Team bosses I have spoken to say that at that level the cars will not be the same as they are now and that no team would be able to employ more than 250 staff, roughly a quarter of the staff Toyota employs, a third of Ferrari’s and half of Williams’ staff.
It would bring every team down to around the staffing level of Toro Rosso.
He has gone for an extreme figure, when what he really wants is for the teams to accept the principle of budget caps. Mosley says that the response of the FOTA teams to Tuesday’s announcement was ‘weak’ and suggests that the teams are not as united as they claimed to be at the FOTA press conference in Geneva recently, where the famous “Road map for F1′ was unveiled.
Mischievously, where up until now it was believed that the teams were not consulted on the budget cap plans, he now says that he discussed them with some of the independents who stood to benefit the most, like Williams and Force India. His implication is clear, FOTA is an alliance that cannot survive because competitive animals are not designed to form unions with each other. Their individual desire for a competitive edge will always undermine their collective sense.
“They knew we were considering a budget cap, but I don’t think they expected us just to do it like that. The complaint was that we didn’t consult them. Well, we’ve been talking a lot to Force India and Williams, both of whom were very supportive. I’ve not spoken recently to [Red Bull owner Dietrich] Mateschitz but I would have thought it might appeal to him too.
“In any case, we had to do something. All we’ve had from the teams so far is ‘We’ve done a fantastic job, we’ve reduced costs by 50 per cent’. So what? It has come down from $300-$400 million to $150-$200 million? Well, that’s admirable, but I’m dubious as to whether they will still have $150-$200 million in 2010 and 2011.”
“The thing is; it’s just an option. If I’m wrong it doesn’t matter. If I’m right it will be the salvation of Formula One.”
Thought-provoking words to end on.