The small and medium sized F1 teams tried to get meaningful cost control measures introduced for 2015, what one team boss called “sustainable”. But today, the deadline for making rule changes for 2015, the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Munich voted through a modest bill of savings.
These came mostly via restrictions on testing and wing tunnel time and a reduction of the number of engines each driver may use in a season from five to four. They will save some money, but nothing like what was promised.
Furthermore the deadline for changes to the next year’s regulations is now March 1, rather than June 30.
The WMSC also rubber stamped the introduction of standing starts for GP restarts (with some restrictions) which will mean that F1 audiences may get to see the most exciting part of a race several times at some events.
The cars will also now be in parc ferme from Saturday morning’s FP3 onwards, rather than from the start of qualifying.
The budget cap for 2015 announced after a meeting of the F1 Strategy Group and the F1 Commission in Paris on December 9th has not materialised, blocked by the more wealthy teams on the F1 Strategy Group.
There are always rumours about F1 teams being “close to the edge” financially and in Austria these were again being aired with as many as four teams considered under pressure.
Speaking in Austria, Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn said, “There was a decision taken last year by the (World Motor Sport) Council in which they endorsed cost-cutting as a target and they also agreed in principle to the cost cap and the FIA was mandated to implement that.
“Since then other decisions have been taken by other groups going in a different direction. Following that amongst other teams, ours as well, the non-Strategy Group teams I’d say were asked to bring proposals in about how you can achieve a sustainable cost base while still promoting competition. We did that, we also didn’t get anywhere on that.
“I really wonder what the FIA is now going to do and how Formula One is going to be governed in this respect.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner countered,
“I think what’s important to say is that everything that was agreed in the Formula One Commission meeting earlier this week was agreed unanimously. That means every team was around the table and every team had the right to vote against it but everything that went through went through on a unanimous basis. We’ve got what we’ve got.”
While Mercedes’ Toto Wolff had this perspective,
“We need to make sure that Christian is not running away with the costs. Christian needs to make sure that Ferrari is not running away with the costs. This is why we are all in favour, but it is a tricky thing and it’s difficult to get everybody under one umbrella.
“So I guess that what we have done for next year in reducing the in-season testing again, probably to even less the following year. We came back to Europe. All these are sensible steps and this must be on our constant agenda to further reduce the costs.”
As for the safety car standing restarts, there are some restrictions – standing starts will not be carried out if the Safety Car is used within two laps of the start (or restart) of a race or if there are less than five laps of the race remaining.
However there is no mention of a cap on the number restarts in a single race. At some races we have seen as many as three safety car periods, so that could make for interesting, if slightly confusing, viewing.
Testing is cut back but there is a requirement to give young drivers seat time,
There will be three pre-season tests of four days each in Europe in 2015 (currently teams are able to test outside Europe). This will be reduced to two tests of four days in 2016. There will be two in-season tests of two days each in Europe (instead of the current four). Two of these four days must be reserved for young drivers.