Honda call for team budget caps in F1

Motor racing's governing body is being urged to consider the radical idea of a budget cap for teams in Formula One as a way of stopping costs escalating out of control

Honda call for team budget caps in F1

With the FIA having outlined a plan to limit the use of wind tunnels and other aerodynamic development as their latest step to limit costs, following a 10-year engine freeze, Honda Racing chiefs are calling for a more unconventional regulation.

They think that the FIA should introduce a cap on team budgets, rather than limit the teams on what they can develop on their cars.

Honda Racing CEO Nick Fry recently held discussions with new team principal Ross Brawn about the future direction of F1, and both feel that a budget cap is a realistic answer to solving the cost issues in F1.

"Ross and I both think that an overall budget cap is something that should be seriously investigated," Fry told autosport.com. "What we see at the moment, if you look at the accounts of any of the UK F1 teams, is that the costs keep going up.

"So far what we have been successfully doing is moving money from one area of the team to another. Money is certainly moved from engines to aerodynamics, because that is the next best area of performance advantage.

"We support a lot of the proposals on the aero restrictions, but the fear is that that money will merely be diverted elsewhere. It will go to driver salaries or engineer salaries, or some other part of the car, but will not necessarily reduce the total bill that a team has to pay.

"So rather than chasing our tails, we think we should be considering an overall budget cap. Although it will be difficult to monitor, we think it can be achieved."

Brawn added: "We do support sensible efficiencies on cost and cost restraint. The difficult thing is applying it so it doesn't advantage or disadvantage one team over another, and that's the thing we need to focus on.

"The concept of a budget cap a couple of years ago was thought to be fairly ludicrous. But if you look at the weaknesses of the counter-arguments and alternative solutions, you wonder whether budget-capping isn't the one you ought to find a solution for. It gives everyone the opportunity they want to try and achieve the objective."

Although there are obvious difficulties in monitoring a team's budget to ensure they did not find ways of getting around such a cap, Brawn thinks the challenges are no harder than the FIA will find in trying to impose a future limit on wind tunnel or CFD work.

"I could pick holes in the aerodynamic argument," he said. "How do you police CFD? You have a processor and a number of people working at their workstations in the CFD department, but if you've got somebody off-site quite legitimately developing the code and then they put that enhanced code into your system, are they part of your CFD process or not?

"I'm not saying a budget cap is the easiest thing to apply, but is it any more difficult than the other things we're going to do? And intrinsically or conceptually, it's a nicer thing because it's an efficiency approach.

"How fast can you make this car go for 100 million a year? How efficient can you be? And it's up to the teams to decide whether they spend 50 million on the driver and 50 million on the car; or one million on the driver and 99 million on the car. It would be fascinating to have that challenge."

Brawn felt that the movement of staff from one team to another would leave teams wary of openly breaching the budget caps, because a 'whistle-blower' could expose what was happening.

Fry admitted it would take a lot of work to specify what was in a team's 'capped' budget and what was not.

"Some of it looks easy on the face of it, but you have to think about what is included and what is not included," explained Fry. "Are your marketing people included? How do you account for resources that are shared with a car manufacturer?"

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Series Formula 1
Teams Honda Racing F1 Team
Author Jonathan Noble
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