Mercedes calls for cost cap rule change to ring-fence non-F1 staff

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff thinks teams’ non-Formula 1 staff should be totally ring-fenced in the future to avoid cost cap loopholes being exploited.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, makes a pit stop

As the FIA continues its probing of the team submissions from the 2022 campaign, it emerged over the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend that a further round of questions have gone back to some of the leading outfits as part of a push for further clarifications.

This comes on top of one of the current big talking points being how much teams are benefitting from using non-F1 parts of their business to help boost progress of their grand prix outfits.

While some of the most obvious exploits in this area have been shut down through the publication of a technical directive (TD45) outlawing the transfer outside the cost cap of IP from non-F1 businesses to teams, there remains some grey areas.

And that is why Wolff believes that, from the next rules cycles that comes into play in 2026, new regulations should be put in place that stops competitors playing around with staff sharing time between F1 teams and other projects.

Asked by Autosport how hard it was for the FIA to properly police these areas of non-F1 business to ensure teams did not gain an unfair advantage, Wolff said: “I think very hard because some the big teams have 1000s of people in various projects, commercial and non-commercial projects.

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Michael Potts / Motorsport Images

“With us, it's a little bit easier because we have everything in one entity. So you can see that the employees are all in one place, and you can see where it's been attributed to or not. It becomes more complex when you have a variety of subsidiaries.

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“I've never been shy of saying, with the 2026 regulations, we should get rid of all of that overall.”

And while teams' extra applied technology business area are a good revenue stream, Wolff thinks that there is greater value from ensuring the cost cap is robust and that there is a greater degree of separation.

“In the real world, it's quite a challenge because we're making revenue and money with our engineering projects,” he added.

“It means we could not assign a person that is working in F1, not even for a minute into non-F1. But I think it's the right thing to do for the sport to say: this is F1, this is not F1.

“And the moment somebody spends 10-seconds on an F1 project, he should be fully in F1. It’s definitely the way we need to go.”

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