Seidl: F1 must find compromise in cost cap inflation debate

McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl says that F1 has to find a compromise and a “clearly defined solution” on the cost cap inflation debate in a crunch meeting on Friday.

Seidl: F1 must find compromise in cost cap inflation debate

The F1 Commission will meet in Austria with the cost cap and the FIA porpoising technical directive among the key items on the agenda for what is expected to be a heated discussion.

Several teams have made it clear that they have no chance of staying within the 2022 cost cap limit of $141.2m (including the extra allowance for a 22nd race), thanks to the inflationary pressure created in large part by the conflict in Ukraine.

Teams have been pushing for an extra inflation allowance – which is currently built into the rules for future seasons – while there is also a debate on taking elements such as freight out of the cap.

Meanwhile, some teams, notably Alpine and Alfa Romeo, have been arguing that there should be no adjustments.

“I'm still confident that in the end we'll find a good solution for the best interest of the sport moving forward,” said Seidl.

"There are several teams, including us, that due to the unexpected circumstances and with big consequences on the financial side that are simply not in a position to make the cap this year.

“With knowing that, again, I think the best [option] would be to address the situation and put a clearly defined, say, solution in place.

“The FIA did an intense analysis with all teams, I would say in the last month, to have a clearer picture of what the reality is, and these unexpected big cost increases, which have nothing to do with the normal inflation. Mainly on the freight side, and utility bill side.

“And based on that, I guess, the FIA has a clear idea of what is sensible and what is reasonable."

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Asked how much leeway McLaren might require, he said: "I know what we need, but there's no point in broadcasting it! Already now we have to manage quite a lot when we look at also our upgrade plan for the year. Despite knowing that we will definitely go above the cap.

“Again, my focus is to find a solution. And that's where we put our energy. Everything else, you create headaches afterwards.”

Autosport understands that a solution is unlikely to emerge from Friday's meeting.

However, Seidl says that part of the discussion is around bringing forward the inflation indexation that is built into the rules in future seasons. 

“An important point to understand is that the discussion we're having is not actually about increasing the budget category. So the limit of the $135m [for 2023] is not in discussion.

“The discussion is if you simply introduce the inflationary increase, which was part of the regulations from 2024 onwards, if you just introduce that earlier, that's the discussion we're having. But we're not talking about an increase of the cost cap limits."

There’s a feeling in the paddock that some teams are prepared to go over the limit and then face the consequences further down the line, essentially on the basis that if several teams are over it will be harder for the FIA to apply strict sanctions.

The financial regulations contain a list of potential penalties but there is no detail on exactly what might be applied for a given breach.

Seidl insists that McLaren does not want to test the rules in that way: "I can't speak for the other teams. It's definitely not something we want to do. I think it would also be not good for the sport. And that's why I think the best is we agree on a compromise, and on a defined solution.

"We are very supportive of the fact that it is not clear what the penalty is, in general, when it comes to cost cap, because as always, when you know what the penalties are for certain infringements, you play with that. So I don't have any issue with that."

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Despite the current issues, Seidl says that he still backs the principle of the cap.

"Of course, you can now pick the small little negatives from the overall very positive concept of the cost cap that we have put in place.

“And, again, for us at McLaren it's well known that we were heavily supportive of the introduction of the cost cap. I think it's great not just for us, it's great overall, for the sport, it puts a lot of teams now in a place that you can take part in F1 in a sustainable way on the financial side, and be competitive at the same time on the on the sporting side."

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