Formula One News: F1 Cost Cap Plans Delayed; Force India Vows to Stay Put

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By Shruthi SU | April 8, 2014 7:58 PM EST

Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg during the Bahrain GP. Reuters
Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg during the Bahrain GP. Reuters

FIA president Jean Todt had proposed a cost cap to Formula One teams under which budgets can be monitored and controlled from next year. The proposal is now delayed due to a lack of majority votes with all actions postponed for 2015.

Formula One is one of the most expensive sports in the world with the teams involved sharing approximately $700 million a year together in sponsorships and TV rights among others. The main issue here, of course, is the distribution of money, because the gap between the amount received by big teams and smaller teams are quite large.

The "big six" as they have come to be known - Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, Williams, McLaren, and Lotus - are part of the strategy group that decides and votes against or in favour of major changes.

Todt's proposal had come last December in Paris and had been agreed upon to come in to practice in January 2015. Todt, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and the teams had "unanimously agreed that cost reduction and cost control regulations will be presented to the WMSC in June 2014 for introduction in January 2015."

But, after the Bahrain race on Sunday, Todt told reporters that the majority had reversed their stance and the proposal doesn't hold ground anymore.

Todt is not the first person to have raised his concerns over the ever-rising budgets in F1. In 2009, the then FIA president Max Mosley had also insisted on a €60 million cost cap on the teams. The proposal was not taken to kindly.

This time around, however, the budget capping was intended to be more practical so as to get the major teams to agree.

"Most of the teams were in favour of the cost cap, but I understand that all the teams that are part of the Strategy Group are against it now," Todt said in a statement.

"Am I disappointed? In a way I am disappointed because it may be more difficult to achieve the reduction which I feel is needed.

"But everyone says we are all in favour of reducing the cost, and through sporting and technical regulations."

When asked about the logistics and the workings of a cost cap, Ecclestone inspired many ideas. "The plan under consideration is to give €1 million to any whistleblower whose knowledge is proved to be accurate," he had told the Express. "We will then say to the team that the following year you will lose three of the maximum points you have scored. Then let's see if they want to cheat.

"We have approved the budget cap. It is going to happen. Everyone agreed to $200 million. What hasn't been agreed is what is in the $200 million.

"Unless we include everything, I am sure people will find ways around it. It's going to be difficult."

Ecclestone's comments had come prior to the votes received from the strategy group which as we now know turned against the cost cap. The fact that there are some positives to work on so as to implement it in near future is something that should help the small and medium-sized teams perform better.

Cost control and cooperative collaboration could come in handy for a team like Force India which has already made a mark this year. Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley said he would push F1 officials towards taking the next step.

"I am disappointed, but we have to continue to put pressure on, for it to happen," Fernley said after Force India's Sergio Perez finished third in Bahrain on Sunday. "Force India have just proved you don't have to keep spending money to put on a good show, and this race was testament to Formula One putting on a fantastic show.

"You need regulations to help, but you also need cost control, and I don't think we'll change our opinion on that. We have to get the teams viable for the sustainability of the sport."

Force India have no rights to vote for major changes in the sport as they are not part of the strategy group.

"In my view, that shows the frailty of the system as it is today," Fernley added. "It's totally unacceptable, and we'll never change our mind on that. You can't enrich and empower certain very strong teams, disenfranchise the rest and expect us to be happy.

"But we'll keep at it. We'll not back off at any point. We've tried to be constructive in the criticism, but nevertheless still criticising and we have to stay with that."

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(Photo: / )
Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg during the Bahrain GP. Reuters
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