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FIA president Jean Todt unleashed a screed in which he was critical of the large teams and their proposals to cut costs in Formula 1. The concept was to offer some thoughts on how the teams could reduce the expense of running and F1 team from the current window of $100 million to $400 million. The teams offered a few ideas but Todt is nonplussed telling AUTOSPORT:

“What was proposed? It was a joke,”

Todt says that he has asked the small teams to offer their ideas—the teams who are not on the F1 strategy group—and it has yet to be revealed as to what concepts they have arrived at.

Todt says that the biggest area of cost-cutting is headcount. Staffed with 800 employees, the big teams are carrying significant overhead in salaries. If you consider 300 people at $40,000 per year, that’s a $12 million burden.

As always, when equity is sought for anything, headcount and human collateral damage is the first thing to go down the equilibrium spiral. There is little equitable about firing 300 or more people and while Todt’s concern is understood, the small teams aren’t employing those kinds of headcounts. If the large teams are, that’s their business but I thought the ideas was how to cut costs to keep the little teams in the sport.

Surely Sauber isn’t employing 800 people in which to cut? Caterham? Marussia?

The concept only works if you have more specification racing and that’s something no one wants. Lots of ideas have been proffered but it remains to be seen just how the FIA and teams will resolve the situation. Perhaps Todt feels that cutting headcount for all teams will reduce resources that can be applied to the program and this will have a leveling effect. Maybe but it’s a bit of a gamble.
Todt said:

“The proposals that they seem happy with are to reduce budgets by $2 million, which is ridiculous.

“When we speak about costs we must speak about reducing it by 30-40 per cent. Then we can feel comfortable.
“So what can we do? I have some ideas. I gave some input, and I want to see what the teams say.

“We will meet with all the people and hopefully they are sensible people and they come with some sensible suggestions.”

The debate continues and Todt has two issues to use at his disposal. The decision made prior to the end of June do not need unanimous consent by all the teams and if he isn’t getting the cuts he wants from the big teams, he can wait until after June to pressure the big teams by bringing in the small teams to force a showdown and quagmire over a vote of unanimity. That sounds cumbersome but then F1 is a cumbersome sport when that much money is on the line.

We’ve talked about this before but how could you get all teams on board with a cost-cutting concept that would radically reduce the cost? Is headcount the only way?

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Dr. C

    I’m done with F1, the mechanical changes have put these cars on the same level as Indy cars. The idea of Hamilton winning 4 in a row shows what a joke F1 has become.

  • Big condemnation from a little, little man.

    As ever, it’s so much easier to criticize than to propose; I’ll be curious to see what Todt offered the teams.

  • xlr8r

    Todd, I know it will mean people losing jobs, but F1 cannot continue as is budget wise for the teams. That’s the harsh reality of how bad F1 budgets have become.

    My idea is too severely limit the amount of people each team can bring to the track, and that is not just including mechanics and engineers, but also the hospitality people. Also limit physically the amount of stuff each team can bring to the track each race. They do not need 5 or 6 trucks at the track plus their fancy lounges and portable buildings. Limit each team to 2 trucks, and that’s it. That enough for 2 cars and spares. It seems to work for every series here in america, so it should work for F1 too.

    Also engines should be leased like Indycar. Indycar still has engine development, but it is significantly cheaper than F1. Therefore tires and engines are managed and brought to the track by the manufacturers, and not the teams.

    • I have to disagree once more. For one, I don’t see how limiting hospitality helps anyone. This is not track related, so it should be open to the individual teams. If you want to spend money on it, fine. Secondly, this can in fact be an important aspect with a positive net effect, as the teams want of course to impress customers/sponsors, what better way than to offer great trackside experiences.

      I’m also not sure how leasing an engine is supposed to reduce costs. At the end of the day, the costs remain the same, the only thing that’s different is how you pay for it. Also, I don’t want cheap engines. This is F1, not some Mickey Mouse racing league. It should be at the forefront of technology which necessarily makes it expensive.

      As for the rest, that’s certainly worth thinking about, though I’m not sure this would make a big dent in the costs. Though I did think that some of the ideas of the smaller teams might work, like not allowing to bring in new parts after friday, or mandating that cars have to be homologated by summer and cannot be evolved further after that point.

      I’ll reiterate what I have said before though: The revenue is the decisive factor, not “costs”. Whatever money comes in will be spent, so the costs of F1 correlate directly with how much money is taken in. Over the past decade or two, most of that money went into aero development which is probably the least relevant area in terms of translating that technology for street cars. Another big chunk is probably spent on materials, then we have mechanical aspects, the engine and of course all the software.
      This year, due to the new regulations, engines will eat up a larger portion of the overall budget, but that’s a good thing if you ask me. I much rather have them invest in new engine technology than in ever more refined wind tunnel simulations. That’s why my ultimate hope would be for F1 to radically simplify the aero aspect and replace much of that downforce with ground effect. That would not only reduce costs for developing a chassis, it would also give us more exiting racing as the cars wouldn’t lose grip behind another car, rather they might even be able to take advantage of the slipstream again which hopefully would kill DRS once and for all.

      Alternatively, the FIA could mandate a maximum downforce that is monitored throughout the race, just like the fuel flow. That wouldn’t be quite as nice, but it would also do the trick, at least regarding limiting aero and reducing costs…not so much with the racing aspect.

      • xlr8r

        GP2 is now faster than some of the F1 teams, and is able to put on a much better show at 1/10th the cost. How can F1 be considered the forefront of racing when this is going on. Its time F1 decides whether it wants to be a racing series, and give more control of the car to the drivers to push and drive at ten tenths, or just become a technology showcase where the drivers skill does not matter except for how well they push buttons instead of turning wheels and using pedals.

        Le Mans to me is the series that blends the line between technology showcase and racing perfectly. But it makes sense for them as that is a series for car manufacturers and the endurance format is perfect for their technology. F1 is for constructors that want to race, not sell cars in the showroom.

  • dude

    Is there anywhere I can go to see a lap times comparison between F1 and GP2 cars for the recent races?