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F1 sprint qualifying proposals hit by budget cap stumbling block

F1 sprint qualifying proposals hit by budget cap stumbling block

F1 News

F1 sprint qualifying proposals hit by budget cap stumbling block

F1 sprint qualifying proposals hit by budget cap stumbling block
Ian Parkes & Ewan Gale

The cost of running Formula 1 cars has created a new stumbling block over the proposed sprint qualifying trial planned for three events this season.

A shortened race on Saturday has been touted for the British, Italian and Brazilian Grands Prix in order to determine whether the sport could incorporate the initiative on a full-scale basis in future years.

Whilst all the teams have been keen to support the proposal, discussions continue over the final details, in particular relating to the operating costs within this season's budget cap that appears to have become a major obstacle to the plans.

"We are really struggling to just come in below the budget cap," said Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff. "We are talking about tens of thousands of pounds and not hundreds of thousands.

"Therefore, we would really like to support Stefano [Domenicali] and Ross [Brawn] with the idea because it is worth a try.

"But we simply haven't got the margin to go for it and then find out there is an extra half-a-million pounds or more that we have to find for the budget cap.

"That could mean looking at people again [in terms of making redundancies] and that is not where we want to go anymore."

The $145million budget cap was introduced this season in order to curb the increasing costs incurred by teams in the pursuit of the perfect race car, especially in the currently expensive turbo-hybrid power unit era.

Wolff's Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner indicated the proposals at the moment meant it would be the teams themselves endorsing Formula One Management, with any payback to come later down the line.

"The cash-in doesn't match cash-out at the moment," added Horner.

"So basically it is an investment by teams into FOM to say we will support this in the hope that if it works, it will generate future revenue and future interests and future benefits into the sport in future years.

"At the moment, the cost-benefit of income-in versus the costs to operate these cars - if you divide $145million by 23 events, you can see on a crude basis what it takes to operate a grand prix car.

"What it is effectively, albeit a shorter race, is more cost which is naturally going to be used on the car, new parts et cetera.

"There has to be a sensible allowance that takes things into account because as Toto said, we are chasing 10, 20, 30,000-pound savings at the moment to make sure we are hitting the cap.

"To suddenly have a variable like this, it needs to be accommodated. We are keen to support it but there needs to be accommodation."


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