F1’s big and wide-ranging package of cost-cutting measures – headlined by a tighter budget cap – have been approved to make the sport more sustainable and competitive into the future.
Rubber stamped by the World Motor Sport council on Wednesday, F1 will introduce a $145m budget cap from next season and – for the first time – an aero development handicap system for the more successful teams.
“Formula 1 wins today,” said McLaren’s Zak Brown. “This is a crucially important moment for our sport.
“F1 has been financially unsustainable for some time, and inaction would have risked the future of F1 and its participants, who are to be commended for resolving this issue collectively and determinedly.”
– A reduction of the cost-cap level to $145M for 2021, $140M for 2022 and $135M for 2023-2025, based on a 21-race season
– An ‘aero handicap’ for 2021, with teams limited to how much aerodynamic development they can do based on where they finish in the championship
– A new token system for 2021 so that teams can only make a limited number of modifications to their 2020 cars for next season
F1 had previously agreed to install the sport’s first-ever budget cap from next year with a limit of $175m, as part of a wider package of technical, sporting and financial rule changes designed to improve the spectacle and give more teams a chance of success.
But the coronavirus crisis, which has seen a number of British-based outfits place sections of their staff on furlough and resulted in F1’s factory shutdown period being brought forward and extended, has accelerated the need for F1 to slash costs.
The grid’s leading teams are currently spending in excess of $200m per season.
Renault, who have also long pushed for cost reductions, said in a statement that the changes “constitute responsible and appropriate responses to the short and long term challenges of Formula 1”.
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WHAT ELSE IS CHANGING?
Having previously agreed to defer the sport’s car-design overhaul by 12 months to 2022 and continue with the still-unraced 2020 cars for next year, F1’s teams and stakeholders have also agreed immediate measures for when this season does begin.
Power unit upgrades will be limited, with test bench use at factories restricted, while all teams will have to adhere to reduced aerodynamic development time.
The FIA also confirmed that a “large list of components” over the 2020-2021 off-season – including the chassis and gearbox – will be frozen, with the token system to only allow for limited modifications.
For 2021, changes to the plan-view trim and simplification of the floor ahead of the rear tyres will be enforced “in order to moderate the increase of downforce” expected between this season and next.
With the early European events of the new season set to take place without fans in attendance, starting with the planned Austrian GP on July 5, F1’s Sporting Regulations now differentiate and include provisions for ‘open’ and ‘closed’ events.
WHAT WILL THE BUDGET CAP MEAN FOR TEAMS?
While the budget cap will still preclude some big-ticket items, such as drivers’ salaries, the introduction of the $145m limit for team performance for 2021 and subsequent sliding scale is set to prompt significant and long-lasting changes to aspects of teams’ operations.
McLaren are expected to make around 70 redundancies in their F1 team as part of wider cost-cutting measures at the Woking group in preparation for the cap and Andreas Seidl, their team principal, said: “It has been clear to everyone for some time that a budget cap would be applied and we pushed for a lower limit to support a financially sustainable sport.
“It is a big challenge ahead of us.
“Adjusting the way we work and right-sizing the team to this new cap over the next months is a massive and painful task and, highlighted by our news earlier this week, will sadly mean losing team members, but our aim is to be the best-sized and most efficient team in the future.”
This article was originally published by Sky Sports and reproduced with permission.
Abt, who has been in Formula E since the first race in 2014, said: “Today I was informed in a conversation with Audi that our ways will split from now on.
“We won’t be racing together in Formula E any more and the cooperation has ended. It is a pain which I have never felt in my life.
“It was extremely important to me to take this opportunity to tell you what happened and to simultaneously apologise to my family, to my friends, to Audi, to my partners, to Formula E, to UNICEF, and of course to all the fans who supported me over the years.”
Abt, who had qualified in second place and finished third last Saturday, was quickly rumbled by fellow racers Stoffle Vandoorne and two-time FE champion Jean-Eric Vergne.
At the time Vandoorne said: “Really not happy here because that was not Daniel driving the car himself.”
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RUMBLED BY ANGRY TEAM-MATES
Vergne also doubted whether he was racing, as his camera was switched off.
He added: “Please ask Daniel Abt to put his Zoom next time he’s driving, because like Stoffel said, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t in.”
Formula E launched an investigation and discovered his IP address was incorrect and placed 18-year-old Hoerzing at the wheel.
In a video last night, Abt apologised and insisted it was simply a joke that backfired and he had no intention of cheating.
He said: “We had a conversation and the idea came up that it would be a funny move if a sim racer basically drove for me, to show the other, real drivers, what he is capable of.
“We wanted to document it to create a funny story for the fans. That was our idea on the day and our thought.
“We talked about it and how to make it happen and how to unwind it in a video afterwards.
“It was never my intention to let another driver drive for me, to get a result and keep quiet about it later on, just to make me look better.
“The result was irrelevant to me. I’m not getting any money from it. The sim racer hasn’t got any money from me, either.
“It simply was an idea. It was a feeling of ‘this could be something cool’. We did not think about the seriousness and the consequences of the situation.
“We made a huge mistake and I stand by this mistake. I accept it and I will carry all the consequences for what I have done.”
Renault Sport Formula 1 team principal Cyril Abiteboul has revealed two rival teams attempted to poach star driver Daniel Ricciardo during the coronavirus lockdown.
Earlier this month, it was announced Ricciardo had signed with McLaren for the 2021 season, bringing his brief stint with Renault to a close. However, the Australian driver will need to complete a shortened 2020 season with Renault, with whom he had limited success last year.
Ricciardo managed zero podium finishes in the 2019 season. The 30-year-old finished ninth on the official standings, his worst Formula 1 performance in six years.
Abiteboul said he was particularly “disappointed” with Ricciardo’s departure because it continued the worrying trend of instability and inconsistency within the Renault team. He also reported 70 per cent of Renault’s staff had a change of management or structure to their department over the last 12 months.
“It’s important to remember that we have one year, one season to do together, and we expect more out of that season than from last season, that is for sure,” Abiteboul told Motorsport.com.
“I’m a bit disappointed because I don’t think that you can build anything without stability. That goes for drivers, but frankly that’s also true for the rest of the organisation.
“We had a lot of changes last year … a new technical director, new head of aero, new engineering director.
“All of that has happened in the last 12 months with lots of change. I would have liked to see that result of that, because we know that there is a bit of latency, before going into the action of a driver change and driver discussion.”
Abiteboul also revealed two rival teams “pushed” Ricciardo to leave Renault during the coronavirus lockdown.
“I’m a bit surprised about the activism of two particular F1 teams, who have pushed Daniel to sort of rush the decision. We decided not to bend over this timing and to stick to our plan. Our plan and our priority is to make a better car,” Abiteboul said.
“If we had had a better car last year, probably you will not be asking me this question. And we know that if we have a better car we’ll be able to attract any driver in the future, so that’s our focus. That’s been our priority.
“The new regulation, the new deal (rules), have been our priority. Securing the future of F1 has been our priority. He’s made his decision, we’re moving on.
“We want to take the time to make sure we make the right decision. I think that there has been the first sort of domino of drivers. I expect that there may be another one, but not before a number of months.”
Although Abiteboul conceded Renault’s car underperformed in 2020, he believes February’s winter testing yielded “encouraging” improvements.
“Our performance was encouraging, but it’s just winter testing, and frankly, as I’m speaking, I don’t know the competitiveness of our car. We all have our analysis but until we’ve done a proper qualifying run we don’t know,” Abiteboul said.
“Typically the competitiveness of the car is a representation of the competitiveness of the team and the new people that we have. Therefore the priorities of where we want to put our money is an indication that I want to have before I rush any decision.
“Our position is more a position about taking the time to be properly informed, to make sure that we make the right decision, because probably the next decision on drivers will be an important one and most probably the driver who will join us for 2021 will stay for 2022.”