Cost-cutting moves meet opposition from F1 teams

AP News
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Posted: Sep 19, 2015 5:37 AM
Cost-cutting moves meet opposition from F1 teams

SINGAPORE (AP) — Proposals to introduce a cost cap on supply of engines and a ban on wind tunnels have run into opposition from Formula One teams.

The F1 Strategy Group — comprising the sport's governing body FIA, the sport's commercial arm run by Bernie Ecclestone and the top six teams — reportedly approved the two proposals by split votes.

The proposals would need to pass further approval from regulatory bodies to come into effect.

Mercedes, one of four current engine suppliers in F1 and a team that supports the ongoing use of very expensive wind tunnel technology to aid aerodynamic development, opposed both proposed measures.

Toto Wolff, team principal of Mercedes, said the move to cap the price of its annual engine supply deal to customer teams at a reported 12 million euros ($13.6 million) — around half current levels — flew in the face of accepted business practice.

"We are operating on a set of rules," Wolff said. "We have developed an engine and we have developed a car looking at regulations and trying to do the best possible job.

"If we find out a couple of years later that, oops, we've forgotten to set the framework right, this is not how you operate today.

"I have my opinion on fixing any price and there's a pretty simple legal view."

He did see merit in a further proposal to offer year-old engines to small teams at a discounted rate, although he said "I don't think that many teams are going to take that up."

Claire Williams, deputy team principal for Williams which is an engine customer of Mercedes, said a saving of a proposed 4 million euros per year for taking year-old engines would have to be considered.

"For a team like Williams, with the budget we have, a cost saving of 4 million euros ($4.5 million) is always going to help because it means we can divert that spend into another area — it can go on aero, it can go on another area — so those numbers are important," she said.

Franz Tost, team principal of Toro Rosso which currently buys its engines from Renault, was opposed to the idea.

"I'm totally against the usage of a one-year-old engine because then we have two classes of teams on the grid," Tost said.

"Then we have five, six, seven cars that are running away. They will have, after 10 laps, 30 seconds gap and races will become totally boring."

The proposal to ban wind tunnels has also met opposition from teams big and small, based on the principal that F1 should be using peak technology rather than banning it.

John Booth, team principal of Manor, said "I can see a time in the future when wind tunnels are banned totally but maybe not for the next two or three years."

Williams was clear in her opposition.

"We absolutely do not and will never vote for the banning of wind tunnels in Formula One," Williams said. "How can you operate at the pinnacle of motor sport and not use one of the finest tools in aerodynamics?"