Formula One is close to an agreement on a budget cap as part of wide-ranging deal to ensure the sport is sustainable and able to field a much more competitive grid in future. The sporting director, Ross Brawn, believes that F1 and the FIA reached a proposal on Monday that they hope will be accepted by the teams when presented to them this week.
Debate over the budget cap has been ongoing for over a year and has become increasingly crucial because of the financial implications of the coronavirus outbreak.
After a drawn-out process during 2019, the teams had agreed to a budget cap of $175m (£142m) for 2021. However with 10 races called off this season and F1 facing a serious fall in revenue there has been a renewed urgency to attempt to further cut costs. Recent meetings had proposed a new ceiling of $145m but failed to reach agreement. McLaren have urged the sport to act decisively in targeting a cap of $100m while Ferrari and Red Bull have opposed a drop below $145m.
Brawn is hopeful the latter figure will be accepted but F1 and the FIA still want to reduce it further over the next few years. The FIA president, Jean Todt, is understood to be in favour of a cap of $120m.
“There’s been a lot of consultation and we’re now at the very final stages,” he said. “The budget cap’s initial objectives were a more competitive field and with the situation we have now the economic sustainability of Formula One is a priority. That counts as much for the big teams as it does for small teams. It has become very clear from those who stand above the team principals and the management of these teams, we’ve got to cut costs and therefore there’s another step in the reduction in the cost cap.
“We started with $175m, that was a long battle to get it there. With the current crisis, we’re now going to start at $145m and the discussion really is how much further down we can drive it in the next few years.”
Part of the original impetus behind the cap was to narrow the gap between the big three teams – Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull – and the rest of the grid. Brawn explained that fairer revenue distribution set to be included in the new commercial deal for 2021 – the concorde agreement – would act alongside spending limits in levelling the playing field.
“There’s going to be a much more equitable prize fund in the new agreement,” he said. “The midfield teams in particular are going to be much better off in terms of their portion of the prize money, so it’s being balanced in every direction. We reduce the amount of money that can be spent in F1 and we’re improving the distribution of the prize fund more evenly amongst the teams.
“So a good midfield team should be able to score podiums, maybe be a winner and it should make a small profit. If we can achieve that when we have got a very sustainable future.”