2020 was expected to be a turning point year for Formula 1: with most of the drivers out of contract and an incoming massive rule change, the 70th F1 World Championship was settled to be a year full of commitment and, moreover, expenses for all the teams. But plans got overturned when Coronavirus turned into a worldly spread pandemic, forcing the Circus into the path of an economic crysis.
Following the Australian’s GP controversy, Formula 1 remedial actions were quickly put on the table and approved by all the teams: technical regulation changes, including the reintroduction of ground effect, have been postponed to 2022 and the new budget cap for 2021 has been lowered from 170 to 150 million dollars. McLaren, in particular, is even asking for an even higher reduction to $ 100m, but front runner teams -having to face massive extra R&D costs as components constructors and suppliers- opposed.
FIA president Jean Todt, interviewed by Auto Motor Und Sport, makes clear that those damage lessens may just not be enough to keep every team surfacing through the waves. It’s indeed estimated that every postponed or cancelled race represents a $2m worth sunk-cost for every team, threatening the stability even of more established companies.
“[Even by dropping the cap more] we cannot rule out the loss of some teams and I hope we do not get into this situation.”
The Frenchman, from his FIA’s president role, is trying to have an even wider look to what the consequences of Covid-19 for Formula 1 as a whole could be: “[After the eventuality of some drop-offs] then we would have to ask ourselves fundamental questions with the holders of commercial rights, such as: what should Formula One look like in the future? In the worst-case scenario, Formula One as we know it today would no longer be possible.”
Such a strong consideration refers also to the budget cap debate, which –according to Todt- won’t work as a magic wand. Smaller teams indeed fear that even with a $150m cap, they still won’t be able to compete at the top, concern to which Todt replied: “I understand this position, but I do not believe in miracles. The differences between the big and smaller teams must be narrowed, but we must not start to dream. It will never be the case that a small team can compete regularly against a large team on an equal footing."
“We must not lie to ourselves. If we are talking about 120, 130 or 140 million dollars, that is the cost cap without exceptions, for the big teams, the exemptions make up more than 100 percent of the cost cap. Now, when the budget cap is reduced, they have even expressed the wish to extend the exemptions. But I am against it.”