Formula 1 should give serious consideration once again to the imposition of a budget cap as a means of bringing down costs, according to leading teams.
Several F1 squads are open to the concept as they believe the sport must work much harder to ensure some teams are not priced out of existence. FIA president Jean Todt last week warned that grid numbers would fall if costs were not reduced by 30 percent over three years – and talks between the governing body and teams are ongoing to try and find a solution.
One idea that has gained momentum in recent discussions has been the return of a budget cap – which was first controversially proposed by former FIA president Max Mosley in 2009 but dropped following opposition from teams.
Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn says that her team has always been in favor of such a budget restriction, although she is well aware that it must be pitched at the right level.
"We for a while have been proposing a budget cap, which we are still convinced about because it will allow everyone to make use of their strengths," she said. "It would be a level playing field and everyone could go the way they wanted to, which I think would make the sport very exciting. But we should not start at a level that is even beyond what people are doing right now. Fans want to see competition between teams, and what strategic decision you take on the development side as well as on track."
Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn reckons that limits on spending are a better way forward than trying to clamp down through technical regulations.
"I think we welcome any fair and proper constraint on resources," he said, when asked whether he felt budget caps were the most viable way to reduce costs.
"There is no attraction to spending more than you have to, to have a successful and competitive F1," he added. "Most teams on the grid are perhaps not operating to those limits, but there are five or six teams on the grid who do operate to the upper limits. I cannot think any of those who would not want a reduction in how much it costs to be competitive in F1, as long as it is applied fairly and as long as it is not applied with any unintentional bias toward one car over another.
"We are firm supporters of the RRA, because we think that applied is something very simple. This year is X, next year it is X minus 20 percent and the year after it is X minus 40 percent, so it a very easy thing to pull down."
He added: "We have never demonstrated in all my years in F1 that there is any long-term successful way of reducing costs through technical regulation changes, apart from the constraint on engines and gearboxes which have been fairly successful. If you put constraints on all those [technical] things then we are in danger of spoiling the sport, and I would certainly advocate a restraint on resources. You cannot spend more than this; you cannot have more people than this and you have to do the best job you can with what you have got. Then you still allow innovation and you still allow the spirit of F1. For me it is definitely the way to go."
Lotus boss Eric Boullier believes that a budget cap was one of only three options that F1 could adopt to control costs.
"There are three ways: budget caps, maybe a more conservative technical and sporting regulations because I am sure there are changes to be made in sporting one to save money, and the RRA," he said. "But what happens is going to have to suit all the teams. There is not just one way: there are three ways to make sure we can control costs in F1."