Mercedes GP has called for a more hard-line approach to ensure that all Formula 1 teams are abiding by the Resource Restriction Agreement, amid renewed controversy about potential overspending.
All teams have signed up to abide by the RRA, which puts limit on the number of personnel they can have and how much they can spend over the course of a season. Yet a recent benchmark study of teams' activities by Dutch consultants Capgemini prompted fresh reports that Red Bull Racing had breached the agreement. This was strongly denied by the team, and there was no evidence to support such claims.
However, Mercedes GP team principal Ross Brawn believes that investigations into teams need to go much further than simply defining their activities – and that a full audit of spending must be undertaken.
"What we need with RRA is an independent audit of both the methodology and the numbers so we can all be comfortable," explained Brawn, whose team downsized dramatically when Honda pulled out of F1 at the end of 2008. "We achieved that with the aero testing. We have a university in Switzerland that comes to look at all the teams, looks at their CFD work, looks at their wind tunnel work and checks they are achieving the figures that they say they are. And we must achieve that with RRA – as it is the only way we can stop these accusations and innuendo.
"What has been done so far is a benchmarking of the methodology and not benchmarking of the numbers. The process done so far is to check that all teams are interpreting the regulations in the same way, and it has been successful. But we believe it has to go deeper than that, and we need auditing of the numbers because it is such a competitive element of what we do.
"Our cars are measured, they are weighed, and checked intermittently. The amount of money spent is a very strong influence for your competitiveness, and you need to have good control of it."
Brawn believes that the situation surrounding RRA is similar to that which F1 underwent several years with traction control – where teams were rumored to be running illegal driver aids but it was never proven.
"I think there is still work we need to do with RRA to get everybody comfortable," he said. "It is a great initiative and teams are working very well together, but this is a very competitive business so naturally the focus goes on the teams that are successful. I have had that experience myself.
"We have to take an objective view. I think where we have to end up with the RRA is the ability to fully audit all the requirements of the RRA and when we reach that stage, everybody is going to be comfortable, then some of the innuendo and accusations can stop, which is what we want to do.
"If you recall the days of traction control, people not knowing whether people did or did not have it, there were all sorts of accusations going around. And because we could not disprove it, somebody could come along and say, 'You have traction control,' and we could not disprove it until we got standard ECUs. Then the problem went away and nobody talked about it anymore."