New F1 teams set for budget cap boost
The introduction of a voluntary budget cap that will attract new teams into Formula 1 is expected to be given the green light by the FIA at its World Motor Sport Council meeting in Paris tomorrow, AUTOSPORT has learned, even though current teams have balked at providing a realistic figure to set it at.
FIA president Max Mosley asked teams last week if they could provide him with an idea of what a good financial level the cap should be set at. The original proposal of £30 million ($43m) is widely accepted as being too low.
Although teams subsequently wrote to Mosley to say that they wanted more time to discuss the matter, AUTOSPORT has learned that this has not stopped the FIA pressing ahead with plans to discuss the budget cap at its WMSC meeting tomorrow.
Although the hearing in Paris was originally called to discuss the lying controversy surrounding McLaren, it is understood that the FIA is to use the opportunity to push through F1's 2010 sporting regulations – which will include the budget cap and entry to the championship.
Despite the teams having not provided a counter argument to the £30 million figure, it is believed that the FIA may choose to keep the final level open pending future discussions with the teams.
However, it will be confirmed that what will become known as the "Cost Regulated Teams," will be given technical and sporting freedoms compared to those outfits that choose to retain an unlimited budget. As well as movable wings, an improved underfloor and a higher revving engine, cost regulated teams may also be allowed unlimited in-season testing.
Leading F1 team figures are not opposed to the introduction of a budget cap, but are adamant that it needs to be introduced at the right level.
Toyota president John Howett told AUTOSPORT: "I think it is quite a complex issue. I think the question is, what is included and what is not included? Our position at Toyota is that driver salaries should be included if we are serious about actually reducing total costs. There are differences of opinion, of the inclusions and also what happens to people who are supplying engines, as they need a bigger budget. Do we therefore exclude engines?
"So I think nobody actually objects on a major basis, providing it is a high enough gap to be reasonable to our employees with a glide path down that is sensible, and the right discussion and understanding of what is included."
Should the budget cap concept get approval by the FIA WMSC tomorrow, then it will pave the way for a host of new teams to enter F1.
AUTOSPORT understands that it is likely the entries for the 2010 championship will be opened at the end of May, with 13 team slots to be made available in a move to attract new blood into the sport. Team USF1, Lola, Prodrive and iSport have already gone public in expressing an interest in entering F1.
As well as getting the budget cap, AUTOSPORT has learned that the three new teams that enter F1 in 2010 could be given $10 million in television rights money and some transportation costs in exchange for constructing their own car and signing up to F1 for a five-year period from 2010 to 2014.