Bernie Ecclestone has weighed in on the cost cap debate currently dominating Formula 1’s political scene, and has questioned why teams cannot work to cut costs themselves without the imposition of budget limits.
Many efforts have been made over the past five years to introduce a cost cap in Formula 1 after spiralling costs have threatened the future of a number of teams, and has claimed a number of high-profile scalps. Honda, Toyota and BMW all left the sport between 2008 and 2009 due to spiralling costs, but little has changed economically since then.
For Ecclestone, it is simply a case of the teams looking in the mirror and finding a way to self-regulate.
“The teams can cut costs so why don’t they spend less? I don’t think they need a budget cap,” he told The Independent. “The people who don’t need a budget cap will find their way round it.”
The teams further down the grid – Caterham, Marussia, Sauber and Force India in particular – have been pushing for a cost cap in order to become more competitive. However, without having a secure future in the sport, Ecclestone believes that it is unreasonable for them to expect to have a say.
“There are four teams that are not in the Strategy Group and why not? Because the people that are have committed to racing in Formula One to 2020 and have put up sensible guarantees if they don’t,” he said.
The 83-year-old also used the cost cap debate to deal yet another blow to the new engines, believing that the price of implementing them was far too great.
“Tell me, what was the idea of the cap? To keep costs down. So we put this engine in and it costs four times more than the other one, and costs the manufacturers a hell of a lot of money,” Ecclestone pointed out.
Although the teams should indeed be able to cut costs and keep an eye on their own finances, the pursuit of race wins and championships is almost entirely dependent on spending power. All of the successful teams in recent history – Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, Renault and McLaren – have a product backing them (although McLaren is a semi-exception).
The likes of Sauber and Marussia, on the other hand, exist to race, making financial solvency difficult at times. They will not be giving up on the cost cap, even if the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari are happy to spend as much as it takes to win.
Is it really possible for the teams facing financial difficulties to commit to the sport until 2020? And should they really be excluded from the ‘big boy’ strategy group because of this?
Without a cost cap, the teams will continue to spend and spend. They should be able to self regulate, but guidance is required.
This debate will, as it has done for five years now, only continue to rumble on and claim more victims.