The FIA, led by its controversial president Max Mosley, have today delivered the biggest shock to the sport in its modern history. From 2010 teams in Formula One will have the option of racing almost unlimited cars but under a budget cap set at just €33million a season. Everything will be included in that budget including driver’s salaries, almost all of which are going to have to be slashed. The only element that seems to be excluded from the cap are the cost of motorhomes.
The swingeing new regime has been passed into “law” by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council in Paris and comes into force at the beginning of 2010. It has the support of Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA believes that – although the cap is voluntary – the motor manufacturers and independent teams will see it as a no-brainer and will go with it. Whether that is true remains to be seen.
Among big issues which immediately arise are whether the cap has been set too low, how easy it is going to be to police, whether big car manufacturers will want to take part in a low-budget version of a sport which is designed to showcase their wares in a glamorous and aspirational setting, and how, in general, the teams will react. Many have contractual obligations which will have to be broken and most have invested huge sums in people and machinery that now looks as if it will not be required.
Has the FIA over-reacted in the face of a world economic downturn which it believes Formula One has to address in the most forthright way? Mosley’s view is that the recent cost-cutting agreements by the teams are a case of rearranging the deckchairs and something altogether more comprehensive was required.