The budget cap is increased by $4.37 million. And yet no team is happy with it. The top teams would have wished for more. You sweat to stay under the new limit. The small teams don't benefit from the extra money.
It took the ten teams, the FIA and Formula 1 to reach a compromise in the dispute over the budget cap. The breakthrough finally came on the Friday before the Austrian GP. The limit is raised. Instead of 141.2 million US dollars, the teams are now allowed to spend 145.5 million. For the big players in the industry - Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull - that's not enough, for the small ones too much. Alfa team boss Frederic Vasseur summarized with a wink. "I think it's a good compromise because nobody is happy with it."
Only one team voted against the proposal to raise the budget cap by 3.1 percent or $4.37 million due to high inflation and increased freight and energy costs. Alpine has been a hardliner in the debate from the start, insisting that pre-season rules are followed.
One vote against was not enough. "We have to accept it and make our peace with it," explains team manager Otmar Szafnauer. "That's the rule-finding process. If only one person opposes it, it's not enough." Alpine would have liked teams like Alfa-Romeo-Sauber, Williams and Haas to remain steadfast.
Maybe they were soft-boiled by their respective engine partners. They certainly gave in to spare Formula 1 possible penalties and court cases after the season. Once again, Alpine was made painfully aware that you are on your own in the field. The French do not have alliances like Mercedes (with McLaren, Aston Martin, Williams), Red Bull (with Alpha Tauri) and Ferrari (with Haas, Alfa Romeo).
Understanding for top teams
The small teams, which would not have exhausted the budget cap anyway, cannot do anything with the additional millions. If you don't have them, you can't spend them and invest in additional upgrades, for example. These include Alpine, Alfa-Sauber, Alpha Tauri, Haas and Williams. Raising all the additional money through new sponsors shouldn't be possible.
Alfa team boss Vasseur, who has long been one of the rebels in the dispute over the budget increase, now shows understanding for the situation of the top teams. "We have to remember that in the years before the budget cap they spent sums of over 300 million and are now allowed to spend less than 150 million."
Haas team boss Guenther Steiner adds: "The big teams wanted more, the small teams didn't want a surcharge at all. Now we met in the middle." The South Tyrolean cannot resist a small tip. "Normally Toto fights for himself.This time he found enough allies." This refers to Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. For once, the big teams were of the same opinion. Because it affects them equally with their team strength of between 850 and 1,000 employees.
Teams like McLaren and Aston Martin can do with that Compromise is probably the best thing to do. They planned to use the full budget cap, but were also under pressure because of the increased costs. "We can live well with the additional 3.1 percent," confirms McLaren race director Andreas Seidl.
Top teams have to save
For Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull it will also be a feat to stay below the 145.5 million. On the one hand, they are relieved to be able to spend a little more. On the other hand, the need to save remains. "Energy and freight costs as well as inflation skyrocketed in the last few months," says Toto Wolff. "The freight costs are still astronomical. At least energy expenditure is falling slightly and inflation seems to be stabilizing – albeit at a high level."
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto describes the Scuderia's perspective: "We had many meetings without a result. It was time to finally get a result. It was at the time limit to be able to act at all. Some teams were already threatening to overshoot the cap. My thanks go to the small teams for being constructive and giving in." Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull would in all probability have exceeded the previous upper limit without an increase - and maybe McLaren.
Red Bull had already threatened to have to lay off staff if necessary The top teams have to keep looking for potential savings." I think Red Bull, Ferrari and we're still ahead. Raising the budget cap is a help. Does she save us? Certainly not. We have to save," explains Wolff. It is still questionable what the penalty will be if it is exceeded. Before the increase, it was only said that everything over five percent would be punished draconically. FIA and Formula 1 will hope that everyone stays within the limits.