Although the FIA has often been accused of Ferrari favoritism, former FIA president Max Mosley was recently critical of the team, insisting that that the Maranello-based outfit scuttled his plans to bring down the cost of racing in Formula 1. Mosley told F1 Racing “Between January and May in 2008, we had a series of meetings and everyone was agreed on the cost-cap and the methodology – but Ferrari were always against it.”
Mosley led an initiative to introduce a mandatory $60 million budget cap for Formula 1 teams. It was on the basis of this initiative that this year’s new teams made their applications to join the sport. The budget cap was never fully approved by the established teams, however. The teams opted instead to implement a “restricted resources” strategy, which would impose limits the size of the teams, rather than their budgets.
By the end of next year, teams will be allowed no more than 280 employees, which for the larger teams could represent a 75% reduction. In Reaganomics terminology, I suppose this would be called a “demand side” approach to budget reduction. Smaller staffs mean smaller payroll outlays, which should have a favorable impact on overall budget levels. Ferrari are currently reputed to be the best-funded team on the grid, with a budget reportedly approaching $400 million. What percentage of this is spent on payroll is anyone’s guess.
Of course, this ignores a basic truth known by every U.S. Congressman: a dollar budgeted is a dollar spent. In other words, if the money is available, teams will find a way to spend it, if not on personnel, then probably on new technology. For example, under the current in-season test ban rules, teams are relying increasingly on sophisticated simulators to conduct virtual tests. While relying on this technology might not be as expensive as on-track testing (which, after all, required transport and the deployment of a full shadow-team of mechanics and engineers), it surely can’t be cheap.
Max Mosley, never shy about expressing an opinion, has offered a blunt assessment regarding Ferrari’s reluctance to accept budget caps. “I think it’s because they know that if they had the same amount of money to spend as the other teams, they would fail,” he said.
He also implied that Fiat/Ferrari CEO Luca di Montezemolo, who represented the team in negotiations, had been manipulated by team management into opposing the budget caps. “Luca is very, very good with people and he’s certainly a very personable, pleasant person, but, in my opinion, he’s also a very weak character so he’s easily led,” Mosley said.
So much for Ferrari favoritism.