As of the 2021 Formula 1 season, a binding budget cap will apply to all teams. The teams are only allowed to spend a maximum of 175 million US dollars per year.
However, the cost cap is a deceptive package in some respects. After all, many expenses, such as driver salaries, are not included. As a result, the upper limit will probably not affect several teams at all.
Haas team boss Günther Steiner, for example, answers the question as to whether Haas has already planned savings for 2021 with a laugh:
“No, because we haven’t found any additional money! So we don’t have to do anything, because it doesn’t concern us at all”.
Of course, Haas and most of the grid would even have to increase his budget to reach 175 million US dollars.
Renault team boss Cyril Abiteboul also revealed months ago that his team would have to increase financially to reach the 175 million. For Haas, however, this is not an option, as Steiner points out.
“We’re sticking to what we have. We are very conservative about such things. Because the teams that increase their budget now will complain if [the upper limit] is lowered again,” he explains.
Steiner’s hope is clear: the 175 million should only be a first step.
“Let’s wait for the first two years. From 2023 it could change,” explains the team boss, who wants to take one step at a time.
“Let’s see how it works. But I don’t think we should be premature here and talk about what we’ll do in the next step,” says Steiner.
“We’re still a year away from the first,” he recalls. At least he is confident that the cost cap will push the field together.
“The gap will not widen. The big teams will have to restrict themselves a bit. It’s a difficult challenge for them,” he explains.
Because at least the three top teams will be affected by the upper limit.
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“The best thing is that they can’t increase their budget any further,” says Steiner and explains: “Otherwise the gap will get bigger, and at some point it won’t make sense to be here – if the gap is two seconds. If a large company has a budget of 300 million and then lowers it by five percent, that’s a lot of money.”
That’s why Steiner understands that driver salaries don’t fall under the cost cap in the first step. “If you think about the big companies with the big drivers, it wouldn’t be realistic if [the drivers] fell below the upper limit. It wouldn’t work with what they pay the drivers,” Steiner knows.
So would employees switch to the midfield teams?
“Of course I don’t know exactly how much they pay them, but they’re not cheap. I think at some point it should come in,” says Steiner.
“But now we first have to support this upper limit and then think about the next steps. We have to make sure that it can be controlled, that everyone is happy and that we find the little things that we still have to adjust,” he explains.
“After that, maybe we can take the next step,” says Steiner. So where could the top teams around Mercedes and Co. save from 2021? Possibly in terms of personnel. This could give midfield teams like Haas the opportunity to entice away one or two of these engineers and staff members from teams like Mercedes. But according to Steiner, nobody has been knocking yet.
“But of course it’s true that people need new jobs if you let them go,” says the Haas team boss.
“Maybe they get paid so well there that they don’t need a new job, I don’t know,” laughs Steiner.
“But there will come a point where these people will knock [on other teams]. But that hasn’t happened yet,” he stresses.
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