As the Formula one race calendar keeps on growing, the teams are rotating their staff who attend the races more and more. Gone are the days when being a grease monkey mechanic for a top motorsport driver saw single young men dedicate their lives to trebling the world with little time at home. Reports are emerging that Toto Wolff has planned to return home from Singapore and not attend the Japanese GP.
Adrian Newey, Chief Technical Officer of Red Bull Racing has in recent years cut the number of Formula One events he attends.
With the budget cap looming and carbon footprint becoming an increasing issue, the F1 teams began some years ago to relocate a number of their data analysts and strategists back at the factory for race weekends and the number of team personnel attending events now is around half of the number it was 10 years ago.
F1 race personnel being rotated
Formula One logistics which set up the circuits for the FIA timing, TV cables and cameras along with a host of other necessary activities has developed rotating teams and two hold sets of circuit equipment. This means as one team is finishing setup in say Belgium, the next is on their way to Holland.
This is the only way to deliver rest and holiday breaks for the myriads of people who deliver an F1 race weekend.
Broadcasters have been following a similar route rotating their presenters, commentators and special analysts, though annoyingly this means at times we get all their ‘B’ timers covering a less popular or more remote event.
Wolff not going to Japan
Toto Wolff revealed last weekend to Associated Press he was not planning to attend the Japanese GP.
“There are a few individuals that can take over some of my tasks. Not physically being at the race meeting doesn’t mean that I am not at the race,” said the Mercedes boss.
“I have a full intercom setup. There is a race support room at the factory, and I will be part of every single debriefing. I just won’t be there physically.”
Yet Toto’s original decision made some time ago to return home for the Japanese GP may have an ulterior motive. On Wednesday before the Suzuka race the FIA will issue the teams who have not broken the cost cap limit with certificates of compliance.
Tin foil hatters could reasonably speculate he is dodging the event so as not to face the media were difficult questions be raised over Mercedes spending in 2021.
Toto may want to harass Red Bull
However it seems Toto may be having a change of heart and be off to Suzuka anyway.
Following his repeated accusations in Singapore that Red Bull racing had “massively” exceeded the 2021 cost cap, it would be strange if Toto were not in Japan to ramp up the pressure on the FIA were the Milton Keynes to be in breach.
The FAI has allowed a leeway for teams of a 5% overspend of the $145m cost cap allowed in 2021. This is only reasonable as F1 teams cannot plan how many crashes their drivers will have and how much last minute costs will be incurred to ensure they attend the final few races of the season.
Small overspend should be no big deal
In 2014, Caterham and Marrusia were forced to miss the USA and Brazilian GP due to lack of funds.
Christian Horner warned earlier this season that if inflation kept rising teams may miss GP events to stay within budget or the cost cap.
“You’d almost be at the point where I think for certain teams, from numbers that were presented earlier in the week, that they would have to probably miss a few grands prix to even get anywhere near the numbers.”
However, Wolff tried to change the game, stating that even minor breaches of $1m “could be worth up to half a second”.
So even if as is reported today in the Daily Mail, Red Bull will come in just $1m over the cost cap, surely Wolff will want to be there to hammer home the penalty issued by the FIA musty be severe.
The lion of Singapore put on a defensive masterclass to bring it home P8. Great job, Seb!
— Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) October 4, 2022