Formula 1’s cost-cutting debate continues to rage on, despite some progress being made in a meeting of the FIA, commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone and team bosses in Geneva this week.
The teams unanimously agreed that they will develop cost-cutting and cost control plans to be presented to the FIA World Motorsport Sport Council in June, which will then rule on whether a budget cap will be imposed for the 2015 season.
“The FIA President reaffirmed to members of the WMSC the FIA’s intention to assure a healthy, affordable and spectacular FIA Formula One World Championship for the long-term future,” a statement from the sport’s governing body reads.
“At a meeting of the F1 Strategy Group yesterday, chaired by the FIA President, and attended by Bernie Ecclestone and the teams, it was unanimously agreed that cost reduction and cost control regulations will be presented to the WMSC in June 2014 for introduction in January 2015.”
Cost control has been an ever-escalating point of concern for a number of teams, particularly for those further down the grid, who have repeatedly argued that their very survival hinges on the introduction of a fixed budget cap.
Force India team principal Vijay Mallya is one such proponent of cost-capping.
“It should have happened a few years ago, but better late than never,” he told AUTOSPORT in December.
“Having been announced by the F1 Commission, I think we should all work towards actually making sure it happens.
“When this was first proposed [in 2009] there was a mechanism put in place to police it.
“Once you are agreed and all together it is almost incumbent upon a team principal to make sure the rules are followed.”
The F1 Strategy Group also agreed in principle to a number of the proposed rules changes put forth for the 2014 season:
The FIA stewards can impose a five-second time penalty which can be taken before work is carried out in a pit stop (meaning the driver will serve a five-second stop-go penalty in their pit box before the tyre changes are carried out;
Team personnel (specifically mechanics) must wear helmets during qualifying sessions in addition to during the races when in the pit lane;
Drivers may not stop their cars on their slowing-down lap to save enough fuel for sampling by the FIA; and
The number of ‘joker’ curfew breaches has been increased to six per team for the 2014 season (an increase from the original two), to allow the team greater flexibility in working on the new cars, which will be radically different and potentially more problematic due to the new technical regulations.
The tweaks will be put to the F1 Commission for ratification ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in March.