Caterham owner Tony Fernandes says that self-interest means Formula 1 teams have missed an opportunity to cut costs in the sport.
Fernandes entered the sport in 2010 on the promise of a budget cap, which was ultimately abandoned.
“I’ve been consistent since day one I’ve been in Formula One that costs are too high and every… when I came into Formula One, people talked to me about costs coming down but I don’t think there’s been a single year it’s come down,” he said.
“I think next year will be probably the highest year – so I think there’s something fundamentally wrong. I don’t think it’s just the engine, by the way, I think the teams lost out an opportunity to get costs under control. I think self-interest overrode the sport and we are as much to blame for this problem as an engine.”
“The teams had a wonderful opportunity to try and create a fair, equitable split so that the sport is sustainable. I’m obviously in another sport where I think the difference between the top and the bottom is not as great as between the top and the bottom in Formula One.”
“If you look at the Premier League, the winner of the Premier League share of prize versus the team at the bottom is not as spread out. I think teams had an opportunity but I go back to my very first point: that teams looked at things on an individual basis as opposed to working together in FOTA and trying to find a win-win situation for everyone and create a very healthy environment in a sustainable sport. We screwed it up, it’s as simple as that.”
Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost agrees with Fernandes’s assessment.
“Next year’s power unit package costs are double the price of this years and we are always talking of reducing the costs,” said Tost.
“Regarding now that power unit, on the one hand we must say Formula One is the peak of motorsport and we should come with new innovations. I think the new package from another point of view is quite economical and is quite interesting – but it costs us a huge amount of money.”
“But the teams are stupid enough to decide to do tests during the season. This is totally a waste of money because we have eight test days and as soon as the car goes out on the track it costs money. But the teams want to do it. On the one hand they’re complaining they don’t have money, on the other hand, they throw it through the window. It’s a little bit difficult to understand for me but we were voted down because we were against the tests. And who wants the tests? The rich teams. As usual.”
Eric Boullier, Lotus team principal, agrees that costs need to be reduced.
“It’s true that Formula One is costing too much money and regarding the next year engine, F1 needs technology, this is the pinnacle of motorsport,” he said.
“I think just rather than blaming engine or not, it’s more about the process, about how this technology has been developed and sold to the team, which should have been controlled more. F1 needs technology, we need car manufacturers, we need obviously sponsors but we cannot afford to spend more and more every year.”
“I was not there personally but last decade car manufacturers were in this place and the lowest budget in F1 was around $250m and the highest about $400m. Today it’s not the case anymore and the smallest budget is around $60m and the highest is around $250m. But still, it’s… you multiply by four. If you want to be competitive you need to spend unfortunately some money, because you cannot afford if not, and you cannot be competitive then… This is a circle: you are not attractive, you do not bring in any new sponsors… so where is the balance?”
“I think it’s a complicated debate. Obviously all the teams should stick together first, which is obviously something very difficult to do, and also sit down with Bernie and the FIA and make sure the regulations are stable at least for the next few years. I think in the new strategy committee we have a chance to voice what we would like to do. That’s going to be the first step, to make sure we go to a sustainable Formula One.”