F1 financial regulations will be new ‘battleground’

Date published: June 14 2021 - Henry Valantine

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin

Aston Martin’s chief financial officer believes that the next “battleground” in Formula 1 will be about which team can use its budget the wisest.

A $145million budget cap came into force in the sport for the first time in Formula 1 history this season, which has limited spending throughout the grid.

This will be reduced to $140million in 2022 and then to $135million in 2023 as part of efforts to make the sport more financially sustainable.

Robert Yeowart, Aston Martin’s CFO explained how different teams will be affected by the budgetary restrictions, with the Silverstone-based team actively expanding its staff to 800 people to try and compete at the top.

“We’re slightly different from some of the other teams,” he said during a media call in conjunction with team partner IFS, quoted by MotorsportWeek.com.

“The big three [Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari] have to adjust and come down, whereas we are planning our future size to be in line with the cost cap so we’re actually growing towards it.

“I think what will happen is over the next couple of years, as the cap comes down to $135m in 2023, is the teams will all have grown to it or shrunk down to it, and then the battleground will be who is spending it the best.

“It will come to who understands what they’re spending it on, the best pound per lap time ratio, who’s getting that right, who is making sure they use their assets the best.

“And then putting in the analysis, the reporting tools, that allow us to really understand what we’re spending – that’s going to be critical.

“I think that will become almost as advantageous as how you interpret the technical regulations, which the tech guys have been doing for years and years and years.

“They absolutely know how to spot all the little loopholes and all the wrinkles [in the regulations], I think that’s going to be something that’s really interesting for us.”

Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin

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Yeowart says the finer details are still being ironed out as to what expenses will come within the budget cap and which are excluded, on which financial staff from up and down the grid are already seeking guidance – with the hope that the level financial playing field will eventually have the same effect for the racing on track.

“I think at the moment, because it’s early days, we’re seeing quite a number of clarifications come through from teams,” Yeowart said.

“Some of them are reasonably low-level, there’s been a lot of guidance issued by the FIA that sit alongside the regulations themselves and give colour to what they meant.

“The best example is probably health and safety; health and safety is excluded, so where does that start and end? It’s quite difficult to put boundaries around that.

“At one point, it was ‘is that the rear impact structure, as that’s safety, is that the monocoque, as that’s safety’; could you start excluding all of those things? So you need to tighten up some of what those definitions were at the beginning.

“I think so far within the CFO group we’ve got to a reasonably good point of common sense on these things.

“The more we can tighten up these definitions the more you get the level playing field.”

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