Ferrari warning as FIA cost cap verdict looms: ‘The whole system’ could ‘collapse’

Jamie Woodhouse
Ferrari in front of Singapore skyline. Yas Marina October 2022.

Ferrari race director Laurent Mekies fears the budget cap may collapse as the potential first test of the system’s bite looms.

As Formula 1 returned to Singapore for the first time since 2019, the talk of Formula 1’s comeback to the nation, and the fantastic reception, proved to be a sub-plot.

There was a storm brewing, not the one that drenched the Marina Bay Circuit and delayed the race start, but instead the one in the paddock relating to the budget cap.

Rumours swirled that not all of the teams had adhered to the 2021 cost cap, the first season of its existence, with one team said to have gone way over budget, while another was a minor breach.

 

 

While still very much speculation, Red Bull have been targeted as the team that allegedly broke the cap with a major infraction, with Aston Martin name-dropped as the other alleged offender.

On Wednesday the FIA will issue certificates of compliance with the cap to teams, which will go a long way to clarifying the situation.

If there has been any non-compliance, then Mekies fears for the future of the system.

When speaking to reporters in Singapore, it was mentioned to Mekies that there is not yet a specific penalty stated for breaking the cap, in order to avoid setting up a scenario where teams could weigh up whether the budget overspend could actually be worth the risk.

“This is pretty much one of the main reason why we are banging [on] about transparency and severity because if it is… if it turns out to be something that a team can bet on in order to gain a competitive advantage, then the whole system collapses,” said Mekies at the Singapore GP press conference for team personnel.

“And this is why especially in the framework of the very first instance of the budget cap being challenged, you need that amount of severity.”

Haas principal Guenther Steiner and Alfa Romeo boss Frederic Vasseur were also quizzed on the matter, urging that the system must remain and not be scrapped.

“This is the thing: we really need to stick with it,” said Steiner.

“We are not at the cost cap this year but the process which is put in place, it’s a lot of work, but it is, I wouldn’t say difficult, but you need to put the effort in.

“I think the big teams have got the bigger effort to put in because they are at the cost cap, they know they’re always going against it. But it is all doable.

“I think all the teams understand how you have to follow the rules. It’s then if you take chances on it, okay, you know that you take chances. It’s sometimes like going racing. Sometimes you take chances and they can go wrong. But it’s nothing else than a rule clearly written.

“I think it made Formula 1 a better sport and I would say all the teams know what they are doing.

Vasseur added: “We knew from the beginning when we voted for the cost cap that it will be difficult, first to put in place for the big teams and then to police it, but now we took the decision and we have to go for it.

“There is no way back and we can’t stop it. I mean that for sure it was a huge amount of work, probably much more for the big teams than for us, but in those ones we are also smaller and I think also we have to consider the huge amount of work done by the FIA to inspect all the teams.

“And when I see the job that we did with the FIA on the cost cap and I think it’s mega that at the end of the day that I can’t imagine now because that we have the first issue, we stop everything.

“When you have a new technical regulation, it’s always also difficult to put in place and we have tons of discussions behind the stage about the regulation and we don’t stop after the first issue.”

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