Guenther Steiner: F1 now almost at ‘level playing field’ with budget cap rules

Henry Valantine
Haas team boss Guenther Steiner at the Austrian Grand Prix. Spielberg, July 2022.

Haas' Guenther Steiner at the Austrian Grand Prix. Spielberg, July 2022.

Guenther Steiner has hailed the impact of the budget cap in Formula 1, saying it gives real hope that smaller teams such as Haas can move forward in the coming seasons.

A spending ceiling was brought into the sport in 2021 for all teams to abide by, with previously unlimited amounts of money being allowed to be spent on personnel and car development.

This did have a negative impact at the top end of the grid, with the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari having to lose members of staff and their salaries to come in under the new budgetary regulations.

This had a ripple effect the other way around however, as several former Ferrari employees headed over to Haas as they expanded their technical team, so they could increase their spending to get closer to the limit, set at $140m for the 2022 season.

After being rooted to the back of the field in 2021, Haas returned to being in the pack again last season, and the team principal thinks the impact of the budget cap cannot be underestimated in that – so it must be protected.

“I think it’s very important for Formula 1 that we keep this budget cap somehow managed in a way like it is now, because if you look at the championship this year, all the teams scored points, I think by the fifth race, everybody had scored points,” Steiner explained on Speedcafe’s KTM Summer Grill show.

“The gap between the first and the last is relatively small. You know, it shows that it works and going forward the gap will go down in my opinion, because you cannot outspend anybody anymore.

“Obviously the big teams, they had to make concessions, they had to let people go, they had to change their business model and what they’re doing, but for the small teams, I think I can speak for all of them, this is the best thing what’s happened in the last 50 years of Formula 1.

“We can all be playing on a level playing field, almost, maybe [they can spend] a little bit more but before the budgets of the big teams were two or three times of the small teams, it’s now maybe the big team spend 5 million more.

“Yeah, it’s 5 million, it’s a lot of money in that respect, but in Formula 1, 5 million doesn’t make this big difference like double or triple the amount they are spending.

“So I think it’s a very good thing and you can see the big teams didn’t lose any of their power anyway, you just [saw] everything got closer. But going forward, they need to work hard to keep that advantage.

“So I think for F1 in general it’s a very good thing and for the fans as well because every season [there] could be another team in two, three years going on the podium, which would be fantastic in my opinion, and we are really working hard that this budget cap somehow stays intact like it is now.”

While Haas remain one of the smallest teams on the grid, their team principal confirmed they are now operating at the limit of spending in Formula 1, as they look to find their way further up the pack in 2023 and beyond.

They will have an experienced driver line-up to help them do so in Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg, and Steiner added that talent is now theoretically the main differentiator between the teams, rather than resources.

“At the moment we are at the cost cap, and we are working very hard to get all our budget into the cost cap – not to spend the money outside the cost cap, to use it to make the car go fast,” Steiner revealed.

“At the moment we are at the budget cap and we need to be clever how we spend the money, that we get the best out of all the money we spend and to make progress.

“I always say to our technical team, in the old days it was always ‘oh, if we could have more money we will be World Champion’, now I say to them if we have got the biggest talent we will be World Champion one day because we have got all the same money.”

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