Szafnauer: Cost cap doesn’t have to be maxed out

Date published: May 2 2020 - Jamie Woodhouse

Racing Point

Racing Point team principal Otmar Szafnauer has reminded everyone that teams don’t have to reach the budget cap limit.

The budget cap, which will come in from 2021, was originally set at $175m per season with certain exclusions, but teams have agreed in principal to reduce it to $150m, while McLaren are pushing for $100m.

This is all in response to the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on teams, and Ferrari have threatened to quit Formula 1 if the cap goes below $145m, but Szafnauer says the limit helps both in terms of financial stability and the quality of racing in Formula 1. And remember, no team has to spend to that figure.

“The other thing that we have to remember is that [with] the cost cap you don’t have to spend the money,” he told Autosport.

“You don’t have to, even if the cost cap is $170m. We at Force India, for example, in dollar terms, with all the exclusions, we used to spend around just over $100m, say $110m.

“But there are lots of exclusions. So if you take out all the exclusions, my guess is we were spending around $70m. And that $70m got us to fourth [in the constructors” championship] – and a few times [2016 and 2017].

“If you’re at $170m, it doesn’t mean you have to spend $170m, but what it does mean is for you to win, you got to spend that $170m.

“So the cost cap is also a leveller in competitiveness, really, and the performance you can get out of it.

“We’ve got to be careful that we’re not just saying ‘cost cap for financial reasons’. The cost cap also helps with closing up the field.”

While it would favour Racing Point to have the cap set as low as possible, Szafnauer also can see why the big teams would feel persecuted.

“I can see both sides of the argument,” he explained.

“The bigger teams that today spend $300m-plus having to come down to $170m, $150m – or $100m [or] even lower – they’re screaming, saying, ‘Well, I’m going to have to cut a lot of people.

“‘That’s hard to do – and I’ve invested a lot of money because the rules were such that if I do invest, I get a better chance of winning. And now you’re trying to take that away from me, that’s unfair.’

“And then I can see the argument that Zak [Brown, McLaren CEO] makes, saying, ‘We need a realistic cost cap, where every team could be financially stable, if not even making a little bit of money – what’s wrong with that?’

“So I think the right cost cap should be somewhere in between, and we’re well on our way in everybody negotiating and discussing and coming up with a cost cap that’s either equally liked or equally disliked.”

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