GLIMPSE OF THE FU­TURE

F1 Racing (UK) - - INSIDER -

03

Un­cer­tainty over en­gines is not only oc­cu­py­ing the minds of those at Red Bull, it is also cen­tral to dis­cus­sions over the fu­ture of For­mula 1 it­self.

The sport’s gov­ern­ing body, the FIA, have set an end of May dea­dine to re­solve the de­bate over the en­gine rules from the 2021 sea­son. On 17 April, the FIA is­sued a state­ment re-it­er­at­ing their de­sire to re­move the MGU-H from 2021. This is the part of the hy­brid sys­tem that re­cov­ers en­ergy from the turbo. While it al­lows the

“IF THERE ARE ANY PRO­POS­ALS THAT DIS­TORT F1, I THINK FER­RARI WILL PULL OUT Ser­gio Mar­chionne

cur­rent F1 en­gines to have rev­o­lu­tion­ary lev­els of ef­fi­ciency, it is also ex­pen­sive, com­plex, blamed for much of the cur­rent dis­par­ity be­tween en­gines, and re­spon­si­ble to a large ex­tent for their muted sound.

The four en­gine man­u­fac­tur­ers wrote to the FIA be­fore the sea­son say­ing they wanted to keep the MGU-H. But in­sid­ers say that when its re­moval was proposed by the FIA at a meet­ing of the strat­egy group of lead­ing teams, F1 and the FIA on the 17th, no one re­ally ob­jected.

As such, the MGU-H is re­garded as part of a ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion by the lead­ing teams in the wider de­bate about F1 post-2021 – namely on the rev­enue split, cost con­trol and tech­ni­cal rules (see James Allen col­umn page 29).

F1’s com­mer­cial rights hold­ers Lib­erty Me­dia made a pre­sen­ta­tion to the teams at the Bahrain GP on how they wanted to re­struc­ture the sport. This in­cluded a $150m bud­get cap and a more eq­ui­table dis­tri­bu­tion of prize money be­tween the teams as part of a de­sire to en­sure, as it was de­scribed in an F1 state­ment, that “how you spend the money must be more de­ci­sive and im­por­tant than how much money you spend”. Among changes planned are more stan­dard parts – on items such as gear ra­tios and brake ducts, be­lieved to be of min­i­mal im­por­tance to the pub­lic.

Re­ac­tion from the teams has been muted, not least be­cause all had to sign a con­fi­den­tial­ity agree­ment at the meet­ing. Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff de­scribed it as “a good start­ing point for dis­cus­sions”, while Fer­rari chair­man Ser­gio Mar­chionne said: “We are work­ing with Lib­erty Me­dia to find ac­cept­able solutions”, but re­peated his threat that “if there are any pro­pos­als that dis­tort F1, I think Fer­rari will pull out” (see cover story, page 36).

De­spite the con­fi­den­tial­ity, some de­tails have leaked out, and Fer­rari are the team most af­fected by the proposed prize money changes. Lib­erty have sug­gested cut­ting the bonus they cur­rently re­ceive for their historic value to the sport from about $100m to $40m. Fer­rari would re­ceive the $10m bonus proposed for all en­gine man­u­fac­tur­ers on top of that.

The prize money split be­tween the teams has not been re­vealed. But sources say the proposed new struc­ture mir­rors the cur­rent one: a prize fund split into two chunks or ‘col­umns’, one paid out in an even divi­sion be­tween the 10 teams; the other based on per­for­mance in the pre­vi­ous sea­son. How­ever, the gaps be­tween the teams in what is known as ‘col­umn two’ are much re­duced.

There is also a proposed change to the over­all in­come split of F1. Cur­rently, the teams re­ceive 67.5 per cent of the pot and F1 the rest. Un­der the new pro­posal, if in­come is about what it is now – $1.5bn – that split re­mains sim­i­lar. If in­come goes down, the teams get a greater per­cent­age; if it goes up, the teams’ per­cent­age is smaller.

In other words, Lib­erty are ef­fec­tively propos­ing ringfenc­ing a ball­park fig­ure for the teams of about what they earn in to­tal as a body now, while For­mula 1 will not only take on the risk of any drop in rev­enue, but also ben­e­fit more from any rise.

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