Red Bull’s warning F1 teams may miss races “exaggerated” RaceFans

Red Bull’s rivals reacted with scepticism to team principal Christian Horner’s suggestion more than half of the field might have to miss races this year.

Horner claimed seven teams would have to sit out four of the 22 races on the 2022 F1 calendar if nothing was done in response to the high rate of inflation which has made it harder for the teams to stay within the sport’s cost cap.

Teams are limited to a maximum expenditure of £111.3 million ($140m) this year with certain additional allowances and exceptions. However, a rapid increase in the costs of freight, energy and materials since the start of the year, partly as a consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have left teams who expected to be close to the limit in danger of exceeding it.

Red Bull was previously one of F1’s top-spending teams. Horner has urged the FIA ​​to offer concessions to the budget cap or risk teams having to miss races.

“We need the FIA ​​to address the inflationary issue because I think basically about seven of the teams probably will need to miss the last four races to come within the cap this year from the consensus there has been up and down the paddock,” he said.

Grid, Miami International Autodrome, 2022
Seven of the 10 teams could miss races, Horner claimed

“It’s not just about the big teams now, it’s the teams in the middle of the field that are really struggling with the inflationary rate that we’re seeing that could even get worse in the second half of the year.”

He believes the FIA ​​is “taking it very seriously” and is keen to see them take action. “You’d almost be at the point where I think for certain teams, from numbers that were presented earlier in the week, that they would have to probably miss a few grands prix to even get anywhere near the numbers.

“I think nobody wants to be in that position, which is why I think for the second six months of the year the FIA ​​need to address the issue because things like energy bills and just cost of living,” he added.

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“We see in each of the countries that you guys come from that the costs are going [up] exponentially. And Formula 1 is not exempt. Freight has quadrupled and that’s not something we can control.”

However Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack doubts there is a genuine risk of teams skipping races to save money.

“I think it’s a bit exaggerated to miss races, honestly,” he said. “I don’t think that is going to happen.”

Aston Martin support steps to ease the impact of rising costs

If rival teams do have to miss rounds, “then the other teams have more points”, said Krack. “That’s my answer to this.

“The technical rules, the sporting rules, the financial rules, we try to comply with all three of them. I think now it is the time to make the right choices, if you overspend now, then obviously it will be tight later.

“We have very good cost monitoring, I think we are also quite efficient in terms of how we spend. So from that point of view, we are not in a position where we would say we would not make races. But we are also watching now what we are going to do for Monza, for these special races, you have to make these decisions.”

Krack believes allowances should be made for the increase in costs, but care should be taken to ensure they do not give breaks to teams who have over-spent.

“I think the cost cap should not just be increased because some people are just not having their cost under control. But if the cost with the situation with Russia and Ukraine drove the energy prices extremely high, air freight is very high, and this you could now plan in any budget.

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“So that’s also why we support an increase based on inflation, but not an increase per se.”

Teams are more likely to shell development plans, such as special low-downforce packages for venues like Monza, than miss races entirely, Krack believes.

“We have constant cost monitoring. We have aerodynamic monitoring or any kind of monitoring that you have. So we have a very good overview week-by-week where we are in terms of what we are spending and what the costs will be.

“Before we decide, for example, a Monza package or a Monza wing, we know what this is costing us and we know how much money we will have if we make it.”

Limiting crash damage will also be important to stay within the spending limits, said Krack. “We have obviously some margin for crashes and stuff like that. If we repeat the Melbourne thing every weekend, then we will not do a Monza [package]!”

He believes the majority of teams are in favor of introducing some form of financial relief, but some see an opportunity to limit their rivals’ development.

“There is not many teams opposing,” said Krack, “I think there has been three opposing.

Teams may not produce low-drag aero kits to save money

“I think it is mainly to limit others’ development. That for me is a strategic choice because they also have higher costs, everybody has higher costs, and probably if the cost cap is increased they don’t have the budget that is required and they probably, but this is only an assumption, probably it’s a strategic [plan].”

Alpine is one of the teams which does not support making changes to the financial restrictions due to the rise in inflation.

“We’ve set our budgets out early,” said team principal Otmar Szafnauer. “We kind of anticipated a little bit of the inflation – inflation just didn’t creep up on us..

“If you look back in December the RPI [retail price index] was already at 7% and most teams do their budgets between November and December for the following year. So for us, it wasn’t a surprise, therefore, we planned for it.

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“We’re still under the cap, even though we didn’t plan for as high a freight cost as we are now experiencing. But we’re still under. If we can do it, for sure others can do it too. So I’m not for just increasing the cap.”

Teams which are at risk of exceeding the limit can make savings by reducing how much they spend on development, said Szafnauer.

Sharp inflation rise “didn’t creep up” on Alpine

“I know what our budget is and I know budgets that I’ve experienced in the past,” he said. “There’s a significant amount of money in the development budget for a year, especially in a year where the regulations are all-new. You put in a lot of money for development because ultimately this year’s a development race.

“So when freight costs go up by two and a half million, three and a half million, but your development budget is 20, say, can you not make your development budget 17 and still be under the cap? You can.

“But what that then does, is it limits your development here in a development race. So it’s a lot easier, if you have the money, to go to the FIA ​​and lobby to raise the cap and keep your development budget the same.”

Following the Miami Grand Prix, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto questioned whether Red Bull would be able to sustain the rate of development they had maintained early in the season.

Szafnauer questioned whether Horner seriously believes teams are in danger of missing races.

“That would be really good,” he said. “It’ll move us up in the championship and I welcome that. Should we plan for that? Or is he just being facetious?”

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