The 2020 cost of chasing a 2021 advantage

Image by Dunbar/LAT

The 2020 cost of chasing a 2021 advantage

Formula 1

The 2020 cost of chasing a 2021 advantage


Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says Formula 1’s top teams will face an extremely challenging and expensive 2020 chasing an advantage before the new 2021 regulations come into play.

New for 2021 is a budget cap which will be introduced at the same time as new technical regulations that have the potential to radically shake up the grid. With development of the new car taking place next year without the influence of the budget cap, and Pirelli keen to test new 18-inch tires on development cars, Horner says the big teams must spend huge amounts of money trying to gain an advantage from multiple avenues.

“What you have to remember about the budget cap is that it’s fixed for a five-year period, so for the top three teams, certainly, it will be a considerable challenge to position themselves to get under that cap for 2021 onwards,” Horner said. “And then once we are there, we have to stay there for five years.

“So while there may still be some divergence between the smaller teams and the larger teams (initially) over a period of time, hopefully as revenues continue to grow within the sport given the plans that Liberty (has) for it — and the growth that they expect to see during the next five years — I think things will naturally converge. (But) the frustration about the regulations are it makes next year very expensive. We will have, effectively, three things going on: the current car to develop; tire testing on behalf of Pirelli with a sort of an interim car; and then the development of a new car to a new set of regulations.

“Next year is a big challenge.”

Alfa Romeo team principal Fred Vasseur agrees that the big teams will be able to exploit the lack of a budget cap next season but says it is important the technical regulations remain largely the same for a number of seasons to allow the grid to close up.

For Alfa Romeo’s Frederic Vasseur and others, stability of the 2021 F1 regulations over an extended period is key. Image by Bloxham/LAT

“(Our) situation is a bit different compared to the big teams but for sure the budget cap won’t affect at all six or seven teams on the grid,” Vasseur said.

“It will affect the top teams, but they will have more resources to develop the new car next year as Christian said.

“The most important thing for me,” Vasseur added, “is the stability of the regulations over the (five-year) period. If we change the regulations again in ’23 or ’24, it will be very difficult for the small teams to have an advantage.”