The FIA World Motor Sport Council has formally approved significant Formula 1 rule changes over the next three years, including budget cap levels and aerodynamic testing restrictions.
As reported last week, the budget cap will start at $145 million next year and drop to $140m in 2021 before lowering even further to $135m over the following three-year period. Changes to some of the exceptions allowed in the budget cap have also been finalized, including items that relate to the well-being of employees, and an increase in bonuses to a total of $12m per year.
On top of that, significant aerodynamic testing restrictions (ATR) have been introduced, initially to save costs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic but later to try and level the playing field between teams.
From 2021, ATR limitations will be tied linearly to a team’s championship position. The defending champions will get the least amount of time for aerodynamic testing, and the team finishing bottom of the constructors’ championship will get the most.
Immediate changes that will impact on the current season and next include the freezing of many components in order to save costs. The list includes the chassis, gearbox, a number of mechanical components and impact structures, while there is a token system in place to allow teams to make “a very limited number of modifications” as required.
There are also limits to power unit upgrades in 2020, and a distinction between “open” and “closed” events this season, given the need to run races behind closed doors due to COVID-19.
McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown – whose team is set to lose around 70 staff from its F1 project as a result of the budget cap – says the significance of the approved changes should not be understated.
“Formula 1 wins today,” Brown said. “This is a crucially important moment for our sport. F1 has been financially unsustainable for some time, and inaction would have risked the future of F1 and its participants, who are to be commended for resolving this issue collectively and determinedly.
“A uniform budget cap, in concert with more even distribution of revenue among the teams, will ensure greater competition and more people wanting to watch live and on TV, driving more sustained revenues to underpin the long-term financial health of the teams and the sport. Ultimately the fans win, and if the fans win, the whole sport wins too.”