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F1 needs to address aero costs not engine costs - Prost

ESPN Staff
November 11, 2013 « Massa given his Ferrari send-off | Racing won't change in 2014 - Button »
Alain Prost believes F1 should address rising costs © Sutton Images

Four-time champion Alain Prost has warned Formula One that it needs to restrict its spending on aerodynamic performance in order to remain sustainable in the future.

Next year all teams face rising costs as they adopt a new engine formula that will see the current V8 engines replaced with V6 turbos and complex energy recovery systems. Prost is an ambassador for F1 engine manufacturer Renault, and while he accepts costs are set to rise, he believes the teams' wind tunnel budgets and not the engines should come under scrutiny.

Asked whether F1 should have acted earlier to address rising costs, he said: "I think it's already late, but it's never too late for sure. Budgets are too high considering the revenue, the sponsors, and there's a lot of things that should have been done a long time ago in my opinion. But it is also a competition and it is very difficult, when it's a competition, to stop somebody who has more money.

"If you cannot stop that, which I think is very difficult to do, you need to find other ideas. For example, F1 spends a lot of money on the aerodynamics and in my opinion I cannot understand why we put so much importance on aerodynamics. I understand that big teams have wind tunnels and things like this, but you can only reduce the importance of aerodynamics by [changing the] rules. Have a flat bottom [to the car], go back to the wider tyres to have more mechanical grip rather than aero. Then, okay, you can keep the wind tunnels but the importance will be less.

"We also have ugly cars. You cannot put a sponsor on a car and see it properly. All these things come from rules that, in my opinion, should change a little bit. In the past we have seen Toyota spend a huge amount of money without winning a race, so money is not everything, it's where you put the money and we have to think about that. A budget cap is a good thing but I am sure it is quite difficult to get it. So let's put the important things where they should be."

He said Renault is managing the costs of its new engine programme to ensure spending does not get out of control as it goes into direct competition with Ferrari and Mercedes next year and then Honda as well in 2015.

"It is obviously an expensive programme," he said. "The better you are at the beginning, the less money you are going to spend. You know when you have a good basis it is always the same thing. If you work with small developments step by step it always costs money but it will be [cheaper]. If we have a huge problem [it will be expensive], but huge problems would be known by now and it's not the case. So there is a lot of work to do but I don't think there is a big problem.

"Renault has huge experience behind them and they know how to do it and how to spend their money. It's well organised and when we are talking about producing the budget we have clear things with organisation and where to put the money, and then it costs less. I'm sure other constructors may spend more money, but I don't think at the end it will be the key issue."