• Mercedes

Cost cap a losing battle - Wolff

ESPN Staff
April 25, 2014 « 'Sacrifices' paying off for Force India - Hulkenberg | F1 will fail without cost control - Marussia »
Toto Wolff thinks there are too many "loopholes" in a budget cap © Sutton Images

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits he was actually in favour of a cost cap but insists he is sure there are much fairer ways to ensure a more level playing field for F1's smaller teams.

The issue of budget is a big one in 2014, with Force India calling the FIA's recent decision to drop plans for a cost cap "unacceptable", an opinion shared by the smaller teams not in the policy-making Strategy Group. Mercedes is one of the six teams - along with McLaren, Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus and Williams - in the Strategy Group, which voted unanimously against despite Wolff favouring the idea.

The FIA is now hoping to achieve cost-cutting through sporting and technical regulations. Explaining Mercedes' decision, Wolff believes the structure of some teams in F1 today makes a workable cost cap nearly impossible.

"I was for a cost cap actually," Wolff said. "But we realised some of the other big teams could not follow that path. Ferrari are a good example as they have everything in one entity, the road car business and F1, and it's difficult for them to have everything screened.

"It doesn't make sense to go against two or three of the big teams just for the sake of the principal of the cost cap, so it's worth following it up where everybody can do. This is why going through the sporting and technical regulations is probably the right way to go at the moment.

"We've seen in the past that it worked. The testing was massively reduced, for example. There are many things we can do so we are working at the moment to try and find the best tools when we next get together to try to implement that.

"We are for a cost cap, or a ceiling, so we are not running away in a spending war with the other teams, and for a glide path downwards so we can reduce the gap between the larger and smaller teams."

Wolff believes a cost cap is a system teams would find easy to manipulate, and is certain the idea of sporting and technical regulations levelling the playing field further will be an idea which grows in popularity over time.

"Engineers are always going to find loopholes [in a cost cap]. If you reduce something on the left, you are going to find possibilities on the right. This is why the concept of the cost cap would be a difficult one to police. If you are going through sporting and technical regulations it makes sense.

"Reducing the testing make sense. Then there was the parc ferme rule, everybody cried, said the cars wouldn't be safe in races as we needed to work on them overnight. But we can see it's all going fantastic.

"We are seeing clear instruments and projects where we believe we can reduce costs. Shipping parts on the Wednesday, Thursday and even Friday morning, with overnight flights, just doesn't make sense. Doing 24 hour shifts in the week leading up to the grand prix as well. We are all putting our heads together to discuss with Charlie [Whiting] to then take to the next meeting of the Strategy Group."