Ferrari’s Maurizio Arrivabene reckons the long-debated budget cap is only one of the solutions to fix Formula 1 which needs a re-launch for the current generation.
The midfield teams were unanimous when asked about a budget cap and if they think it can help them to bridge the gap to the front runners. But Ferrari’s Arrivabene believes that a budget cap is not the end all of solutions and is only part of it.
The Italian reckons that the motto of the car manufacturers is never equalisation which is different from standardisation. Arrivabene, in fact, thinks F1 needs to tap the Playstation generation rather than keep working towards the older generation.
“I think from the financial point of view, of course reducing the cost is always more than welcome,” Arrivabene started. “It’s not related to the what, it’s related to the how. If reducing costs means equalisation it’s not for us.
“Standardisation is one thing, equalisation is another so equalisation is not in the DNA of car manufacturers. Reducing costs? Of course it is, that’s normal but I’m not telling you something new. We always stick to this point, to this direction.
“The problem is a bit more than the simple question related to the budget cap, that as I said, is very important. The question is related to the overall F1. What we want to do, to increase the interest in the sport, we need to analyse the mistakes of the past.
“We need to look forward for solutions in the future and this is also very important and to be honest, with ourselves: how is the level of interest to Formula One versus yesterday? What do we need to do? It’s not the budget cap, it’s one of the solutions but it’s not the solution.
“We need to go back and to re-launch the sport. Launching the sport is kind of complicated and a complex equation but it’s something that we absolutely need to do and analysing also the audience that we have.
“If at a certain point you have an audience that is becoming older, older, older and you work to retain what you have – I’m talking about the past – and your attention is less focused on acquiring the young generation, this means that you have a problem.
“If you have a problem, you need to find a solution and the solution is not only related to the budget cap that I underline is important, it’s very very important, but it’s not the only one solution.
“In terms of competitiveness within the teams, OK, we mentioned NFL but I am European, I mention football. For example, how can you tell to Real Madrid ‘sorry, if you play with – I don’t want to mention a small team – don’t play with your best team, play with your middle team.’ Come on, it’s ridiculous.
“The sport is done also by the big teams which are participating in the sport and it’s part of the fascination of the sport. In the last few years in Formula One, we saw Ferrari at the time of Jean Todt and Michael Schumacher that they were winning for years.
“Afterwards, we had the period where Red Bull was winning for years and nobody complained. In the meantime we never focused our attention on the audience and the audience, little by little, became older.
“This is the exercise that we need to look at. Our competitor today, in my opinion, it’s my personal opinion, they are the Playstations. If you look at Gran Turismo, most probably we need to switch our minds and focus our attention on our competitors.
“Today we have a broad offer of entertainment and we need to look at everything, not only certain sports and try to equalise everything. Is Playstation a competitor? In my opinion yes. What do you have to do to beat the Playstation?
“You have to do something that is more interesting, most probably. It’s not a detailed answer to the question but we need to direction our attention to the entertainment industry and today what they offer is bigger than many many years ago.
“And then you need to ask why other sports – and let me underline football – they are still big numbers – even if they sometimes face crisis – versus us. It’s an enormous and transparent exercise and then you apply the Ryder Cup, you apply whatever you want because if you save money it’s always perfect, everybody is happy.
“But as I said before, standardisation doesn’t mean equalisation for us,” Arrivabene explained. At the same time, Arrivabene’s colleagues from the lesser teams had opposing views with the inclination solely towards a budget cap.
Haas’ Gene Haas feels racing in Formula 1.5 rather than F1. “When I watch some of the races and I see how fast the top three teams just blow by us on the racetrack, you’re just somewhat aghast: wow, how do you we miss that?
“I don’t know how those cars are so much faster but if I talk to Ayao [Komatsu] and he’ll tell you ‘you’ve got a couple of tenths on your tyres, you’ve got a couple of tenths on your aero, your chassis is off a couple of tenths and there’s your second or two’.
“I know that we’ve put a huge effort into trying to address all those parameters but I just don’t see how we’re ever going to make up a second and a half, two seconds off of these guys. They are just so much faster than we are and it’s evident in the race.
“Will budget cap help? Probably if it reduces the size of their R&D department. I guess for every person we have they have five people. Personally, I would think that five people would make it more confusing but it does seem to work.
“If there’s anything that can reduce that gap between the technology they have and what we don’t have, that would probably be very helpful. How you go about doing that without the bigger teams somehow have workarounds I don’t know.
“There’s something wrong that… I don’t think we can ever make up that gap.” Williams’ Claire Williams very much agreed to Haas, adding that the sport should be more about talent and not showcasing one’s money spending power.
McLaren’s Zak Brown reckons the budget cap will help in increasing unpredictability while admitting that the top teams will still remain at the helm. “I do think the budget cap can play a significant role in balancing the playing field,” he said.
“You also need to do that by having the right regulations moving forward which is something that we’re all very active on but if you do look at the sports, most of them have some sort of budget cap, salary cap.
“Probably one of the most successful being the NFL where everyone’s pretty much on a level playing field and that’s where you see the upsets and the surprise champions and I think that would be healthy for the sport.
“I still think, at the end of the day, the best teams will rise to the top but it would be good to have some more unpredictability in the sport and have a chance to get back on the top step of the podium.”
F1’s managing director Ross Brawn has already confirmed of a cost cap to be implemented in the sport from 2019 onward but it will be done in a step-by-step process, so that it doesn’t disrupt the functionality of any teams.