Max Mosley has contended that if the FIA had waited any longer before introducing the controversial new optional budget cap into Formula 1 it could have been 'too late' and the sport 'may have lost other manufacturers or even independent teams, despite their best intentions'.
The top flight's heavily-revised sporting and technical framework – unveiled yesterday (Tuesday) following a reunion of the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) in Paris – has provoked a good deal of debate within the grand prix paddock. Detailed regulations are due to be published 'shortly', the FIA President underlined, 'because new teams wishing to enter the 2010 championship will need to start work immediately'.
Mosley also stated that it is the FIA's intention to ask the WMSC to agree to increase the number of teams allowed to participate in the sport – currently limited to just twelve – safety permitting, and that should an eleventh and twelfth team come on-board in 2010, Bernie Ecclestone's commercial rights Formula One Management (FOM) company will pay them $10 million each in addition to the standard transport package.
The 68-year-old added that the cap had proven necessary – above and beyond the initially agreed cost-cutting in F1, to the tune of some 50 per cent by 2010 – as a result of the worsening of the global recession, and he was adamant that smaller budgets would have no bearing upon sponsors, which are becoming increasingly hard to find in the current financial climate.
“The worldwide economic crisis has worsened very significantly since December, when we met the teams in Monaco,” he reasoned. “No-one can say the situation will not deteriorate further in the coming months. If this happens, we may lose other manufacturers or even independent teams, despite their best intentions.
“If we wait and things get worse, it will be too late. Conversely, if economic conditions suddenly improve, we will at least have some new blood in Formula 1. It is obviously the FIA's duty to try to plan for the worst case rather than just hope for the best.
“Sponsors will pay what the brand exposure on offer is worth to them. Competitors in sports like tennis or golf earn large sums, despite their costs being minimal compared to Formula 1. Sponsors in the current climate are more likely to be repelled by obvious profligacy than by a budget cap.”
With many questioning in particular just how the budget cap will be policed, Mosley revealed that there will be strict checks in place to ensure that no competitor manages to circumvent the new measure by underhand or clandestine means. He also insisted that 'we will make sure the [technical freedom] advantages [available to those who sign up to the initiative] do no more than balance the disadvantages the cost-capped teams will have because of their very restricted budgets'.
“We went into all this very carefully some time ago,” he stated. “We involved forensic accountants from Deloitte and Touche as well as financial experts from the current teams. The vast majority of payments are traceable and any benefits in-kind can be valued.