Flying in the face of the opinions expressed by both Ferrari and BMW over the past week, Ross Brawn has thrown his support behind the FIA's new optional £40 million budget cap in Formula 1, warning that without it the top flight risks 'turning [engineers] into Swiss watchmakers' – but equally underlining that it will only be workable if it is embraced by all.
Brawn's former boss, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, has blasted the initiative as being 'fundamentally unfair and perhaps even biased', with BMW Motorsport Director Dr Mario Theissen urging that 'a two-class Formula 1 is not attractive to BMW', since 'in one go you cannot just evaporate by a factor of three'.
Whilst stating the case for the cap in times of such global economic turmoil and following years of escalating expenditure in the world's most expensive sport, Brawn fervently agrees that a two-tier system of haves and have-nots – with some competitors adhering to the cap and benefitting from its greater technical freedoms, and others continuing to race on an unlimited budget but with more restrictions in place – is not the way to go.
“We don't want to see a two-tier Formula 1,” he contended. “We think that would confuse the public, [and] if there is a big disparity in the regulations there will be no merit for those teams that succeed using the most advantageous regulations.
“It's a fact that stability – when the rules are right – is the cheapest way of going forward in many ways, because you can plan [and] you can organise yourself, but one of the difficulties of Formula 1 is that we're turning into Swiss watchmakers. We're just refining everything to the nth degree instead of being able to make conceptual changes or innovative changes because the rules are becoming more and more restrictive. In order to try and contain the costs, we're just closing everything down so much that I'm not sure that's what Formula 1 should be.
“We, as a team – both in Honda days and now – support the idea of a constraint on resources of some sort, be it financial, be it people, be it some constraint where everything is enclosed and within that enclosure there is more freedom because most of the technical changes we're doing are to save cost. If we can save cost by saying 'that's all you're allowed to spend' and have more freedom, for me that's a more exciting Formula 1 [and] we've always supported that concept.”
The Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) – of whose technical committee Brawn is the chairman – has demanded 'urgent' talks with the governing body regarding the cap, and with its scheduled introduction in 2010, the Englishman is well aware that time is short.
“I think all the teams within FOTA don't want to have a two-tier system,” he acknowledged, “and I think there will be discussions over the next week or so. As soon as it's possible, we would like to meet with Max [Mosley – FIA President] and try and find if there's another way forward, where all the teams can be united and consistent in the solution.
“What we want to do as a team is find a solution to that with all the other teams. We don't want difficulties in Formula 1; we want to work with the FIA, we want to work with all the teams and find a solution that fits with that. For us, there has to be some constraint on resources – not a constraint on the technical regulations.”