Patrick Head has called on the FIA to implement regulation changes in Formula 1 through 'consultation' rather than 'confrontation' – as fears rise that the optional £40 million budget cap that has been forced through without teams' approval will engender a two-tier system in the top flight.
Brawn GP team principal Ross Brawn has argued that whilst the cap is a positive step in times of such global economic turmoil and with car makers beginning to question the viability of their continued presence in F1, it can only work if all
teams adhere to it, so as not to create a situation of haves and have-nots [see separate story – click here
] – and Head broadly agrees.
As one of the few remaining true independent outfits in the sport, a limited budget would inarguably play in Williams' favour and help to safeguard its future in the current climate – but Head disagrees with the manner in which the FIA has gone about introducing it.
“It is certainly not a comfortable position where rules can be changed without any consultation [and] without any passing through the technical working group,” contended Williams' co-founder and esteemed engineering director. “To me it seems unfortunate that Formula 1 rules seem to come about through change a lot of the time, through confrontation, rather than through consultation.
“I think very often Max [Mosley – FIA President] might say 'well, I have given them the chance and they haven't come up with what they wanted', but the teams are very open to realistic and practical ways of saving money. It is not as if the teams – and this goes for the manufacturer teams and the smaller teams – are all rushing around wanting to spend more money. They're not. They're wanting to spend less money. I think the environment is very positive towards a less costly Formula 1, but I don't think anybody – and this goes for Williams certainly – thinks that a two-tier championship is a good idea.
“Even on the basis of being able to adjust the rear wing alone, that is going to be very significant. It depends whether any additional things come in that limit how far you are able to adjust it, but on the basis of a completely adjustable rear wing with a single flap moving you are going to be talking about, I don't know, a second-and-a-half, two seconds a lap. Now, no amount of expenditure on more expensive, more fiddly hydraulic blocks, no amount of expenditure anywhere else will make up for that difference.
“It is certainly a difficult environment at the moment, but I think everybody is having to sit in strategic meetings where you decide what possible option might come through and how you cover it and how, if that doesn't go through, you then don't find yourself significantly embarrassed by having made a wrong decision. It is a bit of a gambling imposition on what should be a logical design process, but all part of the fun and the same for everybody.”
If F1 is involving a considerable degree of 'gambling' in 2009, the Williams has thus far been out of luck every time it has rolled the dice, with just 3.5 points from the opening four 'flyaway' races, despite Nico Rosberg having paced no fewer than eight of the 15 practice session to date – comfortably more than any other driver – and qualified inside the top ten without fail.
The young German topped the times again in FP1 in Barcelona ahead of this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix – with 'some new bits and pieces' brought along designed to improve performance – and Head acknowledges that in terms of solid results, the Grove-based outfit has 'not made the best' of what is a tidy package in the Toyota-powered FW31 thus far. It is high time, he recognises, that it begins to do so.