Lotus Racing founder and team principal Tony Fernandes has hit out at the cost-cutting measures implemented in F1 this year, arguing that far from reducing expenditure, some of them have in actual fact driven it up.
Lotus is one of three new teams – in company with Virgin Racing and Hispania (HRT) – that have joined the grand prix grid this season, initially attracted by the prospect of a £40 million budget cap that has yet to materialise, and now that Max Mosley is no longer FIA President, likely never will.
There will be no new team additions in 2011, it has been confirmed, after interested parties Epsilon Euskadi, Villeneuve Racing and Stefan GP were all rejected by the governing body's World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) earlier this month – whilst infinitely better-qualified candidates such as Prodrive, Lola and multiple GP2 and F3 Euroseries title-winners ART Grand Prix all shied away from projects that they believed could end up being financially unviable or even ruinous.
There is a Resource Restriction Agreement due to be brought into force in the top flight in 2012, but Fernandes fears even that may not be enough to bring spending in what is the world's most expensive sport down to the kind of level needed to ensure the survival of existing competitors and attract new ones to the fray to-boot.
“I think F1 needs to re-examine itself and the costs need to be kept in-check,” the Malaysian entrepreneur told the official F1 website. “Many of the technical changes that were brought in to reduce costs haven't done so, and in many cases they have actually increased costs.
“This won't encourage more new teams to come into our sport, so it's incumbent on all the teams to make sure they stay on-budget, and that the whole sport works to keep the costs down over the long-term.”
Lotus has by common consent been the most impressive of the F1 2010 newcomers, by proving to be not only the most competitive and generally most reliable, but also boasting the best driver line-up with former grand prix-winners Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen on-board.
The Anglo/Malaysian outfit is seemingly financially sound too, with ambitious plans for the future and strong speculation of a Renault engine-supply deal and technical tie-up next year. Fernandes insists chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne must take much of the praise for progress to-date.
“The credit in our team has to go to Mike and the boys,” underlined the AirAsia founder. “They said they'd have to spend a certain amount to get us to where we are now, and that's exactly what they've done. We've been on-budget to the penny.”