Mercedes GP boss Ross Brawn has suggested that the means of controlling spending in F1 needs to be more tightly policed, if only to prevent rumours that the agreement is being abused.

Speaking ahead of the Korean Grand Prix, Brawn admitted that the biggest teams in the sport, and therefore those with the most spending power, are beginning to feel the effects of the Resource Restriction Agreement, where the eight smallest teams have always had to operate below the ceiling imposed. With such a gap between the 'haves' and 'have-nots', however, Brawn acknowledges that there will always been suspicions that the rules are being flouted.

"I think it's at a crossroads because it's now starting to bite those three or four teams who have to control their resource to comply," the former eponymous team principal explained, "I think there's seven or eight teams for whom the RRA means nothing because they're always going to be below the limit, [but] now we're at a stage where the targets that were set are starting to bite into the three or four [big teams] and this is where it starts to get contentious.

Both Brawn's Mercedes team and reigning double champion Red Bull have been accused of attempting to find ways around the RRA, but the Briton insists that transparency can only be achieved of the Agreement is policed more firmly.

"We're total supporters of the idea of RRA but, for us, it has to be much more robust in how it's controlled, how it's monitored, how it's policed, because it's a performance differentiator," Brawn continued, "You can't deny that a team spending five million more each year will have an advantage over a team that doesn't do that. [That] leads to the innuendo and accusations that get thrown around.

"It has to be very well controlled, very strongly audited and it has to be done by a reference which is the same for all teams, otherwise we have no guarantee of parity, and I think for us, RRA is at a crossroads. We support it totally, but the teams have to come together to find a solution to make sure that we're all comfortable with the way we go, forward or else we will have a continuation of the problems that we're having at the moment, all the comments, the rumour, the innuendo, the distrust that we have.

"We're working on an agreement that we thought we already had, which doesn't end for several years, and that's the problem that we have at the moment. We don't have complete unity on RRA and we have to have it, because Mercedes are total supporters of the concept of RRA, but it has to be a fair and proper, correctly policed, correctly monitored, correctly audited system which is the same for everybody."

Despite Brawn's comments regarding a longer-term solution, the current RRA is due to expire next season, but has proven to be a solid means of keeping the smaller, and newer, teams alive in the sport, as Marussia Virgin's John Booth acknowledges.

"The RRA is very, very important to us," the former F3 team owner admitted, "Remember, we gave up a lot, together with the other new teams, we gave up a lot in the entry to the sport. We gave up the option B and we gave up the price cap and bought into the RRA wholeheartedly and it's very, very important to us that it continues and we work towards the agreement. I think a spending formula where three or maybe four teams could thrive is not what people want and we must work very hard to avoid that.

McLaren boss - and FOTA chairman - Martin Whitmarsh has always remained positive about the effect that the RRA was having on the sport, but admits that it is never going to sit comfortably with everyone.

"I think, firstly, we have achieved quite a lot with RRA," he insisted, "We are pretty good at focusing on issues and concerns, but I think RRA has, in the way we've restricted testing, the way we have restricted the number of operational personnel we have at the circuit, wind tunnel time, CFD time.... I know that, within our business, the spirit and nature of conversations between engineers now, talking about efficiency, the need to do things with a finite level of discourse, I think that is a very healthy level of discussion, very healthy debate, and undeniably RRA has saved money and had been to the benefit of F1.

"Is it perfect? Will it ever be without contention, challenge, suspicion and paranoia? Almost certainly no. Just as technical regulations, sporting regulations - particularly if a team is doing very well or doing a good job - it is always a more comfortable assumption to assume they have got a dodgy wing or they have got something else. I think that is the nature and spirit of F1. I think we have got to continue to work hard together as teams to see that we can make, improve and refine the RRA. I think it would be a shame for the teams to say this is so difficult, we'll walk away from it and we'll turn to a spend-what-you-like culture or spend-what-you-can-lay- your-hands-on culture within F1.

"It is not perfect, there are concerns. What I can say is that I have been reasonably involved with the process, there has been no evidence other than, if you like, the normal paddock gossip or accusation, but there has been no evidence of a breach of the RRA. Each of the teams and team principals continue to assure FOTA that they are abiding by the limitations that are contained within the Resource Restriction Agreement. Bear in mind that although, clearly, there is a lot of media interest we are doing this for one reason. We are doing it for ourselves. We are doing it for the sustainability of F1. It is not intended to be part of the show or the spectacle of F1. It is an internal process, but I understand people are interested in it and like to speculate if there is some controversy behind it, but certainly my view is it isn't perfect, there will always be challenges. I think we have got to improve it, I think we have got to work together to enhance trust and mutual respect in the process. Will we ever reach a stage where everyone is very comfortable, has no concern, no accusation? I doubt [that], just as there isn't with technical regulations in my experience. But I think it has been the right thing for the sport and I think we have got to continue to persevere with it."


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