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.