Bernie Ecclestone has played down suggestions that a budget cap would help keep F1 spending in check, claiming that teams would always find a way around limitations.
With HRT having bitten the dust since the end of the 2012 season, the grand prix field is down to eleven teams as the new campaign gets underway in Australia this weekend, and Ecclestone is quick to point out that the Spaniards failed because they couldn't raise the funds to ensure survival. However, he was equally adamant that imposing a spending cap could be circumvented and therefore would not be viable.
“[HRT's demise] wasn't a case of a poor business model,” the sport's ringmaster insisted in a pre-season interview with the official F1 website, “It just cost too much money and they couldn't find it. The people [behind the team] weren't prepared to put in any more money. That's why they stopped.”
Laughing off a reminder that he once suggested that it would make more sense to raise sponsorship centrally and then distribute funding to the teams, Ecclestone argued that teams would always be driven to spend more than they could afford if it meant being competitive.
“If they were to get the money according to an allocation formula but still overspend, where would that money come from?” he pondered, “What would change to what we have now? Teams will always spend what they can get - from wherever. And if there were a cap on it, it wouldn't make any difference. They will still find ways to get money and spend it.”
The closest that F1 has come to a control on spending is the current, self-policed, Resource Restriction Agreement, but even that has proven fraught with problems, leading to disquiet amongst the teams that came up with the idea in the first place. Now, FIA president Jean Todt is claiming that the agreement could be about to collapse, despite the governing body having been asked to get involved in its implementation.
"I think F1 does cost too much," he told Britain's Financial Times
, "[but] a lot of teams prefer to have the privilege of competition rather than reduce costs. I hope that a sensible approach from the teams will be reducing costs, but it's not something we all have to agree together. We are the regulator. If they don't want to reduce costs, that's it. It's not our responsibility to do things that teams do not want."