Max Mosley has all-but admitted that the new 'optional' budget cap to be available to Formula 1 teams from next year onwards may disadvantage those competitors that choose to sign up to it, as 'highly-organised, unlimited-expenditure teams are perhaps likely to do a better job of going racing'.

It was announced following yesterday's meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris that a budget cap of ?30 million per two-car outfit per season (currently EUR33 million, or $42 million) will be tabled to teams as of 2010 - a 90 per cent reduction on what some of them have spent in recent campaigns [see separate story - click here]. The FIA President suggested that in addition to slashing expenditure, the initiative will also throw another element of unpredictability into the battle.

The rationale behind the move is that it is an effort to attract new teams to the sport, with the 2009 grid having been threatened back in December with a presence of just 18 cars following Honda's withdrawal announcement. What's more, in an effort to guarantee a level playing field, teams will have the choice of either continuing to adhere to the top flight's current technical constraints and spend as they see fit, or of benefitting from greater technical freedom whilst being subject to the stringent and rigorously-enforced expenditure cap.

As a sweetener, a more aerodynamically efficient (but standard) under body, movable wings and an engine which is not subject to a rev limit or a development freeze will be amongst the incentives offered to teams willing to accept the budget cap - so in a nutshell, competitors will be able to choose between freedom to spend...or freedom to innovate.

The technical freedoms accorded to the low-budget teams will be adjusted from time-to-time to keep their performance roughly on a par with the average performance of their unlimited-expenditure rivals. The regulations for those not subject to the cap will remain stable and fixed.

"If a team's total expenditure is limited, money is saved so detailed regulations aimed at saving cost in specific areas are no longer needed," Mosley explained. "A team could spend ?20 million a year on its engine but would then have only ?10 million left for everything else. It would probably not be competitive.

"The same applies to the other restrictions which will be swept away for the cost-capped teams such as limits on wind tunnel use, testing, exotic materials or giant computers - subject of course to current safety requirements. They can even spend on private jets and luxury hotels - but whatever they spend must come out of the ?30 million.

"There is no reason why cost-capped teams could not win races, [though] the massive and highly-organised, unlimited-expenditure teams are perhaps likely to do a better job of going racing. They will have the most expensive race engineers and tacticians, not to mention the top-earning drivers. However, racing is - and should be - unpredictable."

Mosley went on to argue that the budget cap would 'encourage clever engineering' and play into the hands of 'the technically-minded' - and it is far from unfeasible, he contended, that a team with better innovation skills but limited spending power could prevail over a rival with unlimited budget but a comparative paucity of ideas.

"All expenditure will be included," the 68-year-old summarised of the cap, "even the salaries of the drivers and team principal - everything except the motor home, if the team has one, and any fine(s) imposed by the FIA. If the team is profitable, it can pay a dividend to its shareholders, who may well include a chief engineer, team principal or even a driver - but we would make sure the team was genuinely making enough profit to cover the dividend.

"It has been carefully costed. The cars will be much less refined in detail, because the teams will not be able to spend huge sums on minute advantages - for example, $1,200 on a wheel nut which is only used once - but from the grandstand or on television they won't look or sound any less 'Formula 1' than the current, ultra-expensive cars.

"The engine will comply with current rules, except that there will be no rev limit and no development freeze. However, the entire engine expenditure will come out of the cap. If the engine is supplied by an outside commercial entity or another team, we will have to be satisfied that there is no hidden subsidy. If a team has its own engine, we will check its full cost just as we will the rest of the car. The current rule limiting manufacturers to supplying engines to one additional team each will remain in place.

"Keith Duckworth once said 'an engineer is someone who can do for one dollar what any idiot can do for a hundred dollars'. These rules will encourage clever engineering - success will come to the teams with the best ideas, not only the teams with the most money.

"They will also be more interesting to the technically-minded, because of the special features which will allow them to compete against teams with much bigger budgets - and don't forget that ?30 million is still a huge amount of money in the real world."



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