£40m budget cap splits F1

Plans for a ‘two-tier’ rules system in Grand Prix racing from next season have been shelved – but only if the existing teams race under the cost cap championed by FIA president Max Mosley.

As Motor Sport closed for press just before the Monaco GP, however, FOTA had yet to reach an agreement with the FIA, and the teams were still exploring other options.

Mosley used the April 29 meeting of the World Motor Sport Council – convened to look into the Lewis Hamilton lying affair – to push through his controversial cost cap proposals. Since an initial announcement in March the headline figure has been increased from £30 million to £40m, while costs associated with engines, marketing and driver salaries have now been taken out of the equation.

In order to help fill the three proposed vacancies, new teams running to the cost cap are being offered a $10m payment from Bernie Ecclestone, along with travel benefits. But, crucially, they were also to be allowed to run an engine without the standard 18,000rpm limit, and with other performance breaks.

FOTA’s opposition to the plans soon gathered momentum. In addition to the two-tier idea the teams were united in their condemnation of the way that the changes had been brought about, with Ferrari arguing that it had a veto on major decisions. After the Spanish GP both Ferrari and Renault issued statements confirming that they would not compete under a two-tier system in 2010. The Italian team subsequently launched an action in the French courts to block the changes.

Mosley claimed that it was the prospect of some existing teams taking advantage of the performance breaks that ultimately led him to drop the plans when he met the teams at Heathrow on May 14, on the condition that they either run to the £40m cap or came up with an acceptable alternative within a week.

The manufacturer teams face an enormous challenge in getting down to that figure, and hundreds of jobs would have to be cut. Flavio Briatore and Red Bull’s Dietrich Mateschitz are also vehemently opposed to the concept of a detailed FIA audit of their businesses.

Entries for 2010 close on May 29.