F1 teams battle development-cost cap equation

George Russell aboard the Mercedes W13 in Spain

Formula 1 this season enters an all-new era of regulations in the sport with the added complication of a cost cap.

Teams are limited to just $140 million, well down on the sums the larger operations have been spending in recent seasons where some have spent more than half a billion dollars.

And while that has a positive impact on the sport in terms of its ongoing viability, it could create headaches should a design prove uncompetitive.

“Sometimes when you embark on a direction, that’s it,” admitted Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

“And then the added pressure of the cost cap makes it very difficult to then change the car fundamentally because everything is planned, every upgrade and their related costs are planned.

“Therefore, we are much more restricted with the budget cap in, let’s say our ability to implement creative process onto the car.”

The cost cap this season has reduced by $5 million over what teams had available last year and will shrink again for 2023.

“It has been very, very difficult to structure the company and the organisation in the right way to meet the cost cap at $140 million,” Wolff said.

“Also, in a high inflation environment, we are not only reducing by 5 million, but we have a situation where you’re not able to really increase the costs and the payroll, so that is extremely painful.

“And on the other side, you have to decide very carefully where you invest your dollar in R&D [research and development].

“In the past, it was a little bit easier, because you could follow various avenues and chase performance.

“Today, you have to decide which one has the highest potential and then embark on it, so it’s a totally different way of operating for the big teams.”

Formula 1 pre-season testing began today in Spain, with all 10 teams in action for the three-day affair.

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