Formula 1 has been at the forefront of technological innovation throughout its history with advancements that have directly benefitted the wider automotive industry (aerodynamic innovations, safety developments, energy recovery systems, navigation tools, composite materials…). Yet, it is time to listen to the fans, and innovate and this 2020 season was to be the last as we know Formula 1 before COVID19. Some transformations are posponed, but here is what is happening.
One clear challenge for Formula 1 is to ensure competitiveness among the teams, to make the “show” more attractive, lower the costs, while preserving the unique technology and engineering challenges that are part of Formula 1 DNA. In the last years, we have all been used to wondering who between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull will be on the podium and will win the championship, and the rest of the teams were fighting for the 4rth place. It might change, because of the Cost Cap, the first time in the championship’s history that such financial rule have been enshrined. Starting 2021, teams will have a limited amount of to spend in a full season: USD 150 millions. It covers team’s expenditure and aspects directly related to the race car’s performance. Total cost of teams varies a lot from team to team, making it impossible for smaller budget team to think about constructors ranking podium. Some now spend more, some spend less, but the cost cap will apply equally to all teams. The cap, again, is related to car performance. It excludes all marketing costs, race driver fees, key personal salaries, and a list of exemptions such as property costs (factory...). In order to ensure that, a Cost Cap Administration will be created to monitor compliance with regulations. Will be highly interesting to enter more in details in the future to verify that rules are truly in favor of competitiveness and well implemented.
What about drivers? Obviously, the best drivers will still get big money, fair enough. But yet drivers will be more in a position to compete, more “karting” like, which makes it exciting. We have heard so many drivers mentioning, my only real competitor is my team mate (since they have the same car), this cap will make the gap smaller between teams, cars and therefore drivers will show even more their skills. At the end, this 2021 desired changes are the result of a challenge set by its leaders, become more attractive and develop a growing sustainable business in a changing world. The process has been a collaborative process between Formula 1, FIA, teams and other stakeholders who all have a common interest, growing F1. Due to COVID, most innovations will happen later on, but still F1 has entered into a transformation process, it is just question of time: sexier cars, closer racing and a more compact race weekend among them. There will be changes, adaptations, sometimes conflicts, which is part of the innovation process… but at the end, all for the sake of Formula 1.
Time to enjoy 2020 season, and understand what’s coming for 2021, good case study for any other sports property !