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F1 urged to cut costs as teams fail

2014-10-31 08:17

NO CAR, NO RACE: Caterham driver Marcus Ericsson will have a relaxing time in Texas as his team and Marussia will not be competing at the 2014 US GP in Austin. Image: AP/ Darron Cummings

  • Sauber boss calls for action on costs
  • FIA questions the economic balance
  • Caterham, Marussia to miss US GP


AUSTIN, Texas - Sauber principal Monisha Kaltenborn has urged Formula 1's decision makers to act in the sport's best interests and tackle a looming crisis after two teams went into administration in the space of a week.

Speaking after the governing FIA said the predicament of Marussia and Caterham showed the need for cost-cutting measures, Kaltenborn said she was 'beyond frustration' with how the situation had developed.

Her team is also facing considerable financial challenges.


Kaltenborn told reporters at the 2014 US Grand Prix: "It's one thing to just talk about this terrible scenario that some teams are not going to be there but for the sport and the people responsible for the sport to have let it come that far is extremely disturbing.

"Some stakeholders and people are just not willing to understand where the problem lies."

"What we really need to look at, and we as a team have been saying for so long, is you have to get the figures right in the sport. I think it's a real shame that we have turnovers of billions of dollars and as a sport, as a community, we are not capable of making sure that 11 teams survive."

F1 has annual turnover in excess of about R16-billion but more than half that goes to the commercial rights holder, with private equity group CVC the largest shareholder.

The teams share some 47.5% but only the top 10 get a share of the prize money and payments are based on performance and vary considerably.


Former FIA president Max Mosley warned this week that more teams could go bust unless the revenues were shared more equally to ensure all could compete.

The FIA issued a statement on Thursday questioning the "economic balance" of the championship and pointing out that it had warned repeatedly of the need to cut costs.

Caterham and Marussia, both tail-end teams, are absent from this weekend's race in Austin and in danger of folding completely due to considerable debts.

That leaves just nine teams and 18 cars, the lowest at a race weekend since 2005.

The FIA announced in 2013 that it wanted to introduce a cost cap in 2015 but in April the governing body's president Jean Todt said the plan had been scrapped because the leading six teams, who form part of the decision-making F1 strategy group, were opposed.

Todt said then that the governing body could not impose a cost cap and measures would have to be introduced instead through the sporting regulations.

The FIA said: "These failings once again acutely raise the question of the economic balance of the FIA Formula One championship."

It added that the crisis justified the position "expressed many times by the FIA, in favour of any initiative that will help reduce costs in order to ensure the survival of the existing grid and attract potential new entrants."

The FIA said: "It is the responsibility of the FIA stewards to determine whether or not a team has failed to fulfil its regulatory obligation to take part in all events on the calendar and to take whatever action they deem appropriate.

"However we have every confidence that the stewards are fully aware of the financial situation of the teams concerned and these matters are always assessed with extreme care and due regard to the circumstances involved."


Commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone has given both teams dispensation to miss races while they try to find buyers. The 2014 Brazilian GP (Nov 9) follows Austin, with Abu Dhabi the final race later on November 23.

Teams that miss races are, however, in breach of contractual obligations to compete in the entire championship and also forfeit prize money payments.

The FIA said stewards had decided that both teams were in breach of the regulations but had decided not to impose any penalties due to their financial circumstances.

Nico Rosberg, who is challenging Mercedes team mate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton for the title, said the human aspect of the crisis must not be ignored.

Rosberg said: "It's a very negative impact, mainly for the people who are working at Caterham and Marussia. That is the most important part of all this, for their families and everybody that's tough. That's the worst part."

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