While the budget cap is intended to both level the playing field and reduce spending, it is the huge cost of the current engine formula that has proved prohibitive in terms of bringing more manufacturers into F1.
The situation Red Bull finds itself in following the withdrawal of Honda – which in itself was largely due to the huge costs involved – is proof that the sport faces a dilemma.
Though the Austrian team is willing to purchase Honda’s IPO it is not prepared to then spend even more money developing the engine, consequently it has called for a freeze on development until the introduction of the new formula due in 2025 or 2026. Later this week the F1 Commission will vote on the freeze.
Though it is unclear exactly when the new formula will be introduced, F1 bosses and the current manufacturers insist that the new wave of power units must be cheaper, greener and simpler.
Stefano Domenicali, formerly CEO at Lamborghini, and prior to that team boss at Ferrari, is confident that the right formula will bring more manufacturers into F1.
“It’s not possible that the power unit in Formula 1 can cost what it is costing today and attract new suppliers,” he tells Sky Sports. “I think there is a margin, a big margin on that, and one of the agendas we have is that we would like to involve teams and OEMs to try and anticipate the new engine even earlier than what is expected of the regulations, and make sure these kinds of things will be part of the agenda. I’m sure we can do it.”
But the Italian, who was formerly CEO of Lamborghini and before that team boss of Scuderia Ferrari, insists new manufacturers are showing an interest in F1 and there are still major benefits to be had by competing in the sport.
“One of the biggest challenges that automotive manufacturers have today is to feel younger,” he continues. “There is this kind of fight between the old school of OEM and the new OEMs that are coming in on the mobility side. I think the OEMs can use the platform to get the fresh image they maybe need for the future.
“What I can say is that we are in discussions with other manufacturers,” he adds. “For the moment, they prefer to stay quiet, but the good news is that there are other companies, very important companies, that are really keen to understand what is the value that they can bring home using the F1 platform.
“Not only in terms of technology, in terms of also the value of what Formula 1 can bring to the automotive manufacturer.”
Fact is, with more and more governments looking to do away with the internal combustion engine, the future is looking increasingly to be either electric or some alternative power source, and consequently it is going to be hard to call on manufacturers – and their shareholders – to effectively head in the opposite direction.