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Christian Horner
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 12: Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner walks in the Paddock ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on June 12, 2022 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Horner: “we don’t want a championship decided in law courts”

Could the cost cap add unwanted drama to the title fight?

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Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has voiced concerns that the cost cap could see the title battle decided in court instead of on the track.

The Red Bull team, the current leaders of both the drivers’ and the teams’ championship (Image Credit: Red Bull Racing)

As one of the bigger Formula 1 teams and as the championship leaders, Red Bull stands to lose the most from the cost cap issues. Horner has cited many concerns, such as that some teams might have to miss races, or that they would be forced to lay off team members.

The cost cap is currently at $140 million per team. Smaller teams like Williams and Haas can easily stay under this number. But teams like Red Bull, Ferrari, and Mercedes, are already struggling.

title battle concerns

Previously, Horner has brought up the concern of the top teams being forced to miss races to stay within the cost cap

Part of the reason the cost cap has become such a prevalent issue is due to inflation. Costs are getting higher and higher while teams are still forced to adhere to the set budget.

“What we’re seeing in the world at the moment, we’re not in control of the inflationary costs that are affecting households around the world,” Horner told Sky Sports F1. 

“In the UK, we’re seeing predicted inflation at 11 per cent. That’s a direct effect on staff, on raw materials, on electricity, on commodities, on supplied parts. I think it genuinely is a force majeure situation that the FIA need to deal with.”

Force Majeure is a clause that allows the FIA and Formula 1 to essentially change the rules when an outside force (e.g. extreme weather, terrorism, govenment acts, embargoes, etc.) changes the circumstances.

Horner believes that at least half the teams will have exceeded the cost cap by the end of the year. His main concern is that this will affect the title fight.

“There’s probably about 50 per cent of the teams who are going to breach the cap at the end of the year if it continues the way things are. Probably even more.

“We don’t want a championship decided in law courts, or in Paris in front of the FIA. We’ve got six months of the year to address this, we need to act now.”

laying off team members?

One of the other, unintended consequences of the cost cap that Horner cited was that teams like Red Bull might be forced to cut the staff to keep within the budget.

“I think the top teams would have to get rid of circa two, three hundred people each, to get anywhere near addressing it,” said Horner. “Is that right?”

“The problem is if the cost cap fails badly, it’ll be gone forever. We need to find a solution to this issue. Nobody could have predicted this. We lowered the cost cap by $35m during the pandemic, and nobody could have predicted the issues that we’ve got.”

Ferrari already found a way out of this particular issue, having transferred a number of their employees to the Haas F1 team when the budget cap was implemented. Since Haas is an engine customer of Ferrari and a much smaller team, Ferrari uses this trick to help the American team out and avoid laying workers off.

Haas team boss Guenther Steiner (left) with Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto (right) (Image Credit: Getty Images)

But with the rising prices problem, there’s still a risk that even Ferrari might have to cut team members in an effort to stay below costs. 

This issue raises the question of driver salary caps. Is it fair that drivers are paid millions of dollars every year while team member salaries are continually getting cut to stay within the budget? 

Horner could be bringing these issues up out of genuine concern or he might simply be trying to force the FIA to act in his team’s favor. Either way, the problem of the cost cap remains a topical one.

Feature Image Credit: Getty Images

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