The art of control continues to elude Formula One

The cost cap Caterham had expected to see on their F1 arrival never materialised. Picture: Charles Coates/LAT The cost cap Caterham had expected to see on their F1 arrival never materialised. Picture: Charles Coates/LAT

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
4:59 PM

It is remarkable that just four races into the new season – one which has included so many fundamental changes to the cars and technologies – there is already major discussion about the direction Formula One needs to take for 2017.

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Good week, bad week

Pole position – Lewis Hamilton: As well as his superb form on the track, Lewis can bask in the glory of being named Britain’s richest sportsman. And to think, that’s before he’s released any of his musical creations.

Stalling – Bernie Ecclestone: The Formula One supremo has been back in court in Germany, reiterating his innocence of bribery charges.

The proposals are taking on added interest because not only are they aimed at the cars; they are trying to paper over F1’s biggest crack – cost.

While many will look at the poor performance of Caterham and Marussia since arriving in 2010, as well as HRT that lasted three seasons and USF1 that never made it at all, it’s worth remembering the teams all expected to join a formula with an imposed cost cap.

That cap never came to fruition, and those left had to contemplate a much more expensive venture into the sport.

The debate, in truth, hasn’t moved on that far. Once again, there are calls for F1 to control its costs – otherwise teams like Lotus, Sauber and Williams may also find the financial black hole swallows them up. And once again, it seems too many people are intent on finding alternatives. The sport’s big boys definitely present a problem. They spend the money, they bring the pedigree and ultimately, they call the shots. Controlling costs in that environment appears almost impossible.

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So come 2017, there may be more parts of the cars that are homogenised – although Mercedes are already being vocal over the fact it would be good to have the room to develop those components.

That would effectively rule out such moves saving anyone any money – while at the same time, the team is already less than keen on capping costs; they’re not sure it could work.

Which, after a quick trip in a circle, proves F1 still has a long way to go before most teams would dare to call is sustainable.

Thursday brings one of Formula One’s most poignant anniversaries – the death of Ayrton Senna.

The Brazilian star and multiple world champion had special ties to this part of the world – and a special talent too.

If you want to be reminded of that – or simply discover it – then catch the film, Senna.

The San Marino Grand Prix at Imola in 1994 remains arguably the most affecting weekend F1 has ever experienced, with young Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger also killed on track. And while Formula One fights so many battles inside the sport and outside with others, they should rightly defer to celebrating a great talent and reflecting on the loss.

Let’s hope F1 never experiences another weekend like this time 20 years ago.

And make sure you catch the EDP’s Weekend magazine on Saturday, which will have a feature on the Norfolk links of Ayrton Senna.

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