F1 could axe Friday morning practice sessions next year, as teams consider how to cut costs in the absence of a mandatory budget cap.
Although keenly supported by the small teams, and championed by FIA president Jean Todt, the 2015 budget cap was vetoed by the powerful ‘Strategy Group’ teams including grandees Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes. The smaller teams are furious, but in a crisis meeting in London last week, they were asked to come back in a fortnight with some cost-cutting rule proposals of their own. Germany’s Sport Bild claims that one of the measures under consideration is reducing the grand prix weekend by one 90-minute practice session from 2015. Another proposed rule change is the extension of the current ‘parc ferme’ regulations.
Currently, the specification of the cars is effectively ‘frozen’ only after qualifying, meaning that until then new parts are almost constantly flown in from the teams’ European factories at huge expense. It is now proposed that, for 2015, ‘parc ferme’ is to come into effect immediately after a sole practice session on Friday afternoon.
Sport Bild reports that, at Biggin Hill last week, the teams also discussed limiting aerodynamic updates – for example a maximum of four front wing specification changes per season – but could not unanimously agree. “There was a meeting last week,” confirmed Mercedes’ Toto Wolff, “and costs were discussed. It is the unanimous opinion of the teams that costs must be drastically reduced.” However, he defended the big teams’ decision to veto the budget cap. “We have to be honest,” he is quoted by Speed Week. “There are big differences in the agendas of the teams. “If you think about Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari – and also McLaren who are with Honda from next year – the main objective is to represent a multinational, global brand. “And that is of course very different from the small teams who are simply there to race in formula one. “But formula one is all of these teams together, the big and the small, and you have to respect that and find solutions that will help everyone in the long term. “The budget cap is a difficult one, because there are some teams who do not want it. And also by their very design it would be very difficult to control, such as for Ferrari who have the formula one team all under the same roof as the major global company,” Wolff explained.