Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has urged Formula One’s rulers to risk the wrath of Ferrari and Mercedes by rubber-stamping their “ambitious” blueprint for the sport.
Liberty Media, the American conglomerate which is now in its second year at the helm of F1, presented its post-2020 vision in an hour-long summit led by chairman Chase Carey and technical boss Ross Brawn on Friday morning.
It tabled a 150 million US dollar (£106million) cost cap, a cheaper, simpler engine, and the redistribution of the prize pot to enable greater competition.
The verdict among the majority of teams was one of optimism with Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams declaring that Liberty’s proposed new dawn could safeguard the very future of the British team.
But the same could not be said of the sport’s big-spending two: Mercedes and Ferrari. Both have already been vocal over their disdain of Liberty’s future plans with the latter threatening to walk away from the sport.
Ferrari are poised to keep their unique heritage payment – a one-off annual fee paid to them for being the only constructor to have contested every single F1 season – but their financial award could now be significantly reduced.
Indeed the number in the paddock was reported to be nearer to 50 million dollars (£35.5million) than the 100 million dollars (£71million) they currently pocket every year.
Mercedes, winners of the past four driver and team championships, will also be unsettled by proposed cost-cutting measures.
Their resounding success has been bankrolled by a budget of £300million; Ferrari marginally more. Both are bound to the sport until the expiration of the Concorde Agreement in 2020, but whether they now stay beyond the next three seasons could be determined by a series of individual meetings Liberty plans to hold with all 10 teams.
Horner, whose Red Bull team have been starved of glory since the last significant engine change in 2014, however, believes Liberty must now deliver on their vision.
“It needs to be done within the next couple of months,” Horner said. “It is ambitious but they have got to go for it.
“The bottom line of the proposal is that it is going to have a much bigger effect on three or four teams running at the front of the grid.
“The guys from fourth downwards are potentially going to get a lot of upside, so you should see some fairly happy faces down that end of the paddock.”
Among those smiling was Williams. The British team, founded by her father Sir Frank Williams in the 1970s, have struggled to compete in recent campaigns. Jacques Villeneuve won the last of their seven drivers’ championships more than two decades ago.
The Oxfordshire outfit work to a budget of around £100million – among the lowest on the grid – so it was no surprise to see Williams laud Liberty’s proposal as a victory for the sport’s independent teams.
“I came back from the meeting thinking let’s crack open some champagne,” Williams said. “If we can get these new regulations through, and if Liberty and Formula One Management do everything they say they are going to do, then I know that Williams’ future is safe.
“With the way the sport is currently structured and with the financial disparity between teams, the likelihood of Williams’ survival into the medium and long-term was looking pretty bleak.
“But if their proposal is blueprinted then it does protect the survival of Williams. I want our team to be competing and hopefully winning in this sport for the next two, three, or four decades.”