Discussions are underway between Formula 1 and its teams regarding revisions to the cost cap regulations, with a focus on allowing smaller teams more leeway to close the gap. Although the current system, which was implemented in 2021, has prevented larger teams from investing excessive amounts and distancing themselves too much from the competition, there are still areas where they hold an advantage. Teams are permitted to construct new factories, and exemptions have been granted for new wind tunnels, but any additional infrastructure investments fall under the cap. As a result, those with superior facilities enjoy an inherent advantage, as they are not required to allocate resources intended for car development towards improving infrastructure.

Initial talks were conducted during the most recent F1 Commission meeting, and the majority of stakeholders appear receptive to the idea, subject to further examination. Six teams must support the proposal for it to take effect in 2024, while eight teams would enable it to be implemented as early as this season.

One of the main points of discussion is whether to introduce a sliding scale for the cost cap based on a team’s performance in the previous season. This would mean that the lower a team finishes in the constructors’ championship, the higher its cost cap would be for the following year. The idea is to give smaller teams more room to catch up with their rivals and create a more level playing field.

The concept of a sliding scale has already been applied to aerodynamic testing since 2021, where teams are allocated different amounts of wind tunnel time and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations depending on their championship position. The system has been praised by some team bosses as a fair and effective way to reduce the performance gap between teams.

“I think it’s a very good system,” said McLaren CEO Zak Brown. “It’s not something that you can game or manipulate. It’s very transparent and clear for everyone. And I think it will achieve what we’re all trying to achieve, which is get all the cars closer together.”

However, not everyone is in favour of extending the sliding scale to other areas of spending. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has expressed his concerns about the potential impact on innovation and competitiveness in Formula 1.

“I think we need to be careful that we don’t over-regulate things and end up with a situation where everything becomes very equalised,” he said. “Formula 1 is about cutting-edge technology and excellence. We don’t want to lose that DNA.”

Another issue that has been raised is how to account for different business models among teams. Some teams, such as Ferrari and Mercedes, are manufacturers that also supply engines and other components to customer teams. Others, such as Haas and AlphaTauri, are more dependent on buying parts from their partners. The current cost cap regulations have different exclusions and allowances for these different scenarios, but some teams have argued that they are still at a disadvantage compared to others.

“We need to find a way to make sure that every team has a fair chance to compete,” said Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski. “There are some teams that have more resources than others outside the cost cap, and that gives them an edge. We need to address that somehow.”

Formula 1’s managing director Ross Brawn has acknowledged that the cost cap regulations are not perfect and that they will need to be refined over time. He has also stressed that any changes will be made in consultation with all stakeholders and with the best interests of the sport in mind.

“We are always open to feedback and suggestions from the teams,” he said. “We want to make sure that the cost cap works for everyone and that it achieves its objectives of improving competitiveness, sustainability and fairness in Formula 1.”