Alfa’s Zehnder sees ‘difficult adjustment’ to cost cap for big teams
February 4, 2021
Alfa Romeo team manager Beat Zehnder is confident the Swiss outfit can efficiently negotiate F1’s budget cap constraints but believes the sport’s larger teams could potentially struggle with the adjustment.
Teams will function from this season under a $145 million cost cap, a threshold that will drop incrementally to $135 million by the start of 2023.
Introduced with the aim of producing a more level playing field, the financial change is providing various challenges across the field depending on the magnitude of the scale-back, which is logically significant for front-running outfits such as Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari.
Asked if the budget cap will indeed benefit F1’s smaller team, Zehnder believes it will, but not immediately.
“Yes, but not for 2022,” the Swiss told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.
“We are very efficient. If I look at and compare the employee list of all teams, then we have always had very few employees on the racetrack.
“However, the benefit will only be felt in 2023 and 2024.
“The big teams won’t fire their 300 to 400 people overnight. They will use the transition phase to develop the new cars for 2022 with more resources and personnel.”
Zehnder says that historically, significant regulation changes in F1 have always benefitted the sports’ bigger teams. But this time could be different.
“The rich teams have always had an advantage when the regulations were changed,” he added.
“With this process, however, it can be that the large teams will find it more difficult in the adjustment phase than the teams that do not have to change anything.”
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Looking ahead to the 2021 season, Zehnder says F1 will need once again to take a cautious approach to the year, with some races likely to remain at risk of being cancelled due to the global pandemic situation.
“I personally believe that we have to take the season step by step after the start in Bahrain,” he said.
“As things stand today, we could go to Imola. But I cannot imagine that the government in England will let us have a Grand Prix with the current infection situation.
“As of today, we probably couldn’t go to the Nürburgring either. The whole situation is very volatile.
“The vaccination will work at some point, but it doesn’t happen as quickly as we all hoped it would. I think that will only help us in the second half of the season.
“At the moment I don’t see that we can drive on temporary tracks, even if Monte Carlo has assured that they want to run the race.”
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