Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Setup for a farce

Of course, since the FIA is involved, that's a given these days.

So the news of the moment is that the FIA has decided on a budget cap for 2010 of £30 million (roughly US$42 million). This is to include everything including driver salaries. Participation within the cap is voluntary; however participation will yield unlimited technical freedom in some areas. The FIA promises to tweak those areas of technical freedom on an ongoing basis to ensure parity between the capped and unlimited teams.

Left unspecified is the time frame of this cap -- could a team spend $50 million this year on development for next, and still count as a "capped" team?

I can already see loopholes. Capped teams will be permitted to pay dividends to their owners should they turn a profit (as some likely will). These owners can be engineers, drivers, and other organizations.

So follow my whimsy for a minute.

Lets say you have a cap team at $42 million that sees revenues of $100 million (not unreasonable today), for a profit of $58 million. So what you do is you sell part of your team to your driver of the year. He takes a nominal salary for the year, and at the end of the year receives his dividend on the profit. Once he's done this, he sells his share of the team back to the ownership group (or, more likely, on to the driver for the next year).

Of course it will only work while the team is turning a profit, but since most teams see more revenues than $42 million (and the top teams well in excess of that), there's profit to be shared.

Naturally there is a lot of ground to cover before anything like this come to be reality, but this thought exercise shows the futility of trying to limit expenditures.