Formula 1

McLaren boss believes F1's small teams created own financial problems

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McLaren CEO Ron Dennis has claimed Formula 1's smaller teams caused many of their own financial problems despite what is perceived as an unfair distribution of the sport's income.

With Manor GP, formerly Marussia, making a last-ditch attempt to make the grid in 2015 and Force India delaying the introduction of its new car, the issue of costs in F1 continue to be a hot topic for many.

Indeed now the sport's Strategy Group is meeting to discuss proposals as to how to make F1 more appealing to a wider audience, with statistics showing another large drop in TV viewing figures, but cost is likely to be a sticking point for some over certain ideas.

The story of the budget cap

One idea that the Strategy Group will not discuss, however, is a budget cap as the revival of the idea almost a year ago was quickly squashed by top teams and Bernie Ecclestone.

It had been an idea that has been floating around for several years with a limit of expenditure first set to be introduced back in 2010, however, when it was rejected in favour of what was called the RRA (Resource Restriction Agreement) the push for a cap ended.

A few years later though, as it became clear some top teams were breaking the RRA, that agreement fizzled out along with FOTA, the F1 teams association, and we were left with the current structure we have today with the Strategy Group holding the power and small teams feeling left out of the whole process.

The FIA President Jean Todt was responsible for the renewed push for a cap last April before its eventual rejection for a second time but later in the year the collapse of Caterham and Marussia, with both entering administration, brought the topic firmly back into the public domain.

Low budget teams need financial discipline

However, Ron Dennis continues to dismiss the budget cap as a resolution instead believing it should be upto those smaller teams to better manage their finances.

"It happens year on year on year on year, Formula One teams spend the money they've got, and they always will," the long-time McLaren chief told ESPN.

"They'll find new ways to spend money that you wouldn't even believe, if they've got it. The actual cost constraint has to be exercised by the senior management of a Formula One team, cost constraints can't be controlled by an outside entity.

"You've got to decide what you're going to spend because it doesn't matter people impose on you, if you want to spend more money this is a sport that will absorb anything you want to spend it on. It's self-discipline of the teams that is required."

Alternate motive for cap on spending 

Indeed Dennis believes it is not finances that is motivating the smaller teams push for a spending cap instead its a desire to find ways of being more competitive against the bigger teams.

"Most of the small teams, when you discuss with them quietly and rationally, their argumentation of where costs should be saved is very, very dimly camouflaged because what they're really saying is 'if we impose this cost constraint on you, the big teams, you'll be more competitive'. The argument is usually focused on things they haven't got, rather than saving money.

"It's such a big multiple - three times more to be competitive than it is to compete. People are competing, you're never going to be competitive by trying to impose cost control on those who spend three times as much. How are you going to make them competitive if the ground figure is 50 [million pounds] and we're spending 150?" he added.

All about gaining an advantage

While what Dennis said is something we've heard time and time again from the top teams, the reality is its the same argument for everybody. If those at the front can find any area to find an advantage over their competitors then they exploit it for as long as possible.

Much of the holier than thou attitude from the smaller teams worked to gain the backing of fans following the demise of Caterham and Marussia last year but Dennis is right to point out its upto team bosses to compete within their means.

It's the same in any team sport, the best teams normally have the most money and can therefore afford better players or in F1's case afford to put in the development to make the best cars.

Small teams have themselves to blame

The distribution of income is certainly something that does need addressing, last year the spike in the basic costs to compete in F1 went beyond the means of what small teams could manage, but it should be upto the teams and Bernie Ecclestone to negotiate a deal that works and lets not forget those smaller teams agreed to their current deals by signing the Concorde Agreement.

The alternative motives of some teams were hinted at by the blocking of Manor to use their 2014 car in the first few races, as the smaller teams would then claim a portion of the funds Manor are entitled to after finishing ninth in last year's Constructors' championship, yet the team that officially said no, Force India, will use their 2014 car at this week's second test in Barcelona.

What is abundantly apparent is the politics behind the scenes are merely cat and mouse games between those who have the power and the resources to be at the top and those who don't and that is something that will be a part of F1 for as long as it exists.

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