FEBRUARY 27, 2024

F1 moves to close budget cap loopholes

Formula 1 is moving to close loopholes in the budget cap rules - but only in time for 2026.

Ferrari team, Abu Dhabi GP 2023
© Ferrari

It was expected that by limiting spending, teams would become smaller. But the opposite has happened, with top team head-counts actually swelling from what was already alarming staff numbers of up to 1000 people.

The top teams are now employing 1,500 people without the engine department, one team boss told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

The rising numbers are because of a loophole in which some full-time staff are now being moved to part time - because only some of their income then needs to be counted.

As for another loophole, the magazine noted: Suddenly, Formula 1 teams are building bikes and boats.

For the swelling staff member loophole, a solid rule will be added to the 2026 regulations requiring that 100 percent of each staff member's pay to count towards the cap.

This is a real step towards more fairness, Williams boss James Vowles says.

But there are other loopholes too - like staff members being shuffled between two partner teams, most notably Red Bull Racing and the newly-rebranded RB team.

RB team boss Laurent Mekies denies any wrongdoing. We have agreed on individual work bans in consultation with the FIA, he insisted.

FIA sporting boss Nikolas Tombazis confirms: Going from a large team to a small team takes (a staff member) three months, and the other way around it's six months.

These arrangements between 'friendly teams' like Red Bull and RB, however, involve voluntary agreements. Tombazis responded: "If such a move takes place between two friendly teams, we will look particularly closely at it.

In any case, quickly switching back and forth between two racing teams is prohibited.