The return of Formula 1 has renewed discussion of the category’s 2021 budget cap, with teams limited to spending $145million in an effort to level the playing field and lower the barriers to entry for teams and new manufacturers.
Would the same principle – on a smaller scale – work for the World Rally Championship?
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team boss Richard Millener likes the idea, but wonders about the implementation.
“On paper, yes,” he said when asked if he supported the measure, “but in reality, it’s very difficult.
“If you look at F1 now, they’re even struggling to understand how they’re going to implement this and they’re having to employ a lot of additional people to actually do all the paperwork and make sure people adhere to the spending cap.
“There’s probably always ways around a spending cap, but I think there’s certainly some elements we could look to control a little bit more. And I think, again, we’re actually doing that behind the scenes in the best possible way.
“But an actual general spending cap will be very difficult to control and you don’t want to spend too much resources on trying to do that and taking away from the sport in general.”
It’s widely known across the service park that M-Sport’s budget is considerably smaller than that of Tommi Mäkinen’s manufacturer-backed Toyota Gazoo Racing outfit and of the factory Hyundai Motorsport operation.
Despite the disparity in spending power, Millener said the results of recent years were also worth considering.
He added: “We’ve had three incredibly close years of competition with no spending cap, so you’ve got to look at some positives as well from that. And not necessarily say the answer to more people [competing] is just to stop people spending money.”
Millener’s opposite number at Hyundai Andrea Adamo doubted an F1-style budget cap could be successfully policed.
“The spending cap will always be the budget that all the manufacturers have available,” said Adamo. “This is the real spending cap. I really don’t understand how you can manage a spending cap or how you can control spending at all.
“When I will see the spending cap in the future, I will trust it. I don’t believe it. I think that there are [sporting and technical] rules so that you can properly manage the money.”
Toyota man Mäkinen was similarly unconvinced with the idea, adding: “I’m not sure. It’s hard to say and I can’t say where it could be – or would be – any good either.”
As the World Rally Championship marches forward, to a backdrop of global economic uncertainty, towards ground-breaking regulation change in 2022, budget concerns have rarely been higher in the service park.