A couple of things caught my attention in the last week and they both centered on the same thing—money. If you hadn’t heard the news, in 2014 F1 will be going back to the turbo-charged cars in what is likely to be a 1.6 liter V6. Also the cars will have to be hybrids—kind of. The big change is that the cars have to run on electric power in the pit lanes and on gas on the track. This is all part of a campaign to make F1 a tad greener. We can argue the merits of turbo/hybrid cars another time. The big issue is here is money. F1 will essentially have to go back to the drawing board with their design which means massive investment. Unfortunately, we’re in the middle of a global recession and in the words of the Valentine Brothers, money’s too tight to mention. I don’t know if the 2014 regulations are cast in stone yet, but if they are, there are rumblings that there’ll be cutbacks in F1 budgets in some shape or form and salaries might be the place where it happens.
Another indicator that the boom times might be over in F1 came in a comment that Ron Dennis (McLaren’s head honcho) made at the Canadian Grand Prix at the weekend. He was asked about contract negotiations with Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton is in the last year of his contract. It’s been speculated before that McLaren could lose Hamilton to the likes of Red Bull. The interesting comment Ron Dennis made was that he’d like to have Hamilton stay, but Hamilton needed to remember that he signed a contract before the economic crash and people needed to be realistic about salary demands. Was that a public reminder to Hamilton that he shouldn’t expect a pay boost? It seemed like it, but it could also be a McLaren negotiating tactic. Either way, it’s the first time I’ve ever heard that F1 one was feeling the economic pinch.
All I can say is that we live interesting times. :-)