Stoffel Vandoorne, HWA, Formula E, Santiago, 2019

Vandoorne not considering options outside Formula E yet

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In the round-up: Stoffel Vandoorne says he isn’t looking at racing in a championship outside Formula E at the moment.

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What they say

The former McLaren driver Vandoorne is racing for HWA in Formula E:

I’m allowed to do some more stuff but the main programme will always be Formula E.

To be honest now is very busy actually with fitting everything in because we do a lot of preparation work before the events. Because it’s a one-day event, everything happens during one day. That’s a very different way of going racing, you need to go in there 100% prepared during the day we have no time to look at a data trace or analyse anything. The preparation is key, I would say.

I think at some point if there is some opportunities to do some other racing next to this we’ll have to evaluate. But so far nothing is on the radar.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

The idea of a budget cap goes against what F1 is supposed to be, says PeterG:

I still do not think a budget cap is enforceable. Also, I fear there will be unintended consequences that will do more harm than good. I also just feel that it isn’t what F1 should be.

In terms of unintended consequences what happens if a team makes a big error with there car design and ends up not been able to develop it at the rate they need to in-order to become competitive thanks to the budget cap. Thinking of a McLaren 2009 type situation, would they have been able to recover if a budget cap was in place?

Similarly what if we have a good championship fight but towards the end of the year one team hits the cap and the other is able to carry on development? that could have a negative effect on the title fight with one team having a hand behind there back.

I also do not feel it’s what F1 should be doing as it essentially starts turning it into IndyCar-plus, a budget series masquerading as F1.

This isn’t supposed to be equal, it’s not supposed to have half the field in contention, it’s supposed to be a technically advanced, expensive series that is the pinnacle of the sport. That is what it is always been and should always be, if you want equality then go watch IndyCar or something.

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  • 32 comments on “Vandoorne not considering options outside Formula E yet”

    1. CotD is missing the point, budget cap is not about equality, it’s about reducing the huge gap between the top and the bottom. No one is expecting the backmarker teams to all of a sudden be competing on even terms with Ferrari and Mercedes… But it would be nice not to have them 3-5 seconds per lap behind to the point where the only time it’s worth covering them on the broadcast is when they’re being lapped or have crashed. As it stands they are essentially irrelevant.

      One would think managing the budget and not spending all your money at the start of the year without leaving any for development throughout it would be a hallmark of a good team.

      Taking any argument to the extreme and then countering that is pointless, increased taxes for the top 10% of earners doesn’t mean equality of income and socialism all of a sudden, just like a budget cap for F1 doesn’t mean it’s going to turn into a spec series. It just prevents the top 3 teams from spending more on their cars than the rest of the field combined.

      Sure if we don’t want to rally against a budget cap, that’s fine, but what’s the point in shooting it down by saying it’s going to turn F1 into a spec series which is obviously not going to happen? Why is developing the best car you can within a still ridiculously high budget, but a budget none-the-less so much worse than spending as much as you can?

      1. “don’t want” should be “want”… still hankering for that edit button :P

      2. Strongly agree for so many reasons.

        In-equality is destroying the sport and the budget cap is a tool to re-dress that (perhaps not completely but to some extent). The linearity of money spent to lap time gained is well understood and accepted. Hence a bigger budget directly relates to a significant advantage on track. And if you accept the principle of that (and anyone on these forums should), then what you are basically accepting is F1 at it’s core is a competition for money. Which let’s face it, is basically what modern F1 is (and IMO one reason why viewers switch off).

        An F1 with 13 sustainable teams, all with similar staff numbers, resources and funding, competing on relatively equal terms is a competition I would love to see. A true battle of engineering and design, not business and marketing.

        It would still be expensive and it could be much LESS of a spec series than it currently is, as the FIA wouldn’t need to use design restrictions and regulations to tighten the field. It could easily be more innovative and technically advanced. Formula E has surely proven that money doesn’t equal innovation and technology.

        F1 should be a sport first and foremost, and by definition that means an equal starting point and fairness of competition. Provide that, and then you can have more design freedom and ingenuity, and get back to the true spirit of F1 should be.

      3. Agree as well.

        Fears of F1 turning into IndyCar-plus are seriously overblown. A $200 million annual cap is at least 10 times the budget for an equivalent two-car team in IndyCar.

      4. Great comment there @skipgamer

    2. 2 thumbs up for the COTD.

      1. Oh, and while I’m at it, It wasn’t massive budgets that made Williams, Mclaren, Lotus, Brabham etc. WCC’s, it was a more open set of regulations and some smart thinking.

        1. Cmon, I’m happy to be proven wrong but the budgets of independent teams compared to the manufacturer teams in past eras were much more comparable. A lot of the money in the past for all teams came from tobacco companies, not the manufacturers themselves. Do you think McLaren paid Prost and Senna peanuts?

          1. @skipgamer, C’mon, do you think Prost and Senna would have signed up to join Mclaren if it were not already a top team?

            1. I’m not sure how that furthers your argument.

          2. @skipgamer, as you note, most of those teams were, comparatively speaking, quite wealthy for their time. In fact, I would argue that most of those teams did in fact become significant players in the sport because of their relative wealth.

            When Lotus signed their deal with JPS and widened the sport up to commercial sponsorship, that deal was, for what was a pretty niche sport for the time, a pretty significant injection of cash.

            Similarly, Williams’s rise to the front at the start of the 1980s came in a period when they were the first team to have a budget that ran into several million pounds a year (£2.2 million in 1980). It might seem trivial now, but back then that was a budget that made them the wealthiest team around in the sport and transformed them from a relatively minor team into a championship winning one.

            However, by the end of the 1980s it was McLaren’s rising wealth that helped take them to the front – staff moving from other teams, such as Steve Hallam (who moved from Lotus to McLaren around then) noted that the scale of McLaren’s operations were vast compared to those of rival teams, and that was down to the growth in McLaren’s budget (£50 million by the late 1980s – inflation adjusted, they were spending the equivalent of about £130 million a year now). It is unlikely to be a coincidence that McLaren’s rise in that period coincided with them becoming the richest team in the sport – as, when you account for the benefits in kind they got from Honda, they were in fact richer than even manufacturers like Ferrari.

            Brabham’s success in the early 1980s also came in a period when they were being backed up by BMW, and at a time when BMW was happy to throw resources and engines at them – other teams were often shocked by the fact that Brabham could afford to blow half a dozen engines in the practise sessions alone, each one costing a small fortune by themselves, and BMW would just keep cranking out more new engines to replace them.

            As you note, the money paid by the teams is only part of the story, since we know from the fact that some of the tobacco companies have had to open up access to their accounts that at least some of the spending in the sport went through them instead. Individuals like Senna, for example, were being paid directly by Marlboro, not by McLaren – so driver salaries were often not appearing in the budgets of some teams, acting as a way to keep certain expenses “off the books”.

            “Smart thinking” is all very well, but that is no use to you if you don’t have the money to turn those ideas into a workable part.

            1. In 1996 (the earliest year for which I have figures), Ferrari was an outlier and spent £50 m to initiate its rebuilding phase. The other two top teams of that time, Williams and Benneton, spent around £30 m each to attempt a title win (to very differing outcomes). Jordan spent £17 m to be a respectable midfielder and the (rumoured) figure to scrape at the back was between £5 m-£10 m, depending on how much debt you felt like having at the end of the season.

              Roll on 2017, and not much has changed apart from the scale. If you have half the title-winner’s funds, you cannot expect to fight with them. If you have half a typical midfielder’s budget, you cannot expect to complete the season in a solvent manner (though thanks to easier credit for big businesses these days, you may still be a midfielder on the day this happens).

              Interestingly, this didn’t apply in the early 2000s (I’m thinking 2001-2004 here, for that is when I have approximated numbers). The outlier then was Toyota, with a bigger budget than Mercedes is believed to spend now, to get considerably less silverware. The actual title-contending teams, Ferrari and McLaren, tended to hover around the £300 m mark (give or take a few tens). However, halving that wouldn’t get you a team like Sauber (a respectable midfielder who were generally spending between a quarter and a third of the title-contender’s money). It would get you teams like Renault and BAR (later) – which were progressing to an eventual title chase (starting just after the period I describe) and converting from outlier status to consistent podium contender respectively. To get to the teams holding on for dear life – the Jordans and Minardis – you had to drop to one-sixth (Jordan) and one-twelth (Minardi) respectively.

              It would be interesting to consider what was known about avoiding financial arms races that was known to the early-2000s paddock power brokers that has been forgotten since.

            2. ANON, all very well but I think you are cherry-picking your facts, these teams didn’t get suddenly rich by racing at the back of the field, Jack Brabham’s success as a constructor came in 1966 with a very low budget, earlier Cooper garages had their success without a massive budget, Lotus were already world champions before tobacco sponsorship.

            3. @hohum, are you talking just in absolute terms, or in terms of relative wealth for the time – the latter shows that those teams were still fairly wealthy even then.

              Lotus’s budget in the early to mid 1960s is, I believe, indicated to be around £100,000. Now, it might not sound like a lot today, but for the time that was fairly substantial – Ferrari’s entire motorsport budget at that same time was about 60% of what Lotus’s budget was, so Lotus were, relatively speaking, still a rich team compared to their rivals at the time.

          3. @skipgamer: Sadly, in another thread we determined there is only a single ‘independent’ team left in F1, Williams. The last garagista.

            Renault is a manufacturer team with manufacturer resources. McLaren, as pointed out to me, is a state-supported manufacturer team with a bigger budget than Renault.

            The remaining B-teams are either beholden to, or subsidiaries of the Top 3: Ferrari, Mercedes and RBR.

            While a budget cap might make F1 more sustainable, or at least cheaper for the big 3, the only team that might receive an advantage, er… fairer playing field, is Williams. That would be great.

            With full corporatization complete, from Liberty to Ferrari, F1 is no longer a battle between the ‘grande’ teams and the ‘garagista’ upstarts. It’s a battle of the corporate brands.

            We can enjoy the 3-way battle at the top with the faint hope of Renault making a challenge or lament about the loss of a bygone tobacco-fuelled ‘independent’ era.

            Even with equal funding, expecting Haas, RP, Toro Roso or Alfa Romeo would be permitted to win a Constructor’s championship is a wishlist item too far down the corporate agenda.

            No matter the budget or the rule changes, B-teams will fill out the grid without threatening the status quo.

            If Merc or RBR or even Ferrari quit F1, then it’s possible an independent team might compete at the top. More likely another manufacturer would fill in. Or Liberty would morph F1 into an Euro-Global-Indy spec series.

            Or F1 would just fold and Bernie would buy it back at 5 cents on the dollar.

            1. I’m not sure if Williams can be considered a small independent, given that it was over 50% larger than Force India pre-buyout, and likely to still be bigger (assuming it still exists) even after the substantial recruitment drive that is going on at Racing Point completes in a few years’ time.

              Sorry, but the time of the small independent team ended with Brawn being bought out by Mercedes at the end of 2009 or Force India accepting a McLaren assistance package including gearbox and powertrain at the end of 2008 (depending on how small and independent you need your teams to be to meet the definition). Ultimately, the last global recession plus the advantage large gearbox manufacturers had over independents ended that era.

    3. COTD raises something i’ve also wondered about under a budget cap. That been what happens if a team badly messes up at the start of the year.

      Using Mclaren in 2009 as the obvious example. They not only caught up but had the budget to continue developing there package to the end of the year to be in contention for wins by the end. Under a budget cap would they have been able to become as competitive as they did?

      Are we going to end up with a situation where teams essentially give up on seasons earlier than they otherwise would knowing that trying to fix there problems & develop further to stay competitive is going to see them use there available budget by mid-season & have nothing left for the end part of the year leaving them no better off than they were to begin with. And if so is this really beneficial to anyone?

      On paper I think the budget cap sounds like a nice idea but I do have concerns that in practice it may well end up introducing a lot of new problems that end up been just as bad (If not worse overall) than what it’s supposed to fix.

      1. @stefmeister @hohum This sounds great to me. As a fan in favour of budget caps, more important to me than equality of outcome is equality of opportunity, so that the results are earned on the merit of a team’s effort and creativity.

        If some teams choose to blow their budget in the offseason and others choose to sit back and save it to copy the best innovations that show up at Melbourne, that sounds utterly fascinating to me. If one team finds the best solution and romps to the championship, that sounds brilliant. The point is that with a budget cap, every team has just as much of an opportunity to do so as the others.

      2. It gets “better”. If you mess up at the start of a regulatory era, there’s little point in putting effort in until it’s time to develop the car for the next regulatory era, because it’s impossible to recover the resource even if the average for the regulatory era is intact. At least if you are at the front or back of the grid. It might be worth it if you are in the middle, depending on how far off the “true” one is.

        The last time “copying the best innovation in Melbourne” worked was in 2009, and that was because although implementing it required a redesign, the court case regarding its legality resulted in a clear explanation of how to do it legally becoming available. The only team that hadn’t relied on this had only not implemented it in Melbourne because it didn’t have the staffing power to do that and make its engine/gearbox manufacturer change work (and cars don’t get very far if their engine/gearbox doesn’t fit). The trick failed with Conada exhausts because too much of that innovation was hidden, and even spending 4 years trying to appeal various aspects didn’t shed enough light on it for most teams to get the full picture. Most teams attempted some version at some point, but as none of them ever had a full view of how it worked, there was always some significant defect in other interpretations.

        The start of the turbo engine era is a great example of what I was talking about in the beginning, for it started with the environment of engine tokens. However, there was no way to recoup a wasted engine token, so when the non-Mercedes engine providers discovered they’d effectively wasted quite a few tokens (but couldn’t tell which ones, let alone how to fix them later), it led to Mercedes keeping a huge advantage that couldn’t be surmounted. This reached the point where engine tokens had to be scrapped, just to keep engine manufacturers interested. Thanks to much increased space to innovate (and probably much increased funding), it took Ferrari 2 years of non-engine-token era to catch up a gap that in any other system would have taken 1. The others will probably never do so in this era.

        If budget caps are seriously held to – which I don’t think will happen without a more wholehearted consent from the big spenders than the usual F1 “we’ll sign the rules, and then put a coach and horses through the loopholes” attitude – expect more of the same, but involving the whole car, for those affected.

    4. @stefmeister, Excellent point, a bit like Honda not being able to scrap their 1st engine and start again or at least make major upgrades. One possible scenario is poor teams starting the year using 98% the previous years car and then try to copy what works on other cars so as to be competitive by mid season. Maybe they already do.

      1. Teams try to copy large parts of the car over when budgets are tight, but at least every other year, every team is forced to re-do 90+% of the car simply to meet design regulations. We’re currently in a phase where three years of a four-year cycle (2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021) are like that.

    5. if you want equality then go watch IndyCar or something

      Great tip, thanks. Hope you enjoy another season of Mercedes and Ferrari driving around by themselves.

    6. CotD misses the point that budget caps are nothing new to F1; every team has a budget cap. They are set by the Business Plan, Board, or Bank. The problem is that all budget caps are different.
      The proposed F1 budget cap makes the (upper) cap the same for all, and closer to what the smaller teams can spend to survive. It will not create full equality but at least a level playing field (or more the size of the playing field is reduced so that smaller teams can cover the whole pitch).

      And a budget cap is not some kind of monster which suddenly stops teams spending on a certain day in the year. The budget cap (like the ones set by Business Plan/Board/Bank today) determines how many people you can hire. Throughout the year (again like today) the teams decide on what they have those people work; do they work on this year’s car as they are still in contention, or do they work on next year’s car.

      And for the older nostalgic fans. Yes, F1 was special and did not need a budget cap in old days. But that was before big corporations and big money took over. As in so many fields of sport and live when big business enters they will take over and ruin the fun for the initial amateurs who primarily did it for fun and passion.

      1. Indeed, even with a budget cap in place there really cannot be a situation where a team suddenly finds itself out of money in the middle of a race weekend and cannot develop the car further. I’d say the budget cap might actually help some teams, as they should know exactly how much they can spend during a season.

      2. @coldfly After the budget car, the Business Plan, Board, or Bank will still set the budget for every team with the possible exception of Williams (as a F1 team publicly quoted in itself, it doesn’t have the same latitude to hide expenditure elsewhere in its networks). All it does is hide the extent of the inequality from casual viewers.

    7. I thoroughly agree with the COTD especially on the second and third paragraphs although @anon @stefmeister @skipgamer @aussierod @hohum @coldfly @markzastrow and @jimmi-cynic all have interesting points as well.

    8. I thoroughly agree with the COTD especially on the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs although a few other posters have interesting points as well.

    9. “This isn’t supposed to be equal, it’s not supposed to have half the field in contention, it’s supposed to be a technically advanced, expensive series that is the pinnacle of the sport.

      When I look back at the old teams working on Grand Prix cars on gravel and dirt or the cars being pushed onto flat bed trucks then covered with tarp, or McLaren with a max of 15 staff attending fly away races. I always wonder how F1 was really supposed to be.
      Back then the cars were still cutting edge designs and pinnacle of motorsport. This was an era when team mangers had time to take part in exhibition races during a race weekend.
      Today the big manufacturers have more money than ever. These companies are also more corrupt than ever, they don’t only want to dominate motorsport they want to cheat laws and systems. Not to mention the public purse with lavish expenditure instead of paying taxes.
      So I start wondering about the obscene motorhomes, hugely expensive PR extravaganzas, big corporate hospitality (that close off complete sections of the circuits (like Melbourne and Monaco) this isn’t racing this is a competition to dominate our minds.

      After watching the McLaren documentary, as the staff walk into work in incredible surroundings (that would make hospital management envious). Sitting down at their desks treated as if they’re already winners before they even get started!
      Their first job is to see/ask how much money is available to start down a new path of investigation involving computer simulation that inevitably gets binned as other paths look more promising. There are documentaries online that show Mercedes having the money to start any new development paths as the engineers see fit. Red Bull, Christian Horner ‘the answer is usually yes’ , Claire Williams ‘the answer is usually, no’

    10. A budget cap will not create equality & will not give the midfield or backmarker teams any more a chance of been in the mix at the front as they have now & I also doubt it will drag them any closer to the front.

      Budget plays a role in performance but that alone isn’t why the likes of Ferrari & Mercedes are so much further ahead.

      They have the best facilities which a budget cap won’t change.
      There success makes them a target for the best engineer’s & drivers which also won’t change.
      But above all else the biggest factor in there performance advantage the past few years is the fact there full manufacturer teams who design/build engine & chassis on site so have been far more able to design there cars around the optimum needs of there power unit than the customer teams are. The Mercedes engine team can make a change to the power unit & with the chassis guys next door that change can be taken into account while designing the car to create a more optimum package.

      A budget cap isn’t going to change any of that.

      All a budget cap is going to change is ensure that those who start a season strong will maintain that for longer due to a slower rate of development & that goes for the midfield as well as the front-runners. You start out off the pace your going to stay off the pace while if you start out with a dominant package your going to maintain it all year because there is going to be less room to develop so performance will be far more static through the entire season.

      1. @gt-racer Excellent points about the limitations of a budget cap.

        I think, though, that the argument that the midfield and backmarkers’ development will be held back by a budget cap would hold more water if in fact the proposed cap reduced the budgets of said teams—but according to @dieterrencken‘s reporting of the 2018 team budgets, there are only four teams that would be affected by the proposed $200 million initial cap, and three of them are Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull. Even if the most restrictive $150 million cap on the glide path is eventually adopted, that affects only one more team.

        I think the benefits of a budget cap (which in terms of competitive parity will likely be more modest than some seem to think, for all the reasons you and others mention) have to be judged against the significant cost of not having a cap—in which case teams will quite possibly cease to exist or further embed themselves within a factory team a la Haas and Sauber. A budget-capped F1 is a far more stable and enticing F1, which should spur more teams to join—as well as engine manufacturers, increasing the odds that midfield runners can become works teams themselves. I’d love to see a full grid of 26 cars, and a budget cap is the only way that seems plausible at this point.

    11. @gt-racer Makes sense. Perhaps they need to head back toward the concept of a team being able to install someone’s good Pu in someone else’s good car and go racing, rather than having to be an all encompassing manufacturer of both, with the in-house benefits that provides, in order to succeed. Brawn has hinted at that for the future, but of course has been stalled out on that due to resistance from the makers who have invested in the technology so heavily already, and want to keep both MGU’s. Brawn would like more of a simpler plug and play concept as F1 had been for years prior to this complex hybrid era.

      That said, I struggle to make sense out of NOT trying to cap budgets, and just rather proceeding as currently, with the resourced teams continuing to grow their facilities and staff ad infinitum, leaving the lesser teams behind even further, and scaring away any potential new entrants.

      Even in the plug and play era the more resourced teams had the better odds of nailing a good merger of chassis and engine, and hence trophies, but lesser teams had more of a chance of success than they do today. So for me, perhaps a budget cap isn’t going to solve everything, but I don’t see how not doing one is going to advance F1. Teams being forced to spend less, and let’s face it that is only the top 4 we’re talking about, might help their parent entities justify staying in F1 longer, and give lesser teams and new entrants who don’t have to worry about overspending, some sense of reasonableness and hope that those who are their benchmark target aren’t just going to keep spending their way out of any reasonable reach.

    12. Re: COTD

      what happens if a team makes a big error with there car design and ends up not been able to develop it at the rate they need to in-order to become competitive thanks to the budget cap.

      This only applies to the teams with a budgets big enough for such a thing. The rest of the teams don’t have such budgets anyway, so if anything, I see this as a good thing which could shake up the field (if only for a single season). This to me is an argument for budget caps.

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