Wolff insists Mercedes isn’t trying to ‘screw’ smaller F1 teams

Inflation has caused concern among some teams that they will not be able to meet the financial restrictions this year.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has highlighted the “extraordinary inflation” and soaring energy bills as reasons for wanting to increase the budget cap.

The budget was set at circa $140 million this season, down $5 million from last year, and this is allocated to development, damage repair, transport of freight and more.

There is therefore only so much money that can be spent on giving hours to employees working on the W13 in Brackley and Brixworth, so Mercedes have been forced to make some “painful” redundancies in order to meet the restrictions.

READ: Red Bull warned Perez’s form could be an ‘outlier’ as team orders becoming ‘uncomfortable’

A more cynical perspective, in Haas boss Guenther Steiner’s eyes, is that Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari are all trying to “outmanoeuvre” the purpose of the spending limit, which was to put all the teams on a level playing field financially.

However, both Christian Horner of Red Bull and Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto have stated their intent to try and raise the cap due to the exponential rise of the cost of living.

Alfa Romeo boss Frederic Vasseur countered that by telling the big teams to “switch off the wind tunnel” to avoid going over the limit.

Wolff is approaching it from a compassionate perspective, insisting that his employees are no longer receiving enough money to meet their needs due to inflation.

“It’s not that we want to generate more profit, it’s literally allowing people to have their salaries compensated for the extraordinary inflation they are suffering from,” explained the Austrian.

Article continues below

“So, it’s not that we suddenly want to have more, but let’s stick to the fact when we entered the year and the premises that we ended the year and then let’s look at the numbers now. And then hopefully we can find a way to adjust.

“I think the worst for the sport is having a stubborn position that some of the smaller teams think that the big ones are trying to gain an advantage and we’re actually going to screw them by not allowing them to do this and us on the other side seeking to lift the ceiling, which we don’t want to do.

“And I can tell you from my position as a team owner, I don’t want to lift the ceiling just to have a cost cap ever increasing and basically outmanoeuvring the initial concept, but I want my people to be well paid especially in such tough circumstances.”

To further explain his point, the 50-year-old divulged that energy bills in Brackley have risen by £4 million.

“I think what we can demonstrate is very easy, our energy costs in Brackley have gone up from £2.5m to £6.5m, our freight costs in a similar way, I think it’s two to six,” added Wolf.

“Black and white, you can follow that on the accounts, look at it in the P&L [profit and loss].

READ: Binotto slams FIA for punishing Ferrari for giving Sainz ‘grossly incorrect information’

“And this is what we’re asking for in terms of an adjustment, which would then allow us to pass some of that over to increase wages.”

As of right now, there does not appear to be any willingness from the FIA to increase the budget cap.