As you may be aware the teams in F1 have to pay an entrance fee to be on the grid for the season. Turns out It’s not enough to simply pitch up with a compliant car, get it to a track and go racing, hoping for the best (which is why Eddie Jordan is on the telly these days).
Until this year this flat buy-in amounted to about £250,000. It didn’t mater if you were Ferrari or HRT – that was what it cost.
From next season onwards however, everything has changed to a new, rather curious sliding scale where you end up paying more depending on how well you did the year before.
The new system has a base entrance fee of USD $500,000 and then after that you pay a premium on top for every championship point your team scored in the season previous. In practical terms this means that from next year onwards it would cost us about £312,000 (in entrance fees alone) to get Badger GP on the grid for the Aussie GP next March. Lets not worry that we’ve already missed the deadline (as sadly have HRT), have no money, team, car, driver or sponsors not to mention little-to-no knowhow. To boot our new wind tunnel, which is a empty loo roll with a straw attached with sticky tape has been giving disappointing results so far. We’d get in at the bargain basement minimum as… unsurprisingly… we didn’t score any championship points in 2012 (apparently computer games don’t count). Perhaps we should get that Kobayashi style Kickstarter campaign going after all.
Move up the grid and the bigger boys get taxed at a whopping US$5000 / £3100 per point meaning that Ferrari with their conveniently round points total of 400 will have to pony up $2.5 million / £1.56 million in 2013 which is five times the base entrance fee. It’s even worse for ‘poor old’ Red Bull who, as a reward for winning the constructors championship this year have the honour of paying a bonus $1000 per point on all of their 2012 total of 460 making the charge to defend their title $3.36 million!
In a lot of ways this new system looks fairer, the little guys pay the minimum and the rich lads up front get to fund what ever it is that the (not for profit) FIA spends it’s cash on. That said this hides the huge increase in total take that the FIA can expect this season. If you add it all up, the eleven teams contesting the 2013 season will have to pay, in total, more than $16 million in entrance fees between them. Even with our dodgy adding up this figure is more than 300% higher than this years $4.83. That’s gotta buy a lot of nice new embroidered shirts for Jean Todt.
It could also be argued that this new system is counter intuitive and a little unfair. Why should you have to pay more if you do well? And does it not mean that the smaller teams might be scared to score points? Red Bull might have the cash but what if Marussia go on a charge next year and rack up 50 points? It’ll cost em $250,000, which is a fair amount down the back end of the grid. Dig deeper however and it quickly becomes apparent that it’s not all bad as on the flip side 50 points would most likely put them in about 8th or 9th place in the championship netting them about $15 million (yes million) more in prize money (give or take the intricacies of F1’s highly secretive and confusing prize money system).
Money, so much money. I wonder if Bernie will lend us a tenner…