Budget cap gamble paid off for Alfa Romeo
"A penalty for the cost cap, so to speak"
Sauber-run Alfa Romeo appears to have benefitted in more ways than one by taking more control of its Swiss-based Formula 1 team.
With the budget cap, the big technology and engine makers - predominantly Ferrari and Mercedes - reportedly insisted upon provisions whereby smaller teams who buy their components also have to take a corresponding reduction to their annual allowable spent.
Alfa Romeo baulked at that and, for 2022, gambled instead on building its own gearbox and rear end at Hinwil rather than keep buying from Ferrari.
"That gave the team more technical freedom," wrote Auto Motor und Sport editor Michael Schmidt.
"It was the only way the designers could switch from pullrod to pushrod at the rear and implement their preferred installation concept," he added.
"Many claim that this newfound flexibility is also the secret behind the Sauber C42 being on the weight limit while the other cars are not."
Curiously, technical boss Jan Monchaux admits that Alfa Romeo was actually pushed into the decision to build more of its own parts.
"It’s mainly to do with the budget cap," he confirmed.
"Read the financial rules. The big manufacturers have ensured that you get a sum deducted as soon as you buy something from them. A penalty for the cost cap, so to speak.
"The problem is the sum the FIA agreed with the teams - it’s very high. With this penalty of development costs, it was clear to us that the only way for us to design the gearbox and rear suspension ourselves.
"Doing it ourselves doesn’t matter as much to us as the FIA and the big teams claim," Monchaux explained.
For instance, had Sauber continued to buy the Ferrari gearbox and suspension, the team’s budget cap for 2022 would have dropped from $140 million to $130m.
"That’s too much for us," he said. "You can do it for a little more than a third if you do it yourself. That’s why it’s a big saving for us."
Meanwhile, Monchaux says Alfa Romeo is proud of apparently being the only team on the 2022 grid with a car that actually meets the minimum total weight.
He said the eleventh-hour 3kg addition on the eve of the 2022 season was a blow.
"It was like being a football team and just before the start of a game, someone decided that it was necessary to put 13 rather than 11 players on the field," said Monchaux.
"In sport, someone is always better at their job," he told motorsport-magazin.com. "But in football you don’t go to the management and say you’re going to start the season with 13 players or you’ll lose.
"So it was a little annoying because we did our job better than many others."