Liberty Media is trying to formulate rules that affect racing on and off the track from 2021, a paradigm shift that could change the sport forever.
And while a lot of discussion has been about how the aerodynamic and technical changes will affect the sport, even the minuscule ‘out of race track’ changes are being monitored and revolted against by the F1 teams.
Liberty Media is planning to ban the teams from using a ‘virtual garage’ so as to reduce costs and improve the quality of racing.
The remote garage was used as a means to contribute to a team’s race efforts remotely.
Now, Liberty have played the ‘money card’ in order to force this move through, but Szafnauer, Force India’s chief operating officer feels that it unlikely to save any money for the teams and for F1.
“Here’s the thing: What cost? We have the virtual garage already and so does everyone else,”
“So what cost? That cost is sunk. Getting rid of it is only going to cost everyone. We already have it.” he said as quoted by Racefans.
Szafnauer has pointed out a very important thing about how things use the virtual garage. Teams do not hire a separate staff for the virtual garage, instead it is for those who can’t make it to the race weekend. He even cites an example to substantiate his point.
“The people that we employ for that virtual garage are people that we already employ,” Szafnauer said.
“Andrew Greeen is the technical director. [He] isn’t employed to sit in the virtual garage, he’s employed as a technical director.
“But when he doesn’t travel he’s there. It’s just the opposite. We run two strategists, one per car. One of them doesn’t travel, he’s in the virtual garage. Now if they get rid of that we’ll have them travel. It costs you more.
“We have sponsorship for it. We’d lose that too. So then you’ve got to ask yourself if there is no cost benefit for getting rid of the virtual garage are they [Liberty] asking us to get rid of it because we compete with them on sponsorship?” he concluded.
Earlier, Toto Wolff and Mercedes too have spoken about how banning of the virtual garages could be a bad idea.