Formula 1 often features tight, wheel-to-wheel racing. The drivers can be battling at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour, and the smallest error can lead to a massive crash and a lot of expensive damage to the car. This can leave fans wondering who pays for crash damage in F1.
F1 teams pay for their own crash damage. This has become a topic of debate among many teams, because of the strict budget caps that have been implemented. Crash damage is an important financial variable teams need to keep in mind throughout the course of the season.
It’s not uncommon for F1 cars to crash, and even the smallest bit of contact can cause damage to a wing or other important part, which could render it practically useless. In the article below, we’ll discuss all the financial ins and outs of crash damage in F1.
F1 crashes can cost a team a lot of money, sometimes in excess of $1 million, depending on the parts that are damaged and the amount of damage there is. For example, a front wing end plate will cost less than the floor of the car, but it could still cost upwards of $150,000 to replace.
Something as simple as the front wing on a Formula 1 car can cost well over $150,000. The thing about these cars is that they are extremely aerodynamically sensitive. The slightest bit of damage to a front wing can cost a car a good chunk of lap time, which means it can’t be used any longer.
In 2022, the floor of the car is more important than ever before. There are sophisticated Venturi tunnels built into the floor and if one of these is damaged, the car may as well retire from the race. Damage to the floor can cost upwards of $600,000.
The reason these parts are all so expensive is because Formula 1 cars are built using incredibly strong and lightweight materials. These materials are ideal for building a Formula 1 car when it comes to performance, but they are extremely pricey.
After an F1 car crashes, the driver will try to get the car back to the pits. However, it depends on the severity of the damage. Front wings can be replaced in a matter of seconds, but if the floor, rear wing, or any other body parts are damaged during the race, the car will need to retire.
After a car crashes during practice or qualifying, the team needs to prepare it for the next session. In some cases, a crash might be so severe that the car misses the next session. For example, if the driver crashes during Free Practice 3, they could miss qualifying and start at the back of the grid.
It’s not just a matter of repairing the damaged parts on the car though. In some cases, high-impact crashes can cause damage to the chassis, gearbox, and engine. These parts need to be thoroughly checked out before the team sends the car back out again.
F1 drivers do not pay for crashes. Instead, there are other repercussions they might face when they crash the car. The biggest is they create a lot of work for their crew members, who sometimes must stay in the garage overnight in order to fix the car and get it ready for the next session.
Drivers will also lose track time. If they crash at the start of a practice session, chances are they won’t be able to drive the car for the rest of the session. This means they will lose the valuable lap time they need in order to fine-tune their setup and race strategy.
Practice sessions are also used to run various qualifying and race simulation programs that are crucial for the team to work out their strategy. If a driver crashes their car and sustains too much damage, they won’t be able to gather the required data for their team to form a good strategy for the race.
If a driver crashes an excessive amount, the team might begin to penalize them for it in some way. For example, their teammates might receive the new upgrades first, or their sponsors could be asked to contribute more money for their race seat.
F1 teams pay for the crash damage to their cars. Any damaged part needs to be replaced and is manufactured by the team. Each F1 car is unique in every way, and teams are responsible for building their own parts. This costs valuable money that could otherwise be spent on upgrades or development.
If a part, a front wing for example, is damaged, the team needs to replace that part. These parts have already been manufactured as spares, so the team has already paid to build the replacement part. However, teams see crash damage as an expense because the damaged part needs to be replaced and can never be used on a car again.
But not all spares are equal. In some cases, a driver might damage their front wing, which could be an upgraded part the team brought to the race in order to test. If the upgraded part is damaged, the driver might have to revert to an older spec front wing, which would be used as a spare.
Some people in F1 have suggested the team that causes a crash should pay for the damage. For example, in the wet 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas steamed into turn one as his brakes locked up in the slippery conditions, causing mayhem on the first lap. One of the victims was Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari, which had already sustained a significant amount of damage during the season.
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto was not happy having to pay for the damage done to one of his cars when a rival team was clearly at fault. He proposed that the team that caused the damage should end up paying for it out of their budget cap, which would make sense to many people.
However, there is a flaw to this concept. As with anything in the competitive world of Formula 1, this rule would become a focal point for arguments and debates among teams. It’s often difficult to determine who is at fault for a crash, and at the end of the day, each team will be able to argue why they are not at fault.
It’s understandable to see why Binotto was so unhappy about the damage done to his car. Leclerc racked up a total crash damage bill of $4 million, second only to Mick Schumacher in the entire 2021 season. However, the rule of paying for another team’s damages did not come into force.
Crash damage is included in the F1 budget cap, which is incredibly difficult for teams to manage. The teams are already struggling to stay under the budget cap with manufacturing and upgrades, but the one variable that’s difficult to account for is crash damage.
It might be easy for a team to control their costs throughout the entire season by using some careful planning. However, they need to leave some margin for error. The team could easily exceed their budget cap if their driver crashes during the final Grand Prix of the weekend, especially if they’re working with fine margins.
Many teams are not happy about crash damage being included in the budget cap. Oftentimes, it’s not the team’s fault, but it still must come out of their budget. This can be incredibly disappointing considering the money could have been used for an upgrade instead.
With the budget cap being strict as it is, it’s difficult for the teams to manage their finances towards the tail end of the season. Tracks such as Singapore and Spa are notorious for penalizing drivers who make the smallest of mistakes with huge amounts of crash damage.
F1 cars are insured, but only when they’re not racing. This might seem counterintuitive, but it makes sense. When the cars are out on track, there is a higher risk of them being damaged, which means that insuring them would be more expensive than simply paying for the damage done to the car.
However, the cars are insured when they are away from the track. When the cars are being transported from race to race, the teams have insurance for their cars because there are some things that are out of their control. Anything from theft to natural disasters can be covered by insurance.
The cars are much easier to insure away from the track because there is much less risk involved. The chances of these cars being damaged during transport or even stolen are extremely low. This is because the teams transport them in a highly secure manner.
The cost of the cars is another issue when it comes to insuring them while they are out on track. With a front wing costing north of $150,000 and being incredibly fragile, it’s easy to see why it would not be a smart move to insure an entire Formula 1 car for a Grand Prix.
F1 teams pay for their own crash damage. This rule has been frustrating for some teams because they often must pay for the damage done to their cars by another team. Teams are under a strict budget cap they can’t exceed, and crash damage can significantly eat into this budget.