Formula 1 teams will be forced to miss races this season unless the sport’s budget cap is raised, said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
The current budget limit is $140m (£111m).
“Seven of the teams would probably have to miss the last four races to hit the cap this year,” he said.
“It’s not just the big teams. It’s the midfield teams that are really struggling with inflation issues.”
Horner, whose Red Bull team run the drivers’ championship, through Max Verstappen, as well as the constructors’ championship, said F1 governing body the FIA ”must fix” the problem.
He added: “The FIA has a duty of care. I know they take it seriously.
“Energy bills, cost of living, costs are rising exponentially, and F1 is not exempt. Freight has quadrupled and it’s not something we can control.”
Horner’s position is backed by defending rivals Ferrari, world champions Mercedes and McLaren.
But the Alfa Romeo, Alpine, Haas and Williams teams all voted against an inflationary adjustment proposal based on International Monetary Fund inflation figures when it was proposed last month at an F1 Commission meeting. teams, the FIA and the F1 commercial rights holder.
Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer said: “We set our budgets early, we kind of anticipated inflation a bit. Inflation didn’t just creep up on us. If we can do it, it is certain that others can do it too.” I’m not for just raising the ceiling.
“When the transport cost increases by 2.5m or 3.5m but your development budget is 20m, can’t you increase your development budget to 17m and still be under the cap? You can.
“What that does then is it limits your development. So it’s a lot easier, if you have the money, to go to the FIA and lobby to raise the cap and maintain your development budget. at the same level.”
An Aston Martin spokesperson said: ‘We support an increase in the budget cap in line with inflation, but we see no need for an increase above that.
A spokesperson said the FIA was reviewing the matter on an ongoing basis.
Some teams are concerned that top teams will argue for an increased budget cap as a way to keep their spending levels high.
Some of the smaller teams have budgets below the cap, and they say increasing it would only increase inequality on the pitch – defeating the purpose of the rule changes introduced by the FIA and F1. .
Additionally, some sources say the bigger teams are trying to compound the effect of inflation next year, which could end up raising the cap to as high as $15 million.
The cap was introduced last year as one of many ways to try to level the playing field and reduce the gaps between teams. It started at $145m (£115m) in 2021 and is set to drop another $5m (£3.97m) in 2023.
However, the bigger teams are contrasting their flexible approach during the Covid crisis in 2020 with what they see as the intransigence of the smaller teams now.
Before the pandemic, the budget cap was set at $175m (£139m) in 2021. But the big teams have agreed to a cut of $30m (£23m) in the early months into the pandemic due to the threat Covid was perceived to pose to the survival of the sport.
Management teams point out that the cost of air freight has increased by 50% this year, and that the utilities needed to run their factories are up to three times higher than they used to be.
They say the situation is serious enough that they will have to choose between not attending the races or laying off hundreds of people in the industry if the cap is not increased.
They also argue that if the majority of the grid ends up exceeding the cap this year, the validity of the cap itself is in jeopardy.
Penalties for exceeding the cap are not precisely defined, but if the breach is serious, a team could even be disqualified from the championship.
A possible compromise is for teams to spend more than 5%, an amount that a mechanism in the rules dictates will be treated as a minor infraction.