Chase Carey, Bahrain International Circuit, 2018

Liberty propose 2021 F1 cost cap and prize money changes

2021 F1 season

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Liberty Media has proposed a budget cap among a raft of changes to be introduced to Formula One in 2021.

Teams were told at a meeting at the Bahrain International Circuit today of a series of proposals to change how income is distributed and costs are controlled within the sport.

Ross Brawn, Circuit of the Americas, 2017
The Brawn ultimatum? Why F1’s future hangs on Friday’s crunch meeting
Following the meeting the sport’s commercial rights holder issued a statement describing a series of “strategic initiatives”.

Although no specific details of its plans have been confirmed, RaceFans understands the cost cap is to be set at $150 million.

Revisions to the prize money structure will see Ferrari’s income reduced. They and the three other manufacturers will receive bonuses of $50m. The remaining prize money – around $800m – will then be split between the 10 teams.

RaceFans understands the planned changes to the sport’s governance structure will involve a return to the 2010-12 arrangement, under which new rules were proposed by technical and sporting working groups before being submitted to the F1 Commission for approval and then to the World Motor Sport Council for ratification. Reverting to the pre-2013 system would mean abolishing the Strategy Group.

Simplification of the Formula One engine regulations by removing the MGU-H, which was announced last year, is also expected to go ahead.

Formula One Management’s ‘strategic initiatives’ for 2021

Power units (PU)
• The PU must be cheaper, simpler, louder, have more power and reduce the necessity of grid penalties.
• It must remain road relevant, hybrid and allow manufacturers to build unique and original PU.
• New PU rules must be attractive for new entrants and Customer teams must have access to equivalent performance.

Costs
• We believe how you spend the money must be more decisive and important than how much money you spend.
• While there will be some standardised elements, car differentiation must remain a core value
• Implement a cost cap that maintains Formula 1 position as the pinnacle of motorsport with a state-of-the-art technology

How should Liberty shake up F1 in 2021? Drivers give their views
Revenues
• The new revenue distribution criteria must be more balanced, based on meritocracy of the current performance and reward success for the teams and the Commercial Rights Holder.
• F1’s unique, historical franchise and value must and will still be recognised.
• Revenue support to both cars and engine suppliers.

Sporting and technical rules and regulations
• We must make cars more raceable to increase overtaking opportunities.
• Engineering technology must remain a cornerstone but driver’s skill must be the predominant factor in the performance of the car.
• The cars must and will remain different from each other and maintain performance differentiators like aerodynamics, suspensions and PU performance. However, we believe areas not relevant to fans need to be standardised.

Governance
• A simple and streamline structure between the teams, the FIA and Formula 1.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 74 comments on “Liberty propose 2021 F1 cost cap and prize money changes”

    1. I am firmly against a budget cap, for the simple reasons that: this budget cap is below what 7 or 8 of the 10 teams currently spend: it is a third of what the top teams spend: and that means they will be culling jobs to an unprecedented degree, not to mention try various structures and tricks with legal entities to still employ people that don’t fall within the budget (Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault especially could easily do this). All other suggestions are good, I like the idea of simpler engines and equal distribution of the money, but not a budget cap.

      1. I’m pretty sure the 150 million will go up to 250 million, and that there will be some special rules for manufacturers who make engines. (fingers crossed) I don’t believe that LM expects Merc or Ferrari to fire half their staff.
        First round of negotiations: Lower the bar as much as possible :)

        1. Anyway, since drivers and top management aren’t included (According to the AMuS article, who seem quite well informed), that 150 million will indeed not be the full amount some teams spend on F1, especially with marketing excluded as well, but I think that, eventually, about 150 million just to get those cars around ~20 tracks a year at competitive speeds, isn’t so bad – that’s on average about 7.5 million per race, ie. less than 10 million. Peanuts indeed!

        2. I don’t think Liberty can concern themselves that the top teams, who have upwards of 1500 staff, must be allowed to maintain that level of employment. That is unsustainable in an F1 that needs to better balance the haves against the have nots. Should they propose all teams need to strive for at least 2000 employees? Does that sound like the path to a better F1 given the current environment?

          Perhaps, just like how often governments, especially ones running huge debt and deficit numbers, should be finding efficiencies not expanding their size, so should the bigger teams not necessarily fire people, but as they retire or move on, not replace them. That could be a start.

          It’s about compromises.

          1. Agreed on this. Large teams add a lot of value to the grid – until they leave or abuse their position.
            eg. Mercedes: At some point they will leave the sport, when the board decides they have achieved their marketing objectives. If the team has been allowed to grow to thousands of people, then all of them will suffer the loss of work.

            It also allows the team huge leverage over the sport, it’s rules and it’s direction, as they control the workload of a considerable part of the industry, in addition to providing engines to multiple teams on the grid.
            It is much healthier if the teams are held to a budget, preventing them from growing to huge sizes, whilst focusing on ideas and smart implementation of them, compared to the current “big budget = performance” situation.

            1. Joss (@racerjoss)
              until they leave or abuse their position. eg. Mercedes:
              And Ferrari have not abused their position when they have been the dominant team? Really? 5% cut of total income & veto powers over the sports rules.

            2. I’m not aware of a lot of sympathy for the Honda, Toyota or BMW F1 employees when they all bailed out 10 years ago. Merc, Ferrari and Renault could all absorb their F1 staff if they wanted – Daimler Benz employ 290,000 and Renault 127,000 so 1500 is no big deal.

      2. Budget cap and maybe some job cutting is better than higher ticket and tv access payments (which will collapse F1) or more teams folding (need examples?)

        But as mentioned by others, it will be broken by some. As long as they only hurt their own bottom line without ruining competition 100%.

        1. The cost cap will leave money available for a splinter series… something with high-rev’ing NA V8 or V10 engines. If they are actually able to enforce a cost cap, it will have unintended consequences.

      3. @hahostolze I for one am quite ok with the budget cap idea as the money spent rose so dramatically that it reached ridiculous amounts. And with a domino effect everything in F1 is absolutely expensive. I believe a cheaper sport may ultimately result in cheaper ticket prices or free-to-air to remain on TV, which would be a good thing.
        Problem is, I don’t see how it could be implemented (I’m no commercial engineer though).

      4. Simple economics

        You give more money to the lower teams. They have more money to spend. Then they will pick up staff from Mercedes/ Ferrari who have left due to the cost cap restrictions. This will even out the staff per team which in tern makes the sport more competitive.

        Equally by making the sport cheaper, you are likely to attract more manufacturers, look at Formula E relatively cheap and current technology and they are pulling in new car manufacturers by the week. By having new manufacturers come into the support probably taking over smaller teams, they will bring extra money into the smaller teams, which again allows smaller teams to expand and bring in new personal.

        Further to this if you make smaller teams more competitive they will be able to attract more sponsorship.

        All this means a more level planning field. You cant buy you way to the top. Great racing! and avoids the spec series we all dont want.

        The only team they will reject this is Ferrari! because they will lose money. But who cares! the whole sport cant revolve around them. I mean its not like they win every year anyway. Even Mercedes wont stick around paying the money they have for ever.

      5. But it was these manufacturers who decided to employ so many in the first place. If they get their own way, you can slowly say goodbye to the sport, because there’s no incentive for new teams to join or privateers to hang about if the manufacturers can spend limitless amounts of staff.

        It’s a necessary evil, I absolutely believe that.

    2. • The new revenue distribution criteria must be more balanced, based on meritocracy of the
      current performance and reward success for the teams and the Commercial Rights Holder.
      • F1s unique, historical franchise and value must and will still be recognised.

      You cant have both of those. Ferrari Bonus is more than budgets of lower half teams. They’ll never do better if these bonuses remain.

      1. Sure they can do better. They can recognize historical value with some bonus money, but just not as much as currently, as those teams can easily survive and thrive with a few 10’s of millions less, and they can otherwise distribute revenues in a more balanced way that gives the smaller teams more.

    3. Revenue support to both cars and engine suppliers.

      That sounds like a good idea. It will be interesting to hear more about this

      1. It does indeed. Hopefully it attracts enough engine manufacturers for more teams to be ‘factory’ teams – and hopefully the formula is simple enough as to not create huge disparities, like in the 2.4 V8 era.

        1. @hahostolze, the thing is, out of the seven engine manufacturers that began producing those V8 engines, three of them left entirely (BMW, Honda and Toyota) with the shutdown of their teams, whilst Cosworth could never produce a competitive design and was only able to return to F1 because the new teams were pretty much forced to use their engines (and, even then, Caterham dropped then as soon as they could).

          The only reason why the ones that were then left seemed to be reasonably similar is because the FIA forced the manufacturers to freeze development until the engines were similar, then locked in that performance – effectively turning the sport into even more of an aero dominated competition.

      2. I was going to post this. A great idea, especially if it means there’s a joint PU venture by some teams which could, on theory, mean they subsidise their “race team” winnings with “PU supplier” points reward.

    4. Vettel fan 17 (@)
      6th April 2018, 10:42

      F1’s unique, historical franchise and value must and will still be recognised.

      Does this mean the ‘historic’ teams still get bonus money?

      1. I think probably yes, but less of it. And Liberty can justify that not only because it is necessary to acknowledge the historic teams still, but also to find a better financial balance that considers the lesser teams, but also because if these teams are capped from spending so much, they won’t need so much.

        1. I’d like to know their definition of ‘historic’. If it is based on races started then the order is, Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, who are all a long way in front of Sauber and Renault and the rest.

      2. AMuS quotes a number of 50 million for Ferrari, and 10 mil. for every engine manufacturer, which – due the budget cap – won’t be directly usable to improve the car, but rather to offset F1 costs/profit from racing – which seems like a reasonable way to make that transition, as it seems hard to argue against for a listed company like Ferrari: less costs to go racing, some profit guaranteed, marketing excluded in the sum.

    5. I’m very happy with 100% of the propositions! A budget cap is the way to go even if it won’t be 100% enforced

    6. • Engineering technology must remain a cornerstone but driver’s skill must be the predominant factor in the performance of the car.
      • The cars must and will remain different from each other and maintain performance differentiators like aerodynamics, suspensions and PU performance. However, we believe areas not relevant to fans need to be standardised.

      A bit contradictory isn’t it? I mean I think everyone on the list can agree with the strategic objectives in the list, but that isn’t the problem. It’s incredibly difficult to execute this wish list if you ask me, especially considering it requires the teams to agree on everything.

      1. Sure it is extremely difficult. If it wasn’t, F1 wouldn’t have gotten to this point of needing these proposals. And that is what they are for now, general proposals. They know not everyone is going to agree with everything, but they have to strive for something. And at some point they will have to draw a line in the sand and say ‘this is the new F1’ for otherwise nothing will ever change if they wait for all teams to agree on everything, which is not expected to ever happen realistically. As Dieter has said in his article the other day, it is about compromises…from everyone.

    7. Cue empty threat from Ferrari to leave and form a competing series in 3 … 2 … 1.

    8. The PU must be cheaper, simpler, louder,

      My first reaction to that is, “How will the relevant (EU possibly) health and safety authorities” react to that knowing that for the last few years F1 has run quieter PU’s.

      1. @w-k Same as the volume at a rock concert: it’s none of the nanny state’s business! As a paying customer no one forces you to come and watch,again same as a rock concert or a trance rave. There’s no law against loud racing engines at a race anywhere in relevant countries provided the necessary warnings are provided to potential customers. At any ticket to F1 it’s written that: a)motorsport is dangerous and b)ear protection is recommended especially for children. That’s quite enough.

        1. I wasn’t thinking of us, I was thinking of the team members and those who work in the pit area.

        2. @montreal95, actually, yes, there are several countries where general restrictions on noise pollution would make those engines illegal. In the UK, circuits such as Brands Hatch are required by statutory legislation to place a hard cap on the maximum amount of noise that the engines can produce because of existing legal restrictions on noise pollution. Silverstone, similarly, is also subject to strict legal requirements on noise pollution.

          Equally, as @w-k notes, in jurisdictions such as the UK, because the noise levels of the current engines, let alone the older engines, causes permanent and irreversible hearing damage, that hearing protection is not just a recommendation, it is a compulsory requirement – if the organisers did not provide that, they would be committing a criminal offence.

    9. Is it my imagination, or does Chase Carey in this photo really look ten years older than he did before acquiring Formula 1?!

      1. It’s because so much contrast has been added to the photo in post production. @gpfacts

        1. @shimks I haven’t altered the colour balance at all.

          1. I thought it was Sam Elliot!

          2. No but I imagine the agency that supplied the photo has done. @keithcollantine

    10. How can you call a PU without MGU-H ‘road relevant’?
      Even simple road cars have stuff like e-turbos now, and this is the only way to prolong the life of the ICU.

      1. Name one road car that uses an MGU-H and doesn’t cost 3 million euros.

        1. Audi SQ7 was the first; various others coming out now (well before 2021).

    11. It must remain road relevant, hybrid

      Isn’t the Mercedes-AMG Project One based on current F1 technology?

      1. Yep, it is. And it feels like Mercedes went a long way to try and find a legitimate reason dubbing the MGU-H road relevant.
        (It’s kinda like NASA spending 100 million $ to build a car based on the space shuttle to prove the space shuttle is road relevant.)

        1. I imagine if the cap does come in (I hope it doesn’t) Mercedes and Ferrari will suddenly be spending a lot of money developing F1 relevant cars instead.

          1. No doubt with tyres that last a few dozen miles and engines that need replacing every full moon….

    12. Let the political posturing begin!

      1. That’s always been a given and a constant.

    13. Love the photograph of Kimi with the “I don’t care” comment – made my day.

      We will see who pushes back from the teams over the rest of the actual proposals. I do like the phrase “However, we believe areas not relevant to fans need to be standardised.”

    14. It looks like pointers of motivational speech. Nothing concrete at all.

      1. Thats why it’s called strategic initiatives. These need to be translated to concrete measures.

        1. As Dieter points out, Liberty/Brawn will be gauging the response to these proposals. Things are fluid for now even though at some point Liberty will have to declare concrete answers and directions.

          Liberty are not the enemy here. They have spelled out their ideas in general, and are happy to hear all constructive ideas that will help them get as close to their proposals as possible, which would make for a better series overall. They know it will be about compromise, knowing also exactly what each individual teams’ preferences would be if they had their way, and why. But they can’t all have their way like BE allowed them. Nor will they get it under Liberty. Doesn’t mean they can’t end up reasonably happy with the compromises if a better product on the track and a growing audience is the result. Simply the top teams will no longer be able to pull their own strings in F1 that ensure their own dominance. That’s not on, with Liberty.

        2. Its just too broad. It’s not even a wish list, it just a collection of slogan. Nothing to discuss.

          A good brainstorming pointers should already had aim, like:
          – PU will be 1500-1600cc 6 cylinder. Engine configuration not regulated;
          – Aerodynamics freedom except for spec front wing;
          – There will be 2-3 appointed MGUH supplier;
          – Some other thing that reflect their idea.

          They should do this in November. Not presenting nothing in April when the ideal time to start development deadline is on June. They just too afraid to do that.

          1. Strategies are supposed to be broad and abstract. What you’ve pointed out is tactical in nature. Liberty won’t propose something specific like that this early, especially without the consent of the top teams. The purpose of these “visions” is to bring everyone to the discussion table.

    15. It seems we have another kind of FISA-FOCA war on our hands.

      Mercedes and Ferrari definitely will not like the removal of the MGU-H, budget cap and the reduction in prize money.
      Besides, the removal of the Strategy Group will result in a loss of power for them.

      1. Of course they won’t like these changes, and for now they are proposals, but I doubt anything that is being floated is a surprise to them, and they inherently know that things cannot stay the same, and some compromise is going to be required. Liberty will simply insist on, at some point, a certain direction with certain changes that just needs be the way to proceed or there will be no F1 for much longer, unless we want to see a four team series and think that is sustainable. The strife the majority of the teams face cannot continue indefinitely.

    16. We don’t know yet how much detail was given behind closed doors, but as general guidelines for changes going forward, I think this proves what @dieterrencken was saying about compromise being a defining characteristic of what Liberty has to accomplish. Overall, I like what I’m reading about the main factors of performance they want to insist on and personally I’m all for a cost cap, in fact I don’t see how you can even dream of fielding a relatively competitive grid without one.

    17. I can agree with the PU needing to be cheaper, simpler, and reduce the necessity of grid penalties to any extent, but not with ‘louder, and have more power’ parts. The sound isn’t the most relevant thing in Motorsport, and the current PUs produce a good amount of BHP already, so no absolute need to increase that number.

      1. It’s all down to personal preference. I no longer get any excitement from hearing an F1 car whereas the hairs used to stand up on the back of my neck. It doesn’t really matter to me now because I’m already an F1 fan but I don’t think I’d have got into the sport if I was first exposed to today’s version.

    18. This seems like nothing more than a motivational speech designed to make everyone happy.
      We want cost caps while having cars with state of the art technology? Innovation costs a lot of money as there are usually far more failures than success, so innovation on a bargain budget is not likely to happen.
      We want to equitably share the money while giving Ferrari and engine makers more?
      The engines must be cheaper but remain road relevant and use hybrid technology? I think the road relevancy and hybrid technology development will determine the cost. I don’t think you can first say keep it cheap then say build me a technological marvel.
      I did find this statement interesting

      Revenue support to both cars and engine suppliers.

      as it hints at customer cars.

    19. So the Americanisation & dumbing down of F1 begins!

      Not a fan of more standard parts, Budget cap or removal of MGU-H (Most interesting part of engines with most development potential).

      F1 should be pinnacle of sport, It should NOT be equal & it should not be standardised!

      F1 should not become a bigger Indycar/F2+

    20. They should abolish completely the blue flag system and if the leading drivers cannot pass a backmarker to lap them then their team should pay money to the backmarkers team to let them pass. So the leading teams can do their race with minimal trouble and the backmarker teams gain financially, everyone wins!

    21. Every time somebody has wanted to introduce a cost cap in the past they have failed. I know the circumstances surrounding this are completely different, but I do hope they make a plan B available in case a cost cap doesn’t work out for whatever reason

    22. “We must make cars more raceable to increase overtaking opportunities.”
      It´s hard to understand what they mean by that. I hope they mean “able to follow other cars in front within short distance for a prolonged amount of time” and not a supersized drs…

    23. These plans are good but I don’t agree with budget cap. I think F1 doesn’t need budget cap because it is impossible to control/check their (teams) costs precisely they spend in F1 or in other areas.

    24. It’s amazing how fans buy into liberty’s garbage. They only care about filling their pockets I guarantee that if all this changes happen liberty will be pocketing more money than ever before and all teams will be getting less.

    25. There shouldn’t be any historical bonuses. Not because history isn’t important, but because some teams have changed ownership and lost their right to claim being a historical team, while others have retained their right to being a historical team. Besides, it is much easier to manage an equitable TV rights payout than it is to manage a cost cap. Also there needs to be an equitable TV time for each team.
      If engine manufacturer teams are going to get a special bonus then it should come with the expectation that money is directed towards the research and manufacture of engines so as to reduce the cost to customers. As I think about it, this might be a good thing because it might encourage customer teams to get their own engine supplier rather than being a customer team.

      1. Hmm… Force India should buy a naming right of old F1 team who now could still considered as historic…

    26. Power units (PU)
      • The PU must be cheaper, simpler, louder, have more power and reduce the necessity of grid penalties.
      • It must remain road relevant, hybrid and allow manufacturers to build unique and original PU.
      • New PU rules must be attractive for new entrants and Customer teams must have access to equivalent performance.

      A V10/V8 engine with the use of a more sophisticated MGU-K would perfectly meet the aforementioned objectives but the FIA is firmly against those engines.

      Costs
      • We believe how you spend the money must be more decisive and important than how much money you spend.
      • While there will be some standardised elements, car differentiation must remain a core value
      • Implement a cost cap that maintains Formula 1 position as the pinnacle of motorsport with a state-of-the-art technology

      I’m not against the concept which is beautiful BTW, but it’s not feasible. How to force a budget cup to a team like Ferrari that its president Marchionne is running the whole FCA group (Fiat,Lancia,Alfa Romeo,Manetti Marelli,Iveco,Abarth,Jeep,Dodge,Ram,Chrysler,Maserati….). They will end up outsourcing all the R&D and production to the other entities and will only keep the operations. They will still however get all the components for free. The gap then with the small teams will be even bigger.

    27. Because they didn’t say anything specifically, that indicates that

      A) they don’t intend to stick to what they’re saying and
      B) they don’t really know what they want to do.

      The real problem here is, like before, nothing is actually set in stone and will wallow around like Jello when situations arise that need decisions to be made. Corporate bureaucracy has killed F1.

    28. Because they didn’t say anything specifically, that indicates that

      A) they don’t intend to stick to what they’re saying and
      B) they don’t really know what they want to do.

      The real problem here is, like before, nothing is actually set in stone and will wallow around like Jello when situations arise that need decisions to be made. Corporate bureaucracy has killed F1.

    29. So in the form of a budget cap, does the engine development of the engine come from the Ferrari and Mercedes budget, while the customer teams have no such cost but the purchase prize of the engine? Or will Mercedes give themselves the engines for “free” and charge the customer teams in essence lowering their budget more compared to the factory team?

    30. I don’t like the idea of more standardization, I don’t like the idea of ditching the MGU-H (If thats what they do) & I am not totally fond on the idea of a cost cap.

      With regards to standardizing things ‘you can’t see’, Where does that stop? Just because we can’t see something like a gearbox, A Hybrid battery, Elements of the suspension or whatever doesn’t mean it should be made spec.

      The MGU-H is an element of the engines that is most interesting & I gather has a lot of development potential & a lot of performance gain can be found through that. Yes it’s complex but for me it is a prime example of what F1 should be doing & a prime example of one of the aspects of F1 I actually really love.

      The cost cap, I just don’t see how that is enforceable & can see it opening a huge can of worms with inevitable controversy & accusations of cheating which is going to be nothing but a negative for the sport.

      I want to see more detail before passing final judgement, But right now i’m not that impressed.

    31. 1) If they want road relevant make them use production engines.
      2) If “road relevant” and “hybrid” really was “manufacturer friendly” then… where are all the manufacturers?

      F1 has lived in a mythic-alternate reality created by Bernie that got it to “here”. It was based on maintaining a key marque (Ferrari) and a secondary “rival” (Mercedes in recent time), plus also-rans for “the show”. Bernie didn’t want to upset that apple cart, it made a lot of money.

      The rules were written bureaucratically to obfuscate that reality, and it “allowed” it to work until now. They can no longer publicly keep this charade going of “gotta being hybrid”, “gotta be power restricted”, “gotta be fuel limited, flow limited”, “gotta being hyper-expensive aero”, on an on. People are starting to see through this veil.

      Reality is F1 racing, and other big series are a balancing act of investor worry about the series collapsing without players, and F1’s house of cards in that respect is teeter-tottering. Simultaneously Too Big to Fail and Too Big To Let Run Honestly.

      They could very easily make the rules create a diminishing returns situation where you could throw as much money as you want at it without getting an unfair advantage, while at the same time leaving plenty room for innovation and… road car relevance. It’s very simple to do, and they won’t do it.

      But I could be wrong, after all Mercedes engineers apparently honestly thought putting a trumpet on the exhaust would magically make louder sound without more energy – maybe they’re all just dumb in F1?

      1. @chipmcdonald, so you claim that “They could very easily make the rules create a diminishing returns situation where you could throw as much money as you want at it without getting an unfair advantage, while at the same time leaving plenty room for innovation and… road car relevance. It’s very simple to do, and they won’t do it.”

        I note that, whilst making such a bold statement, you apparently see it as being so obvious that you fail to explain in any way how you would actually achieve such a state. Care to suggest how you might miraculously create such a situation? Or is it a lot easier to make such a bold claim rather than actually live up to it?

    32. I’ll not comment on the financial side of things given that Bernie’s poison pill makes it impossible for the revenue to be equitably distributed for the good of the series. Otherwise, minor points aside (no MGUH, louder) I would like to congratulate Ross and the team for their vision, I particularly like the promotion of design variety.

    33. I’m completely underwhelmed

      Perhaps it’s the fact that there’s so little detail in what they have shared with us, but to me, it’s just a bunch of motherhood phrases typical of a company that really hasn’t go a clear strategy or clear idea of what it wants to be.

      I’m hoping that they’ve provided more detail to “potential” PU manufacturers – If I was running one of those companies and got fed that crap, i’d be shutting down any thought of entering F1 because by now, I’d want a very clear idea of what I’d need to be supplying in 2021.

      Hopefully more detail will emerge but after 12 months, just seeing a rehash of what we already know was pretty underwhelming.

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