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Ferrari wants Schumacher in third car in 2010
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Ferrari wants Schumacher in third car in 2010
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Aug 2009   |  8:37 am GMT  |  41 comments

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali says in today’s Times that the team would like to run a third car next season for seven times world champion Michael Schumacher, provided he is able to fully recover from his neck injury.
Picture 24

“Going back to Michael, it is correct to say that, if everything is fine, why not see him in one of our cars?” said Domenicali. “It is true that we are pushing [for three cars]. We feel that it is for the benefit of Formula One and it is better to make sure that the biggest teams have three cars because that’s what people want. With all respect to the smaller teams, the value of Formula One is to have good drivers, great personalities in good cars and with a great brand.”

Schumacher is still training hard and is said to be very keen to race again, especially when he registered just how disappointed he was that he couldn’t come back this season to fill in for Felipe Massa.

The idea of third cars is not new, it has long been a backup plan in the Concorde Agreement if the number of cars goes below a certain level (I believe it’s 18).

On the face of it F1 doesn’t need third cars – it is going to have 13 teams next year, if all three of the new teams make it and all the existing ones stay.

There does seem to be some doubt about that, however. Toyota has yet to agree a budget for 2010 and that has got everyone there feeling edgy, while there are constant rumours about the financial strength of the three new teams.

Although some countries appear to be coming out of recession the car industry is still really struggling and many of the cars being sold are those with low profit margins, like Toyota Yaris, rather than the Lexus of this world.

The third car suggestion seems to be gaining ground within FOTA and a meeting of FOTA principals is due to take place at Monza specifically to discuss the third car option.

The feeling within FOTA is that it would greatly strengthen the show if there were three Ferraris, three McLarens and so on. Especially if the third driver was someone of Schumacher’s calibre. From Ferrari’s point of view they have three drivers for two seats next year anyway; Raikkonen, Massa and Alonso.

The tricky bit is how the third car fits into the results and points. It would make it virtually impossible for Force India or Toro Rosso ever to score a point, so the third car would have to be non-points scoring. But if that is the case, then the third driver has nothing to lose in a racing situation; what happens is the third car collides with a championship contender from another team?

These are the details which need to be discussed in Monza.

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41 Comments
  1. Lee Gilbert says:

    Hmmmm – Ferrari desperate for positive PR me thinks

    Lets keep the Schmacher story alive for as long as possible to keep the pressure off!!!

    Three cars per team will never happen

    Not least because of the “tricky” parts you mention James but also because the Concorde agreement whilst allowing scope for 3 cars if there were less than so may teams (a drop to 8 teams would trigger the possibility) does not permit 3 cars per team.

    How could you run a 3 car team in a budget capped environment anyway???

    Stefano Domenicali needs to stop the PR Spin and fix the car and sort his 2010 driver line up – not distract us with impossibilities

    1. Rich C says:

      Exactly correct.
      Its just Ferrari trying to figure out how to win with money instead of a superior car & driver combo.

  2. hunnylander says:

    Very bad idea! 2 or 3 cars for every team, equality, no exceptions!

  3. Simon Pearce says:

    Although I kind of like the idea of three cars (plus McLaren can have Kimi AND keep Heikki) I just can’t see it happening with all the budget concerns at the moment.

    How can F1 say they’re looking at keeping costs down and then bring in another car?!

  4. Mike says:

    INT. FERRARI F1 OFFICE

    BOSS: So, how many cars do we have for 2010?

    PA: Two, sir.

    BOSS: Excellent. How many drivers do we need?

    PA: Er, two, sir.

    BOSS: Excellent. But what if we had three?

    PA: Why would we sign three drivers for two cars?

    BOSS: Exactly! But what if we’d done precisely that?

    PA: Er…

    BOSS: Obviously three drivers is the wrong number, so let’s try four!

    PA: Maybe two?

    BOSS: Nonsense! Now, let’s get planning. We can squeeze Massa into Alonso’s cockpit, they’re both quite diminutive so there’s no problem there. Massa can kind of lay on his knee and they can each have a hand on the wheel!

    PA: Right…

    BOSS: And then Kimi can have Michael with him in his cockpit! Yes! Kimi will love that idea!

    PA: He certainly will. If there’s one thing Kimi likes… Hmm, or we could just ask the FIA to change the rules to let us have three or four cars?

    BOSS: Yes. Oh, and what about that Lewis guy? Give him a call, see what he’s doing next year? And the Polish chap. Oh, and Badoer really really wants a drive, and I hate to see a man cry, so let’s have him too. Oh, and what about -

    (TRUNCATED FOR MANY REASONS)

  5. Amritraj says:

    Why would Ferrari push for a Schumacher comeback in a 3rd car when they already supposedly have Alonso to join them next year ? All these talks point towards the fact that Alonso actually may not have a contract with Ferrari. Putting Alonso and Schumacher doesn’t make sense for Ferrari. Schumacher will not play a supporting role, and everyone saw what happens when Alonso feels he is not getting the treatment he deserves. Plus, they have Raikkonen and Massa. 4 drivers of such calibre at the disposal of 1 team is unrealistic, even if we are taking about Ferrari. If Schumacher plans to return, then we can forget Alonso joining Ferrari. If Ferrari have other motives behind these talks (of fielding a 3rd car),then we need to figure out what they are trying to really achieve here.

    James, one question here ? How strong is Renault’s technical team to deliver a strong car next year? They haven’t been quick this year, but do you think Alonso might stay with them for another year, given the fact that they have now (in August) focussed most of their resources on next year’s car(in contrast to what we saw them do last year)?

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s a strong team, they developed the car well last year, this year they started off the pace and now have given up on development so it’s been a lots season for them

      1. Harry says:

        James, What was wrong with Massa and Raikkonen??? Raikkonen won the championship in 2007 and Massa should have won in 2008 had it not been for Ferrari’s mistakes. Everyone knows that in Businesses and sport you never change a winning team, so why are they trying to change it??

  6. dk says:

    Hi James, here is my own, very simple solution to improve the show. Each team would have 3 drivers and 2 cars. The season would have 18 races + an extra one (more about it in a mo). Each of the 3 drivers would take part in only 12 races randomly picked at the beginning of the season (therefore teams could not favor any of its 3 drivers as they would each have a chance to score point in 4 races where one of their other 2 team mate is not taking part). One of the 3 drivers would have to a young driver either totally new to F1 or with limited experience (1 or 2 years max) so he could gain some on his first years.

    With say 13 teams we would have 39 drivers taking part to the season. After the last of the 18 races the first 26 guys
    would take part to a final race with the guy with the greater score world champion. The scoring system would remain as it is now (10, 8, 6, etc…) .

    Another version (version 2) of my system would be:
    1) 18 races as per version 1
    2) 6 extra races (aka “the chase” as per Nascar) with only the
    first 26 guys in the points after race 18 taking part to races 17 to 24.

    In both versions of my new rules the number of cars and mechanics would remain as it is now so not additional cost would be required (excepting the third driver salary).

    With version 2 we would also have the added bonus of having races every other week-end of the year and see cars racing on all most famous tracks around the world (be they old traditional ones or brand new ones).

    Testing would only take part on race week-ends with all 3 drivers allowed to test during free practice so that the third driver’s input would benefit his two team mates in terms of setup even if he is not racing himself that week-end.

    My 2 solutions are simple, would work and improve the show greatly.

    Because each of the 3 team drivers would only face each of their 2 team mates for selected races as opposed to all races my system would introduce an extra element of luck making the show more impredictable.

    Say if you had Alonso, Massa and Schumi at Ferrari, Alonso and Massa would need to score big points in races in which Schumi is not taking part and vice-versa. Only the 2 highest point scorers would take part to the end of season final show.

    Let me know what do you think of these ideas, ta!

    Daniel

    1. James Allen says:

      Some interesting ideas there, but I like simplicity. It’s really important not to confuse the public

    2. artorwar says:

      Man, you could get a job at the FIA with no problems at all haha, thats complicated enough to get you the presidency! Some sweet ideas but I think its more suited to a cheaper Formula Renault type setup, still, good thinking though

  7. Ani says:

    the third car would be contending for driver’s championship – no reason to crash

  8. Sam98 says:

    This is bizarre…. this year they can’t find enough drivers to fill two cars. Next year they already have three drivers to fill two cars and now they talk of having four drivers to fill three.

    Maths (and management) seems to be lacking at Ferrari of late.

  9. Ray.C. says:

    As much as I’d like to see 3 Ferrari’s on the podium( most of the time). Who wants to see 2 or 3 teams shut everyone else out.
    It has to be all or nothing.

  10. Dave says:

    Of course Ferrari want three cars: they’ve backed themselves into a corner by having three drivers under contract for 2010 – if the persistent and credible rumours are to be believed – and Schuey on the sidelines itching to get back into a racing car.

    No other team will agree to this so long as Schumacher is a possibility – they won’t want to see Ferrari so dominant.

    The only logical option for Ferrari is to buy or start a “B” team in the Toro Rosso mould, to run their spare drivers and to provide a much-needed driver development programme.

  11. Attila says:

    James, what’s your opinion about have a third car for top teams in 2010? And which teams? Who will decide it?

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m looking into it for a more in depth post after the race weekend

    2. Pay The Piper says:

      If they were smart, they’d introduce a market for third-car rights.

      Don’t let the big teams run an ‘extra’ car, let the smaller teams sell one of their spots on the grid, establish exactly how much an extra car is worth, both to a loadsamoney big team, and to a hand-to-mouth small team.

      If the money they can raise by selling the grid spot is significantly greater than the net benefit a small team would receive from building a second car, spares, crew, quasi pay-driver, then everyone’s happy.

      Turn what is currently a significant cost-centre for a small or fledgeling teams resources into a guaranteed ‘nice little earner’. If Ferrari or McLaren want a third car, we can let them pay a proper market rate for the privilege.

  12. MattB says:

    The only way would be to extend the points range (with half points maybe?! yuk!) and perhaps give constructors running 3 2/3 of the total points scored at each race. Complicated, needless and silly… but if it would bring Michael back i could cope ;-)

  13. dk says:

    Correction and addition to my previous post:
    I should have written “as they would each have a chance to score point in 6 races where one of their other 2 team mate is not taking part”.

    Obviously with my rule that one of the 3 drivers must be a young guy my example of Ferrari teaming Massa, Alonso and
    and Schumi was wrong. Say I should have picked (purely as an example) Massa, Alonso and Bianchi.

    The random selection (lottery) of the 12 races in which each driver would take part in phase one of the season would be a televised show in its own right.

    Each drivers would have is own group of engineers and mechanics also taking part to only 12 races during phase one the season so each of these guys would have a real chance to have a proper rest some week-ends and see his family.

    With version 2 of my rules, aka “the chase” concept we could consider two options for that phase:
    1) Drivers still adding points to their tally of phase one the season (highest scorer at the end is World Champion) or
    2) scoring totally reset to zero for the chase as in Nascar with highest scorer of the chase world Champ.

    Obviously in version 1 and 2 of my new rules if among the first 26 drivers at the end of the first 18 races we have 3 drivers from a same team all of them would take part to the extra race (DK rules v1) or 6 races (DK rules v2).

  14. Martin Kay says:

    The new teams might not only have problems scoring points, they might not even qualify for the race, if they are still only allowing 26 starters. Can’t see it working to be honest, if I was in Manor, Campos or USF1 I’d be a bit peeved, having been wooed into joining the sport, to suddenly have a bunch of third cars from established teams muscling on to the grid and depriving my sponsors of their TV coverage. Maybe they are thinking of 32 car grids? Although I seem to remember even back in the days when we did have larger grids, places like Monaco were still restricted to 22 or 24 for safety reasons.

  15. Aaron James says:

    James-

    Couldnt they do what they do in BTCC for constructors and nominate 2 drivers to score constructors?

    Also, extend the points to the top 10 to compensate.

    Maybe

    12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1?

    1. artorwar says:

      And look how well the BTCC works at the moment…..

      1. James says:

        I like the idea of this…

        Perhaps to simplify, the top two performers of the team in question becomes the points-earners for the constructors championship. Importantly, if the 3rd car is eligable for the driving championship, then the need for a good result remains.

        as for the issue of difficulty in points ascertation for the lower teams, we can see from a weekend such as this that F1 is unpredictable. If the budget cap is persued, the standards of a 3-car team may slip a little…

  16. jw1980 says:

    There are a lot of good points and bad to the third car suggestion.
    With regards to Ferrari is bringing Schumacher back just a cover because they have Alonso, Raikkonen and Massa in their team for next year? It’s difficult to believe Schumacher will ever be fit enough to race again.It sounds like it’s a bit of a mess with Raikkonen appearing to dig his heels in. When Ferrari say they want the best runners in top cars why did they chose Badoer to replace Massa?
    A way around the problem of points scoring is to have the top 10 finishers rewarded (am I right in saying that the top 15 score in Moto GP and they have smaller grids)? You cannot have drivers not scoring points as this could cause all sorts of problems as you highlighted.
    Ultimately the biggest issue is that the bigger teams will get bigger, the smaller teams will struggle further to survive so that in five years time three car teams become four car teams until F1 becomes DTMised and has just Ferrari and McLaren. Alonso will lead Ferrari and Hamilton will be McLaren’s top driver. All other drivers will be contracted to follow their lead.
    Keep it as it is.

    1. Rich C says:

      They *owed Badoer the drive! He should have had it automatically as their test driver and it was extremely not-nice to deny it to him in the first place!

      1. john g says:

        looks like they were correct to try all they could not to run badoer tho, he’s crap

    2. Martin Collyer says:

      “am I right in saying that the top 15 score in Moto GP and they have smaller grids?”

      Correct on both points.

  17. Jon W says:

    Why on earth do we need Ferrari or anyone else to run a third car when next season there will be up to 26 cars on the grid anyway? Even if BMW aren’t taken over and the Toyota rumours are true and they go too, there will still be 2 more cars than we have had for the last few seasons.
    So I can see no good reason, and it brings all the drawbacks you mention James, I hope it doesn’t happen.

    Anyway, haven’t Ferrari got enough trouble deciding what to do with Kimi, Massa and Alonso without adding Schumacher into the equation?

  18. C.M. says:

    I have thought from the start that this 3 cars idea from Ferrari has all to do with Ferrari not wanting to give Kimi to some of her opponents. I think this Schumi talk is only PR talk, he’s not coming back.
    I don’t support 3 cars per team idea. It’s way too many cars on track. Only if some weaker teams can’t handle anymore. Better have no team than some team with 3-4 seconds off the pace. I would make a rule that 3rd car is only for drivers maximum some 22 years old. To have youngsters a chance.

  19. Ron says:

    Who on earth are these people who apparently want the top teams to have three cars?
    It a complete nonsense. You can’t have a third car contributing to the constructors’ championship and equally you can’t have car on track which is not scoring any points as it will influence the outcome of the race for the other cars who are scoring.
    There’s no way to set it up which is fair to everybody else.
    Either everybody runs three cars or nobody does.

  20. the decider says:

    ferrari is run by a bunch of clowns, seriously.

  21. Louis says:

    Somehow F1 is fitting the “circus” label, so someone someday says “oh we should run 3 cars”, and the bloody FOTA is going to discuss about it? F*** off, what other spontaneous ideas should they have? Maybe the drivers to wear clown costumes? Hey, it will attract young new viewers won’t it, go and f’ing discuss about that!

  22. Sledge says:

    Ferrari 1 2 3 in Monza 2010 :P

  23. Leddy says:

    When Red Bull wanted to run 2 main drivers and 2 development drivers, they bought Minardi and called it Torro Rosso. Now Ferrari want to run more than 2 drivers, they are trying to get the rules changed to let them.

    If they are that serious about the merits of running extra drivers, then they can buy the BMWSauber team, or if Toyota leave at the end of the season propose an entry for a 2nd team.

    While we still have a healthy amount and mix of teams prepared to compete, I see no reason to give the “haves” any further advantage over the “Have Nots”.

  24. Crom says:

    The 3rd car seems more an opportunity to spice up Formula 1 by inviting stars to participate in a few races – “guest appearances” -

    Who would not want to see the likes of Schumacher, Rossi, Loeb in a 3rd Ferrari, just for a few races each?

    And a 3rd car would also make sense to help “train up” young drivers of the future.

    It would certainly boost Formula 1 as a spectacle.

  25. Red Kimi says:

    Ferrari must really hate Kimi to wan tot pay him off to go away and to want to add MS to a third car at age 41 next year….

  26. DavidT says:

    More Ferrari nonsense. They are becoming more like a sideshow to distract fans from what is actually happening on the track.

    Why not have one car, and three drivers. They can swop over at pit stops and all have a go.

  27. Werewolf says:

    Any serious consideration of a third car rule needs to be separated from the Schumacher issue, as much as it would be great to see him back.

    In the 1950s, when fewer constructors ran more cars, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes and Cooper at different times regularly locked out the top positions. More recently, say from the mid-1980s, McLaren, Williams, Benetton/Renault and Ferrari have won and often dominated or fought only a single realistic opponent for titles. That domination would undoubtedly have been even greater with a third car each taking both points and probably several of the remaining race wins from the other teams.

    As good as it used to be to see occasional guest drivers in third cars (eg, Gilles Villeneuve’s debut in a McLaren at Silverstone; Philippe Streiff in a Renault was the last one I recall but someone can correct me), those days are gone. I guess there maybe room for a watered down proposal, say a third car at no more than 2 or 3 races, but on balance and while there is a healthy grid, I see the cons (as pointed out by so many above) outweighing any real benefits.

  28. CTM says:

    I don’t think this has anything to do with Schumacher, thats a smokescreen, if Kimi won’t accept anything other than a full pay off of his contract, and there’s some talk even that would not be enough, then the only way to run Massa, Kimi and Alonso together in 2010 is in a third car.

  29. AR says:

    I belive that the correct solution for the drivers situation is that Ferrari creates a paralel Scuderia with support for young drivers so they have it at hand in a time when guys with 18,19 and 20 years are taking over F1.
    Scuderia Ferrari could do the same as Red Bull and Toro Rosso in order that they arent the same team but are related each other.

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