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Controversial new group meets to steer F1 future; small teams feel excluded
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Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Oct 2013   |  8:12 am GMT  |  222 comments

On Monday the F1 Strategy Group will meet for the first time and a new era of F1 rule making will begin, which excludes small and medium sized teams. They fear it could lead ultimately to the sport polarising into a few top “works” teams with the rest running customer cars.

The F1 Strategy Group is a new body which has been born out of the bilateral agreement between the FIA and the commercial rights holders CVC and Bernie Ecclestone, signed last month.

Where previously, the teams would all meet to have an input into new ideas and directions for the sport, now it will be a group of just six teams; Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Williams and a floating member, which is currently Lotus due to championship position.

This cuts the small and medium sized teams out of the equation. The only say they have is when the findings and decisions of the F1 Strategy Group are passed to the F1 commission for ratification. But as the F1 commission is a large group that also contains suppliers and promoters, the voice of the small and medium sized teams is very much diluted.

The F1 Strategy Group is composed of three equal thirds: FIA has six votes, although it will be represented at meetings by only one person, the same carries for the commercial rights holder, while the six teams have one vote each.

Had the F1 Strategy Group been in place over the last ten years, so example, major rule changes like the introduction of V6 turbo engines and DRS would have been passed by the group, with no input from smaller teams.

The fear among “the excluded” is that this group’s ultimate intention is to divide the competitors into “works” teams and customer teams.

Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo has long argued that a strong F1 would have such a structure whereby teams like Force India would buy their cars from McLaren, Sauber and Marussia would buy Ferraris, Toro Rosso or Caterham would buy Red Bulls and so on. And they would use the partner team’s wind tunnel and simulator facilities, doing away with the expense of having their own. Currently there is some technology flowdown: Caterham buys its gearbox from Red Bull, Force India has Mercedes engines married to a McLaren gearbox, for example.

This would give the top teams valuable additional return on investment, would close up the competition and many feel it would raise the standard and would make the smaller teams more sustainable; it would mean teams like Marussia could focus on going racing without the stress and expense of tooling up with the huge staff numbers and the latest equipment needed to design and build a car. But critics argue that it would weaken the diversity of the sport and would leave the smaller teams dependent on the “works” teams.

One significant step on the road to that future was taken when the list of prescribed parts – parts which constitute an F1 car’s Intellectual Property – moved from the Concorde Agreement into the FIA Sporting Regulations. This was significant because you cannot change things in the Concorde Agreement without unanimous approval, whereas items in the Sporting Regulations can be changed more easily. So that list could grow or shrink depending on the political and commercial agenda of the powerbrokers.


Force India’s Bob Fernley (second from right above) has come out very strongly this weekend against the new body, calling into question its legality and asking how this can been seen as fair and equitable. Since the FIA became recognised by the International Olympic Committee, doubts have been raised over the compatability of certain aspects of the way the sport is run compared to the Olympic charter.

“All teams basically pay the same amount to go racing,” he told the Telegraph. “The only differentials are in drivers’ salaries and hospitality. And yet some teams have no say in how the sport is run. It could certainly be deemed abuse of a dominant position.”

“Some of the teams (on the F1 Strategy Group) have grave reservations about the legality of it. There is genuine concern among some of the teams on the Strategy Group, particularly the ones who are public companies. This is not ethical governance.”

Williams has always been implacably opposed to customer cars as they would be the “squeezed middle” – a proud team determined to build its own car that would struggle to beat a Ferrari run by Marussia or a Red Bull run by Caterham. So they will oppose customer cars, but could be a lone voice in the Strategy Group. McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh would be in a very tough spot; as someone who has worked very hard for the F1 Teams Association he would feel obliged to represent the smaller teams. But for McLaren there are millions to be made from selling technology.

Toro Rosso is an interesting case study: in 2008 it had a car from Adrian Newey’s drawing board before the rules on IP exchange were tightened up and Sebastian Vettel won the Italian Grand Prix with it that year from pole. Now Abu Dhabi investment business Aabar has an interest in the team and the paddock view is that at some point soon they will take the team over from Dietrich Mateschitz.

It would be very attractive for the new owners to get a customer Red Bull each year, to avoid the expense and staffing needed to build its own car and the team would be very competitive.

Currently F1 has no Concorde Agreement, the labour agreement which has bound in the governing body, the commercial rights holder and the teams. Ecclestone has said all along that he does not feel F1 needs a Concorde Agreement. And as he now has bilateral agreements with the FIA and with all but one of the teams (Marussia still being the exception) he can argue that from a commercial and governance point of view there is no need for a Concorde Agreement.

What do you think? Does the F1 Strategy Group sound like a good idea to you? Would you like to see customer cars in F1? Leave your comments below

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222 Comments
  1. Alex says:

    In my humble opinion, customer cars is not a good idea. You want to run an F1 team? Build your own car, otherwise it’s all for naught. You can’t be proud of what you’ve done with a customer car. There’s a difference between “Yes! We got a podium with this car we’ve been making so long and hard!” and “Yea, what a good result, thanks to Red Bull for their efforts to provide us their technology, ehm…”
    That’s what I think. F1 is a championship of constructors.

    1. Rayz says:

      I agree but its not that simple. At the rate F1 is going, the costs are going to drive teams to the brink, in particular the teams lower down the grid. To the point that without customer cars, we may well have only 6 or 7 teams in a few years. Caterham, Marussia, Sauber re all struggling. We are constantly hearing about Lotus’ financial complications and if Maldonado leaves F1, whatever team he leaves, Williams as it is now, would have a 35 million pound hole in their budget.

      Its very complicated and having the top teams only with a voice is only going to make things worse.

      1. TimW says:

        I see your point about controlling costs, but people have been predicting that we will be down to 6 or 7 teams for the past 30 years, and it hasn’t happened yet. It’s always been tough for the little guys, but they are always there.

      2. Tim says:

        @Rayz
        having the top teams only with a voice is only going to make things worse….

        I doubt, in reality, that much has changed. There has always been behind the scenes politicking, from the heavyweights, to influence the decision makers. In some ways that is now possibly a little fairer as teams such as Ferrari and Red Bull now only have a single vote – this of course assumes the behind the scenes stuff stops! Oh, then I woke up :-)

      3. Rafael says:

        Off topic solution, but… you want to cut costs? Then trim down the no. of races, since the length of the calendar alone is a major driver of the teams’ (exponentially) ballooning budgets, considering, in such circumstances, they are compelled to double their staff (e.g. am/pm shift for wind tunnel operations, etc.) to keep up/crank up the pace of development – and for much longer too. Not to mention, the cost of airfare, logistics, accommodation and promos, to name a few, that goes along with all that traveling from one grand prix to another.

        As for customer cars: cute idea, but no. If they want, why not have the bigger teams send in “consultants” to aid the smaller ones in “designing” their cars. i.e. RBR and Toro-Rosso once said they both “enlisted the services of an outside (Red-Bull owned) firm” to design their cars, hence the reason their respective cars looked incredibly alike for a couple of seasons. Similarly, Sauber’s 2004 car looked a lot like Ferrari’s 2003 challenger, thanks to some other contractual benefits that came with being the Scuderia’s customer team. Under that set-up, I’m okay. But simply buying and racing a 2nd hand/B-Spec Ferrari/McLaren/Red Bull? No way!

      4. Tim says:

        The teams and F1 earn money from the races. That’s why the race calendar gets ever longer :-)

      5. Rayz says:

        It’s actually cheaper for them to do more races I believe. The more races they do, the more money the teams get from Bernie. The balancing act is to get the maximum number of races while having only one set of crew. For example, many of the teams believe that with the re-introduction of in season testing for next season, coupled with the increased number of races, they may have to employ new staff to act as a separate test team. This is essentially a rotation crew which adds cost significantly.
        But ultimately, the big cost increase for 2014 is the new power packs. I acknowledge that F1 needs to be at the forefront of technology and innovation, but these new engines are so expensive to develop and thus are costing the non-works teams a fortune to buy. That is the big killer for them. F1 should have left these new regulations for another year or two until the economic situation stabilizes somewhat.

        However, that’s all what ifs at this stage. I fear it may be the end for a couple of teams. I’m expecting 9 teams for 2015 personally.

    2. W Johnson says:

      For me the key attraction of F1 is that all teams are unique, not mini me Ferrari’s or mini me Mercs. That would be quite bland.

      1. N Steele says:

        I agree with Johnson and Alex, The best part of F1 is the challenge to pair the best car with the best driver to win the championship. YES Redbull has consecutively done this 4 years in a row but if you keep losing and losing and losing do you say hey this isn’t fair? or do you work harder to win?

      2. Blade Runner says:

        From the way I read James’ article above, the teams which buy customer cars would be free to develop them over the season.

        Yes the customer cars would be chassis wise identical to the works teams but as we always see, over the year it is developments that keep cars in the lead.

        For casual fans I doubt they would even notice the difference, when the individual teams pain jobs are applied.

        In all walks of life and business things have to evolve and change to survive/ be successful.

        Customer cars would just be F1 doing that and it would make the racing a lot closer and who would not want that?

      3. Blade Runner says:

        Should read:-

        “individual paint jobs are applied.”

      4. Valois says:

        Agreed. In the seventies we had customer teams, that certainly did not ruin the sport!

      5. Grant H says:

        Agreed, surely you will just end up with 3 or 4 works teams always chasing the title and the rest all fighting for the middle ground, the top teams will never sell a customer car as good as their own

        I know that is not different to how it is today in terms of the 4 big teams being competitive, but look at red bull not so long ago they were a poor jaguar team, would cust cars basically not mean the end of poorer teams any chance of fighting for a champ

    3. MattG says:

      While NASCAR may not be the area ppl want to go, it appears to be a bit more sustainable. You really have 4 or so teams that supply a lot to the other teams.

    4. GPC says:

      Agree, cannot see how any customer car team will ever have a realistic chance in a championship. The odd win, yes. But not winning any championship.

  2. ayrton1 says:

    James – do you see some of smaller teams leaving the sport in the short term?

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s all about money. If they have it no. If they don’t yes

      1. JCA says:

        James, can you see a team like Marussia going to the EU commission if they don’t get an offer from Bernie, or some of the smaller teams to challenge this groups legality? Might this also have something to do with the plan to move the FIA from France (EU) to Switzerland?

      2. James Allen says:

        Yes and the IOC. But they seem to keep holding off

      3. I know says:

        I don’t think the IOC has any jurisdiction, since FIA is only a “recognised” sporting body. They may go to CAS, although I think the threat of an EU antitrust suit would be much greater. See: http://curia.europa.eu/juris/liste.jsf?language=en&num=C-49/07

  3. Olli says:

    Typical Bernie style Divide and Conquer politics. It never ceases to amaze me that this sport still exists with all the bullshit and bullying.

    1. K says:

      F1 now is more popular than ever before. No one cares about the smaller teams really, except a small amount of ‘purists’ who keep telling us how they are bored of F1…

      No one is forcing you to watch F1, nor does F1 owe you anything. There are many formulas that will suit your needs.

      1. Simmo says:

        Actually, a lot of people care about the ‘smaller’ teams.

        Many (most actually) of them have a history of this sport (Williams and Sauber in particular). I find that a lot of people on this website and on other websites all take interest.

      2. K says:

        It’s a very small group, as I mentioned. The vast majority could not care less about the teams finishing outside the top 10. Including this site or any F1 site.

      3. Andrew M says:

        2008 global audience – 600m
        2009 global audience – 520m
        2010 global audience – 527m
        2011 global audience – 515m
        2012 global audience – 500m
        2013 global audience – ?????m

      4. K says:

        TV viewing audience does not mean popularity because the last 4-6 years to live broadcasts went to paid subscriptions.

      5. Bikram says:

        or could it be down to Vettel and redbull domination? Big teams like ferrari and mclaren last fought in 2008 after that it was just brawn(2009) & redbull domination????

      6. Andrew M says:

        “TV viewing audience does not mean popularity because the last 4-6 years to live broadcasts went to paid subscriptions.”

        On the contrary, the move to paid subscriptions is one of the causes of a drop in popularity.

    2. Grant H says:

      Greed of bernie, the fia and top teams could in the long run ruin the formula

  4. Paul L says:

    I would like to see a free-enterprise F1, where the FIA polices fair and safe competition (no espionage, no regulation infringement, and safety standards adhered to, etc), but teams are free to spend and develop as they please. The law of demand and supply will decide costs.
    We may have to say goodbye periodically to some teams, but this is a natural consequence of being the top class of Motorsport. It will ensure top flight competition.

    1. Matt says:

      That’s exactly what F1 is.

      Teams ARE free to spend and develop as they please. Espionage ISN’T allowed. Regulations AREN’T infringed without punishment and safety standards ARE in place.

      The restrictions are in place to stop the Engineers killing race-drivers. Imagine how many deaths if the FIA allowed ground effects again?

      F1 is already scary fast with all these regulations. Going faster will just mean more serious consequences if someone loses traction. By all reports Red Bull have managed to get similar performance to their EBD car even with the exhausts pointing in completely the wrong spot.

      Your law of supply and demand is looking like it might kill a few people.

      1. Kurt says:

        They are free to spend within the agreed limits and within the highly constrictive and detailed sporting rules. I agree with the point about ground effects if there were no technical limits imposed, but today’s cars are way too homogeneous. I prefer a set of rules that enables innovations by individual teams, and drop gimmicks like DRS and mandatory KERS (and dissolving tires and no refueling while we’re at it). Then a team can try to find its unique way to to top of the podium. Fans would have the benefit of watching a variety of chassis designs. The differences between today’s cars are too subtle to show up on TV or from the grandstands (or field seating).

    2. JCA says:

      That is sadly no longer possible. Sponsors are already becoming scarce at this level of spending. Red Bull dominate now with basically a marginally larger budget than Ferrari and Merc, who are the only teams who can come close. If they spend a 100 mil more, they will probably force Merc out of the sport, leving just two economically competitive teams, and lets be honest here, FIAT group aren’t exactly rolling in the money.

      The trend of the sport outside F1 points towards lower costs through more control parts or very tight technical regulations. For example, DTM and SuperGT are moving towards common technical regulations by 2017, including a control chassis, while launching a US series. Many ‘touring car’ series are becoming control chassis silhouette series (for example, Scandinavian Touring Cars), or are launching as such (we are getting a sort of budget Ausi v8 series here in South Africa next year). This means you aren’t involved in an arms race to be merely competitive.

      Most manufacturers already view F1 as too expensive, and there is no value for them in being a customer team. Viewers want close competition, these other series are geared towards making that possible, while staying economically viable.

    3. As James points out, it’s all about the money, and forgive the observation if it’s out of line in this forum: but even with the detractions and autocracy involved, it seems the NASCAR model/philosophy does produce entry fields and the performance/competition. Kurt Busch and his one-car team for example on the “budget” end and D. Patrick and Tony Stuart’s team on the other end with the money and not much to show for it except tons of publicity.

      On the other hand, maybe it’s just the smaller box described by the chassis, motor and gearing rules that is what you see.

    4. Fada says:

      This will ultimately lead to the end of F1. Already, we have teams like Red-bull pushing the Financial boundaries put in place. Imagine what will happen when those boundaries were put away. If that happens, I envisage that between 4-5 years, there might only be 3-4 constructors left in the sport. They will be those teams that can afford to remain profitable in the sport. i.e. Those that can convert the massive spending, into prize money, come the business end of the season.(Of course I say this assuming that at such point, the spending will not out weight the prize money)

      Ultimately, I think its in the best interest of the sport to try and maintain a level playing field for all the teams.

    5. Jim says:

      The trouble with your plan is that it is essentially an unregulated free market, which will end up either with one monopolistic team winning forever or a small cartel. Given the competitive attitudes of F1 teams I suspect the former, leading to boredom for spectators, dwindling audiences and the collapse of F1 as the top level of motorsport.

  5. Hoovie says:

    “The F1 Strategy Group is composed of three equal thirds: FIA has six votes, although it will be represented at meetings by only one person, the same carries for the commercial rights holder, while the six teams have one vote each.”
    So the only time ANY of the teams opinions will matter is when the FIA and Bernie disagree then? Which could means if the FIA is offered a bit more cash by Bernie to agree to anything, the teams potentially have no right of veto it.

    1. James Allen says:

      And vice versa with Bernie & a majority of the teams on the F1SG

      1. vic says:

        Im with James here. This is similar to politics with the two big parties having 40 MPs each and a small party of just five MPs, then the real power is the small party (the teams) which decides when Bernie or the FIA is right and when is not. Anytime the FIA and Bernie disagree (which is a lot of the time) teams would have the real power not the FIA or Bernie

      2. James Allen says:

        Then it’s about who has more levers with the teams Todt or Bernie

        As money is the best lever of all you can see which way this cookie crumbles..

      3. Fada says:

        I don’t see the FIA agreeing with the Teams too often on many things. So Bernie is basically going to have a “Joker effect” on things. He will be the deciding factor on many issues that may arise.

        Also, what are the odds that any thing that the FIA disagree on vs Bernie is something that the Teams agree on? I guess the real question here is do the FIA and Teams ever agree on anything ? Any thoughts James ?

      4. Tim says:

        When did the teams start agreeing with each other , I must have missed that memo. ;-)

    2. SteveS says:

      In practice all the real power lies with the big teams. If Bernie and the FIA want to do one thing while Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren want to do something else, I’d bet on the latter getting their way regardless of the nominal voting system. At the end of the day F1 simply IS the teams. If Merc, Ferrari, RB and Mclaren threaten to leave the sport, there would be no F1 without them.

      1. Variable says:

        The six team representation just identifies (or reinforces) which teams are highly valued and if a threat of break-away was to happen again, these would be the teams that would matter, if they all agreed to break away. The rest of the teams are just there to fill the grid. What disrespect this shows them. The force India dude mentioned in the article has every right to feel left out and at the whim of the larger teams, who themselves are private companies trying to get what is best for themselves and their share holders or owners.

        It just seems the more money and third party businesses get involved in formula 1, the less of a sport this formula has become. Such a shame as its the best publicised sport at the monent.

      2. MG says:

        I beg to differ Sir. Don’t forget about Ferrari’s annual bonus and then re-think your comment please!

  6. Femi Akins says:

    Amazing sport F1. Seems to make all the right moves to slit its own throat but somehow someway grows in popularity and demand.

    How does this happen?

    1. Random 79 says:

      I believe we help a bit.

      Not sure what that says about us…

      1. Matt says:

        I feel the exact same way ..

      2. Matt says:

        I feel the exact same way …

        Definitely come out feeling a little unclean for supporting F1 and CVC at the end of the day

    2. Variable says:

      One name – bernie

      He has a knack o getting the best outcome of any situation no matter how bad. You really have to admire that in the man even if you disagree with him

      I believe once be leaves the sport, one of two things will happen, 1 the sport will fall into a heap of dust as its been finely tuned and highly strung together with the mastermind Bernie himself being the single piece holding it all together or 2 the sport may actually become a sport again as no one else could possible run the sport as ruthless and greed and have as much passion for the sport as a man like Bernie.

      But I also agree that with all this attention we (the fan base) keep giving simply adds fuel to the fire.

      The funny thing is, I sometimes wonder that if the sport didn’t have any fans at all, would it in fact stop? Some part of me thinks not because the entire circus is a big business making lots of money. Why would you stop that gravy train?

      1. Jim says:

        If nobody watches it there will be no more TV coverage, no more TV money, no more sponsorship money and no more F1 as we know it.

  7. bearforce says:

    For me, this would be a real shame if there are customer cars replacing the current smaller teams.

    I like the fact that this is not spec series and that all the teams are individual. I know F1 teams already share/buy engines, gear boxes and brakes etc but I still like it that the cars are still to my mind individual and different for each team.

    My hope is that if customer cars are allowed that they are introduced in addition to the current teams. That there continues to be at least ten individual teams building their own non-customer cars. This is to say that this will make the field larger.

    I appreciate the costs aspects and that it would make things financially easier for both big and small teams. I just don’t know how big or bad the financial situation is and what is absolutely necessary.

    Lol, Alonso could get that RedBull he asked for from Ferrari.

    1. Bill Bergner says:

      As you mention, the teams already share major components such as engines, gearboxes and energy recovery systems.
      How would it hurt F-1 if the smaller teams were able to also buy tubs, suspension components and wings? The bodywork is already so close between teams that without paint schemes it is almost impossible to tell them apart.
      Leave it to the teams to assemble and integrate the components.
      We would then be in a situation similar to the “kit car” era and I remember that as enjoyable for the level of competition among the teams. The driver was then the most important element and that is as it should be.

      1. roberto marquez says:

        Agree 100 percent.

  8. Random 79 says:

    Sounds like the inmates running the asylum to me, which might be fine except those who are arguably the sanest ones and who are genuinely interesting in things cost-cutting are told to sit in the corner and keep their mouths shut until they are asked for their opinion, by which time it’s already too late; the decision has effectively already been made.

    I don’t think customer cars are the way to go: not for any specific reason, just a general feeling. I’d like to see the mid and lower field teams take the fight to the top teams with their own cars, but they need to be given a reasonably level playing field so that they have a decent opportunity to do so…something that has almost zero chance of happening under this new system.

    One last thing:

    “Since the FIA became recognised by the International Olympic Committee”

    What does that mean? Are going to have F1 races in the Olympics now? How about setting Olympic records for the shortest pit stop? Maybe as a way to force cost-cutting the FIA plan to only hold a championship once every four years.

    Can someone please explain to me why on Earth the IOC would recognise or even care about the FIA, or the FIA about the IOC?

    1. Nick says:

      Recognised as Motorsports world governing body…like FIFA, FINA etc.

      The FIA oversees more than just F1…

      “As the governing body of motorsport worldwide and the representative of 60 million road and track users from over 230 member clubs, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile is the global motoring organisation. “

      1. Rich C says:

        So what?
        Is some sort of “motoring” coming to the Olympics?
        It would fit right in there with some of the recently proposed “sports” like shuffleboard, bridge, chess, and watching paint dry.

  9. Sean O'Toole says:

    The problem it seems to me is that any of the bodies attached to F1 find it very hard to make a decision such are the vested interests. At least a smaller body such as this Strategy Group might find it easier. They also have a vested interest to make sure there are more than 6 teams in F1 in the future. If there were only 6 teams and one dominant winner, interest in the sport would be reduced.

    Anyway are the smaller teams totally “independent”. At least when off the track Torro Rosso currently are aligned with Red Bull, Sauber has to keep Ferrari happy, Force India want to keep Mercedes happy etc etc.

  10. williams are a great case in point. yes, they were a top team a very long time ago but today they are simply a shadow.

    it is obvious that they simply cannot build a car that can challenge at the top. let them buy customer cars and then we may see some competition from them. williams are simply an F1 embarrassment, heritage or not.

    1. Matt says:

      They’re a shadow ‘now’. Doesn’t mean they can’t turn it around. It’s amazing what money will do for a team, if they can find the funds watch out.

      Williams are not an F1 embarrassment. They’re making the best out of a bad situation. What happens to engineering ingenuity with customer cars? Some amazing designs have come from mid-field teams.

      1. correct me if i am wrong but they have one race since JPM last won in brazil in 2004!!!!!

        to me, nine years casts a very long shadow.

      2. Matt H says:

        With respect the top step is a coveted one Since 2004 apart from mclaren ferrari lotus red bull and merc they have virtually bettered anyone else.One more than force India same amount as torro Rosso more than caterham marussia and sauber making them the best of the rest? Can’t think of anyone other than the now defunct brawn / now Merc. A five team grid would be awful yes there slower but certainly not roadblocks maybe Formula 1 isn’t your thing if you want equality. Gp2 etc are maybe a tad more similar level. In your opinion any team but a red bull would be road blocks as there all miles slower even Ferrari and mclaren

      3. Matt H says:

        Maybe Jordan as well but not sure if they won in 2004 onward as Matt (no relation : ) above) mentioned that these Williams saubers etc have some cracking ideas such as blown diffusers intricate gearbox designs and other nifty tech that no current top team overlook. Even the cars near the back will have an idea or piece of kit that the top boys may deem investigating in the search for 10ths

      4. Stephen Taylor says:

        Wrong they won the 2012 Spanish GP.

    2. Matt H says:

      Bit of a short sighted comment mate. Williams may not be the powerhouse they were before but they have a rich and proud heritage in F1 and have created numerous iconic moments and cars. I for one believe we need lower teams like all sports do. Yes to a degree the likes of HRT were a poor example but other teams need to exist. Watching 3 Ferrari,Red bull and Mclarens would be terrible for sport. These guys work just as hard with lower budgets and improvise very well. I respect your opinion but this would be like having a premier league without anyone but the top six. The media fans love a underdog and seeing Jordan’s, Arrows, Minardi’s getting points all make history too. I can see your point with customer cars would help these teams but in reality it opens the realms of team sharing data and that’s not good. Torro Rosso/Red Bull irks me as I find cars jumping out the way as their parent company pays for them is frankly anti-racing. These teams should be fighting for every position.

      1. the backmarkers are simply roadblocks. i would rather see a total field made up of cars that could all ‘theoretically’ hit the podium. IMO that would be far more interesting.

        then, even the those teams would attract better drivers by being competitive. the money saved by acquiring customer cars could be spent on drivers rather than having to have pay drivers.

        as for williams….i followed them as a team since inception and they were simply the best. that is history. today they almost invisible. a pity but heritage means stuff all unless you are providing the performance. people keep banging on about williams illustrious past. yes that is something that they have locked away. the fact is, today, they are a big fat zero.

  11. the bottom four teams really are going absolutely nowhere. it makes far more sense to change the rules and allow customer cars. sure, there are some downsides but overall these are outweighed by the positives. i am all for it.

    1. roberto marquez says:

      +100,you are tottaly right.And we would have more action in the races.

    2. Tim says:

      I think your suggestion would actually make things worse for the bottom teams.
      If, for instance, the top 4 teams were allowed to sell 2 cars each, there would then be 8 top teams. The effect of this would be the current 5th placed team, which presently competes for top 10 points, would suddenly become the 9th best team, fighting for 17th place at best. No points = no prize money = no team :-( What could happen next would be even worse. These top 8 teams would gradually evolve into 4 teams of 4 cars – the suppliers would be keen to protect their brand and would ensure the customers were looked after, thus leaving us , effectively, with only 4 teams in F1 – change of senior management at Honda, Mercedes or whoever and they decide F1 isn’t for them and 25% of the grid disappears overnight :-( :-(

      1. who said anything about the top 4 teams only selling 2 cars each?

        i am simply putting forward the idea that there is no need to have bottom feeders at all. a lot less roadblocks and those teams who were traditional tail enders enter a race knowing that they are better equipped to fight for a result.

      2. Tim says:

        If the top teams had no restriction on the number of cars they could sell, the degeneration into 6, 8 or even 10 car teams would simply happen sooner, rather than later.
        Imagine 8 Red Bulls on the grid, 2 from the current team and 6 customer cars – all effectively controlled by the parent team and CH. Would that be a more competitive grid? In that scenario, would Ferrari, Lotus or Mercedes enter the race thinking they might compete for the win?
        Be careful what you wish for….
        Surely it’s much healthier for the sport to have 11 teams who are independent of one another. They might not all be competitive, but all have ambition to succeed. The best way to strengthen the F1 grid is to find a way to restrict ridiculous spending and at the same time try to ensure the money that the sport generates remains in the sport and is distributed in a more equitable fashion.

    3. Kirk says:

      I don’t know it would be scary, this would be the same as MotoGP works, three brands, Honda, Yamaha and Ducatti and the rest are customer or CRT bikes, the problem is that the fight will be locked to the brand cars, currently in MotoGP the fight is consistently between three drivers no one else has any chance. If today in F1 the fight is close, with that model would be probably even worse.

  12. KARTRACE says:

    When F1 was running in this format in yesteryears wasn’t less attractive at all. It makes sense to get this two fold direction of management. It could curbe costs that are far to great for any series.

  13. Pete says:

    James

    I just listened to the sound clips of the new Honda engines… Like a lot of people out there, I felt on first hearing that they don’t sound as thrilling.

    Is there any likelihood that when they’re put into a whole car, the acoustics will change and improve? e.g. it’ll be mixed in with gearbox noise, different exhausts, etc?

    Also I watched the Senna movie last night…amazing. Such good memories. I’d forgotten just how on the edge they were all the time. The cars seemed so much less planted than they do now. Great stuff :)

    Pete

    1. Random 79 says:

      I think any recording of an engine on a dyno is going to sound sterile. The new engines will sound different, but hopefully with real world acoustics they’ll sound better :)

    2. grat says:

      There are youtube clips of the current generation of F1 engines also on the test stand… there’s not really that much difference.

      Engine management, exhaust design, actual moving parts, Doppler shifts– these are what’s going to make up the majority of the character of the engine sound.

      The biggest difference will be the sound under braking– expect it sound much like the Audi E-tron LMP, chopping in/out going into corners, and then screaming back up as the cars accelerate out.

  14. MR says:

    Let the big 4 sell their product to customers but don’t let them have an entry as the supplier. Thats the only way there would be any resemblance of fairness in this mess. The FIA and B.E are the big fatcats here with all the power and say but doing and saying very little to control the big 4. Its interesting that 4 teams can control and have all the say over 6 others – I say 6 as Torro Rosso would do what they were told to by Red Bull.

    1. Stephen Taylor says:

      Have 3 championships
      WCC, WDC and a satellite teams championships for those with customer cars.

  15. Javier Marcelo says:

    Customer teams has been an extraordinary experience for MotoGP survival.

    Some Customer teams like Honda Gresini (Simonchelli, Bautista) or Yamaha Tech 3 ((Cruchlow), and the new Honda Aspar Team (Nick Hayden) are examples how good can they perform and survive at a competitive level.

    If that is good or not for F1 I don’t know (too many political ítems involved) but with the financial situation wordwide and MotoGP example, Its easy to imagin this is a way for F1 at a near future.

    1. Kirk says:

      Maybe you are right, but today in MotoGP just the title teams are winning, Yamaha and Honda, and the rest of the drivers have zero chance to win, so this model could work but the risk is when some of the main teams withdraw and the cars should be provided just by three or two teams, although MotoGP is very entertaining to watch, I don’t like the certainty of just four guys with the chance to win, today in F1 you have 4 teams/8 drivers (5 teams if McLaren would have made a decent car) able to win at least in the beginning of the year.

      1. Flying lap says:

        You are right.

        But if you are a MotoGP fan (I definitely am), can see that Cruchtlow and Bautista are in a very competitive level, every race. Thay fight with Valentino (official Yamaha) every race for the fourth place. Both in a customer team. In that way, they are ready for a better chance as soon as they get into a top bike.

        And I think Hayden could be in the same sape in next year´s new “Honda Aspar Team”.

        You dont find that kind of performances in second class F1 Teams, except for exceptional Vettel (2009 in a R.Bullis Toro Roso, 1 win, 2 podiums), or Hulk this year (4 years later).

        I dont say I would like to see customer teams in F1, I refer that there is a very high chance to happen, because it has been tested in top motoring championsihip already. Succesfully.

        MotoGP was assuming that they even would need to allow two constructor Teams (Honda and Yamaha) to have 3 drivers each. At the moment it hasn´t been necesesary, because Suzuki is coming soon (2014 very possibly, 2015 sure).

        They have solved MotoGP´s crisis period.

      2. Kirk says:

        You are right, I also enjoy those battles in MotoGP and hope the Ducatti now owned by Audi and Suzuki (in 2015) make the show even better so there could be more battles in the front, in F1 it would be tricky for this to work, if that happen I just want that this could be a decision based in general convenience instead on the benefit of those 4 teams, of course that is a naive thinking I guess.

  16. Tony Hedley says:

    Development of the car during a season would be interesting for the customer team. Presumably the car would come from the start with various downforce packages to suit Monaco or Spa but other updates would only be released if it suited the manufacturer. Isn’t there a similar system in Motoring?

    1. Javier Marcelo says:

      MotoGP

    2. Flying lap says:

      Read post 15 of this news if you are interested in my opinion of MotoGP experience with customer bikes.

  17. Mitchel says:

    What’s the point in Formula One being recognised by the Olympic committee? Somehow the piranha club doesn’t really sit well with the Olympic ideal…

    And I think customer cars, or the bigger teams running three cars would give a nice bit of variety- or at least make relative driver comparisons easier.

    1. James Allen says:

      The IOC has had to clean its act up over the last 15 years, it’s not exactly always been a bastion of propriety!

      Different story now, with the organisation Jacques Rogge has handed over to his successor

      1. Random 79 says:

        Interesting, but it doesn’t really answer the question: Why is the FIA being “recognised” by the IOC?

      2. Javier Marcelo says:

        It can not be for other reason than F1 wanting to be part of the Olimpic Games, in the future.

        If that (F1 olimpic) makes sense, I don’t think so, neither.

  18. The Pob says:

    All teams should be constructors, its a principle of F1. For as long as I have been watching the sport teams at the back have complained about costs, if you can’t afford to go racing you don’t go.

    With customer cars, its the thin end of the wedge, how long before there are 15+ meaningless teams in F1.

    We already have ‘control’ tyres, ECU’s, engines etc,etc- the sport is in danger of going the wrong way down a one way street.

    1. Toni says:

      +1000 billions :D ;)

    2. Javier Marcelo says:

      You two, billionaries, because I asume you are not watching F1 before 1930, It has never been this finantial scenario in your “long life” nor in the sport, after that.

      And if at the 30s there were no F1, there is no previous test to confirm it will survive to this crisis.

      then, F1 should look arround, not behind, to be creative and smart.

      MotoGP is a good example of other ways to maintain, even increase The expectacle during this crisis. Just that, pure racers.

  19. Scuderia McLaren says:

    It might be me getting older, and being anchored to the F1 that captured my imagination, but F1 is really becoming shit. If the car selling comes in, I think that will be the final nail. The crappy tyres (that are here to stay), the fake passing (DRS, KERS), the delta based driving outside of Quali, the loss of epic euro tracks replaced with Tilkedromes in deserts and swamps and the new green Hyundai engine regs I have overlooked. But seeing 6-8 RBR’s in the top 8 or 6-8 McLarens in the top 8 depending on whom has the best car is it for me. What will then happen is they’ll spec and freeze the chassis once its even, like they did with engines and we have NASCAR with wings.

    1. Tim says:

      I sense you are more of a glass half empty type ;-)
      Having said that, I think you have more than a fair point or two in your comment.

  20. RapidRick says:

    Each team designing their own car is an essential attraction F1.

    BUT make this R&D more relevant to road cars by cutting down significantly on the aero side of development. I would start by banning front wings and restricting rear wings..

  21. Frank Dernie says:

    The problem with customer teams is how much easier it is to be a customer than constructor. Like when it was permitted before, there will have to be an artificial means of limiting numbers, which means each team’s greatest asset by far will be its entry – an absurd state of affairs.
    F1 could even lean towards a 1 make formula, since all customer teams would want whichever car was most competitive and the others would struggle, or even stop being constructors to become customers.

    The problem with F1 is not a lack of cash in the sport. The problem is that the vast majority goes as profit to CVC rather than to the teams and circuits.
    With the promoter getting 6 votes on the Strategy Group this is unlikely to be corrected.

    I can see how as a profitable business it would be attractive to Bernie. OTOH it would no longer be F1.
    IMHO.

    1. Random 79 says:

      “F1 could even lean towards a 1 make formula, since all customer teams would want whichever car was most competitive and the others would struggle, or even stop being constructors to become customers.”

      Essentially the same situation we have with the engines: All the customer teams want the best engine they can afford, others struggle, and some (Renault & Honda) have stopped being works teams.

      Everything you said after that is pretty much bang on. I’d like to see more money feed back to the teams and in a more even spread than the Ferrari and Williams have history so get more regardless of where they finish while Marussia get shafted system we currently enjoy.

    2. JCA says:

      There is some hope, though it is a long shot. If Bernie is convicted in Germany, the FIA could try to void the commercial rights contract, then set parameters ito prise money and budgets and the like. This would require a strong and independent FIA president.

      1. James Allen says:

        That would be an earthquake!

      2. Bryce says:

        A welcome one, hopefully shifting the ground to a somewhat even level.

      3. Tim says:

        @JCA
        This would require a strong and independent FIA president….

        Does such a person exist? ;-)

  22. Dai Dactic says:

    The F1 Strategy Group concept is reasonable provided it can establish a more democratic basis.
    Re-brand the ‘customer’ cars as ‘satellite’ cars – I don’t have a problem with the MotoGP format.

    In an ideal world there would be ten manufacturer-based teams all with unlimited budgets competing at the highest level – the word ‘pinnacle’ could then be used legitimately without irony.

    Unfortunately we’re stuck with reality.

  23. MISTER says:

    It’s a tough one.
    I can understand the small teams, but what’s the point of having Marrussia and Caterham? For 4 years now, they are not able to move and blend with those in midfield. So what’s the point of having 4 cars running always a lap or two down?

    1. Random 79 says:

      Mobile chicanes to make the finishes more interesting ;)

    2. Bryce says:

      Maybe if they received more than NOTHING at all or the few crumbs respectively, that are currently rationed out by those that take much more than their fair share, they would have a chance to keep up with the pack.

    3. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      Feeder teams so young drivers get a chance to impress, especially young drivers that don’t have an oil company/telecoms company/country funding attached to them.

      Alonso Minardi, Webber Minardi, Senna Toleman?

      The other point s if there are 4 cars from 2 teams actually entertaining us by racing each other, they’re likely to get more TV time than Red Bull, 30s in the lead racing against the wind. ;)

  24. Stuart Harrison says:

    For me, F1 is about being at the pinnacle of motorsport and the idea of customer cars runs contrary to that viewpoint.

    It’s great to see the likes of Caterham and Marussia competing against Ferrari and Red Bull because it underlines just how much technical expertise goes into these cars – that the margins can be so large across a race.

    What makes for good racing up and down the field is well thought-through sporting regulations that allow for a small team to come up with a clever idea, implemented well and gain an advantage over the other teams. Currently, there is too much stability in the sporting regs to allow this to happen; we have no repeat of 2009 in sight.

    I’m also against the idea of the F1 Strategy Group as it compresses the power into the hands of those who already have the advantage. There can be no better way to ensure that the top teams continue to win, than handing them responsibility for deciding on the direction of the sport.

    This is the wrong approach.

    1. sorry stuart but the likes of caterham and marussia don’t compete against ferrari and red bull. that is the problem i have.

  25. Alvarez says:

    Oligarchy. Its a problem everywhere.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Oligarchy should work when those few have the best interests of the many at heart…which is not the case here…

      1. Alvarez says:

        By definition the only objective Oligarchy has is the perpetuation of itself…for the few, by the few, so stuffing the rest. As far as regulations go it would be better to form a council of retired experts (people like Gary Anderson) with all teams having an equally weighted vote on their recommendations.

      2. Random 79 says:

        “As far as regulations go it would be better to form a council of retired experts (people like Gary Anderson) with all teams having an equally weighted vote on their recommendations”

        Not a bad idea, but unfortunately not likely to happen; as you said, those few that have the power right now will be wanting to hang on to it at all costs.

      3. always prefer a benevolent dictatorship. beat an oligarchy every time.

      4. Random 79 says:

        Of course, but the problem is that most dictators are…what’s a word I can use that won’t be modded?

      5. Javier Marcelo says:

        Beat every dictatorship every time!!!

        Don’t be crasy.

        We had a 40 years one in Spain. Do not make jokes with that

      6. Basil says:

        You described aristocracy.

      7. Random 79 says:

        aristocracy:

        1. a class of persons holding exceptional rank and privileges, especially the hereditary nobility.
        2. a government or state ruled by an aristocracy, elite, or privileged upper class.
        3. government by those considered to be the best or most able people in the state.
        4. a governing body composed of those considered to be the best or most able people in the state.
        5. any class or group considered to be superior, as through education, ability, wealth, or social prestige

        oligarchy:

        1. a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.
        2. a state or organization so ruled.
        3. the persons or class so ruling.

        Much of a muchness, but you can decide for yourself which one you think is right (we call that democracy ;) )

    2. Bryce says:

      Oligarchy/capitalism, same thing. The few having the power over the others.

      1. as it should always be

      2. Justin says:

        Is that you Bernard?

      3. Flying lap says:

        Social justice or equality are not socialist concepts. Those are democratic concepts.
        Aristocracy is a sticks machinery for dead… people (instead of parrots)… with no control, no guaranty, no laws, no justice, no democracy.
        Just, the government of the rich, fascism.
        If that is your alternative system, I hope your ideas stay in your mind.
        I repeat, we had a dictatorship in Spain until only 38 years ago, for 40 longggg years. Do not play with it. Stay playing with F1, stay there please.

      4. Javier Marcelo says:

        If you are saying you prefer aristocracy as a society, you are just mad or know nothing about social justicie or equality

      5. social justice/equality what a joke that is. socialism is a dead parrot on a stick.

      6. James Allen says:

        ..it has ceased to be…

  26. Lev Piautzer says:

    At the end of the day, what is the difference if the best technical talent is concentrated in 2 or 3 top teams?

    And look at the driver market, half of “customer” teams are already employing junior drivers of the “works” teams.

    The thing is that customer teams already exist, the only question is, what is the allowed level of integration into individual works teams ecosystem.

  27. Oscar says:

    Can you imagine what would happen if all the custumer teams buy a Red Bull… Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Williams would be fighting for…mmmmm, let’s see…fifteenth place. Now that would be interesting !!!!

    1. Random 79 says:

      What are you talking about? McLaren and Williams already are fighting for fifteenth place! ;)

    2. JCA says:

      Yes, this is the biggest problem here. If Red Bull effectively field six cars, the same for Ferrari and Merc, (even Mclaren are struggling to keep up with the three), and two dominate, the third becomes a uge losing operation. So they leave, so now you effectively created a two make series. Now you’re one step away from a one make series. Red Bull are unlikely to stay in the long term, so welcome to Formula Ferrari! Or to Formula Mercedes!

      1. All revved-up says:

        I think you make an excellent point.

        If we look at Lotus and recently Sauber punching above their weight- its money that’s the issue – not small teams. Small teams are capable of coming up with good ideas and beating larger teams.

        Reducing the grid to 4 cars with customer teams hollows out the expertise outside the groups that make the 4 cars.

        Just as Ferrari has a “special place” in F1 and receives a special allocation of funds, there should be a special allocation of funds to support small teams on a “temporary basis” until the future Bernie lines up sponsors for the small teams.

        I feel there are sufficient global brands that will pay for F1s global platform. I bet BMW wish they hadn’t pulled out of F1.

        These global sponsors just need some kind of assurance that the team they are sponsoring will not run out of money. Small teams need the next Bernie to work for them.

        What about a deal where certain global sponsors fund a pool that sponsors 3 small teams collectively. They then have their branding on 6 cars rather than 2. And have corporate access to 3 teams than just one.

        Just my 5 cents. This is a difficult problem isn’t it.

      2. Justin says:

        Really like “Pool of Sponsor Money” idea.

  28. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

    I’d be against having full customer cars because it goes against the concept of the racing. Williams should be able to build their own car and fight back to the front and a financial setup that allowed things like this to happen would mean a healthier F1, recession or not, willing car manufacturers or not..

    Over half the cars in the fields should not exist to top up the bank accounts of Luca di Monty’s team or any of the big teams. Potentially worse than this though, the mid and small teams should never be in the position to favour their supplier when racing or being lapped.

    There are better ways to save money while giving the smaller teams a more competing future proof business model, with a future chance of breaking into the big league.

    Customer cars, non-works and works, sounds like Le Mans, with a Class 1 Ferrari vs McLaren vs Red Bull vs Merc then a separate Class 2 for Ferrari Jr.(Sauber) vs McLaren Jr.(FI) vs Bull Jr.(Torro) vs Merc Jr.(Brawn Mk2) ;)

    Heck, I’d prefer three car big teams with the politics that would come from it. 3 Ferraris(Alonso, Kimi, Grosjean), 3 McLarens (Button, Perez, Calado), 3 Red Bulls (Seb, Ric, Hulk), 3 Mercs (Ham, Ros, di Resta) could be fun!
    There’d even be some kudos being the No.2 driver!

    1. ‘i’m against…its going against the concept of racing’ so is DRS, KERS, team orders, trash tyres etc etc etc.

  29. franed says:

    The F1 strategy group is the blunt instrument which will be used kill F1 as we know it.
    It plays heavily into Bernie’s hands.

    The slow death of free to air live tv coverage is discouraging Sponsors. Soon there will be teams missing through lack of sponsorship. The year will cost more to the teams from the end of 2013 season, so “customer teams” is a natural way to fill the empty spaces on the grid. Meanwhile Bernie is happy he has tied up tv and circuit deals for 7 years so the income flow to CVC, Delta Topco et al is assured.

    Bernie has suggested customer cars every couple of years because he is not stupid, he knows teams will disappear. He is also shifting the circuits used further afield, he needs sovereign wealth to pay, or dictatorships who need account to no one for the huge losses the GP makes for the circuits in most countries.

    Bernie will play the F1Strategy group like a Stradivarius! The smaller teams have very good reason to be worried as they can be sidelined with no say in the matter. J Todt who agreed this new structure should be ashamed of himself. He is up in front of the ethics committee soon let us hope he finds some.

    1. Jim:) says:

      So true, for all the good Bernie did in the past, these days he so blinded by greed it’s unreal, suppose when you are in a bubble surrounded by lots of yes men, telling you how great every thing is, must be hard making clear decisions,

      Every one has to take a step back and look at the future health of the sport,

      1. franed says:

        It has about four years left.

      2. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

        Surely that’ll be the top priority of the private investment company.

        Hahhahahahaha,

        or

        Perhaps the private investment company is the cancer of F1, sucking the financial lifeblood from it. Gradually getting rid of this cancer would be the best cost saving method, only then would the priorities and the future health of the sport improve.

  30. AndyFov says:

    I’ve long argued that the sport would be better with 6 main teams, with each having a satellite customer outfit.

    I understand Williams’ predicament, but if the B teams essentially get the same chassis, engine, gearbox and ERS, but retain aqequate scope to develop their own aero and suspension they’d maintain some independence and enjoy the occasional glory. They’d have a better chance of scoring points and earning more money, surely?

    It has to make more sense than going racing just knowing you’re no hope of making the final qualification session race after race after race.

    1. AndyFov says:

      How about a system where six privateers join the sport, pay an entry fee, then the customer car they get is determined in a transparent auction process?

      That’d be good, I reckon. So rather than Torro Rosso being Red Bull B for evermore, they could get outbid and end up with what their budget can stretch to.

  31. The Spanish Inquisitor says:

    So nobody will be able to buy a small team and make it great as Mr Mateschitz did. Satisfied minority….

    And…

    Will be the clients cars equal to the official ones? Je, je, je, je …..

  32. John A says:

    with customer cars what happens to the constructors’ title, where the biggest money is?

  33. Sri says:

    As many have voiced opposition to customer cars, I would bring something positive. Most of the times we all argue/talk about the drivers from top teams. There could be exceptional drivers in grid who are from smaller teams. Who knows, perhaps a Bottas/Bianchi could beat Alonso/Vettel more often if provided a good car? I think the drivers from the lower part of the grid would like this idea very much as it gives them an equal footing to compete with the drivers from top teams. Also this will also give top teams a good way to evaluate their future driver signings appropriately as they could measure the data more accurately (cue: McLaren).

    1. Rich C says:

      So you want a spec series so we can see who is the best driver?
      That doesn’t even work in IndyCars where the cars are identical but some teams seem to always dominate.

  34. Random 79 says:

    The customer cars debate: Should mid and lower field teams be able to buy cars from top end teams in order to reduce costs?

    Here’s a better idea: Make the top end teams buy cars from the lower end teams. The top end teams have the budget to spend, the lower field teams will get a healthy revenue stream, the field will close up and everyone wins! :D

    1. All revved-up says:

      Interesting out of the box thinking. Impressive!

    2. All revved-up says:

      How about small teams being allowed to pool resources for 3 seasons. Share development costs and ideas.

    3. All revved-up says:

      A “small team” loses their status as a “small team” the year following a year they finish 5th or higher in the WCC or WDC.

      1. Random 79 says:

        Naturally.

        In addition to money they received from their customer team they would also receive increased prize money in terms of their championship position – making them genuine contenders – while other teams that were at the top shuffle down a bit which kind of levels out the playing field a bit without the need for forced cost-cutting, rubbish tyres or any other artificial means of making the races more exciting.

        I admit it started out as kind of a joke idea, but now I seriously think it might have some merit :)

    4. JohnBt says:

      LOL! your an idealist aren’t you.

      1. Random 79 says:

        Nah, I’m just a cynic who tries to look on the bright side ;)

  35. Clear View says:

    I do not support customer cars. They would have to run 2 driver championships as you can’t count a driver in a team designed car against a possibly younger less experienced driver who beats the other in a customer car!. It’s just stupid. In F1 you needs 3 things, good car, good driver, good team. A good car and driver mean nothing if they are in bought tech. I would sooner see the teams be forced to run 3 cars than see “wannabe’s” with deep pockets buy success. That’s not F1. It’s always been a constructor series and those constructors hand pick the best drivers from around the world to pilot these machines, pay drivers are already hurting this and customer cars would spell the end as we know it. You would have to have the constructors champ, the customer champ, then constructors drivers champ and customer drivers champ. How hard would that be to flow if you get for example RedBull 1-2 and RedBull customer 3-4 them McLaren 5-6 with customers McLaren 7-8. That would pickle ya brain.

    1. Javier Marcelo says:

      In MotoGP you have two championships racing toguether allready. There is the motoGP and the CRTs, claiming rules teams. Those ones have different rules to get into the batle for less money.

      F1 will never do it, except if this crisis last for other 5 years. So, never say never. Full stop.

      1. Clear View says:

        If there was simply a more ‘fair’ distribution of overall income from the sport (not including teams individual sponsor deals) with CVC taking much less and the difference between 1st and 10th place prize money not being over £100million then the teams could have a far greater budget, even the small teams. CVC take around 50% straight out, this is the crux of the problem and until it’s addressed head on then everything else is just damage limitation and prolonging the inevitable colapse of our beloved sport.

      2. Javier Marcelo says:

        I agree.

        But F1 is part of this unfear life´s sistem where we are.

        That would never happen, even if it should.

  36. George O'Sullivan says:

    If you look at Moto GP right now we can see a picture of the outcome long term,

    We would have 12 factory cars at the front and the rest would stay at privateers while grabbing the odd breadcrum we someone up front trips up! I know it sounds a bit like today except today some like Lotus can climb up,

    Sounds a bit 50% F1 50 % INDY cars? To me.

  37. Clear View says:

    James off topic slightly could we see a “agree” and “disagree” button on the comments please. Just a thought.

    1. AndyFov says:

      *agree*

    2. Anil Parmar says:

      Yes! This would be fantastic!

    3. JohnBt says:

      Then might as well have one for Vettel, great or not great. That’ll hurt badly though.

      1. Javier Marcelo says:

        Or average. Third button.

      2. Bartholomew says:

        Yes Javier, an “average” quadruple champion (who holds many records, even from dragging a BMWs/Toro Rossos into places they didn’t belong).

      3. Javier Marcelo says:

        I know.

        An average clever boy!!!.

        But a RB´s boy. That´s why he is clever, and very lucky, to be the RB “protegy”.

        Only when he asume real risks and leaves home, we will focus on him through a different cristal colour.

  38. Elie says:

    The commercial interests both within the teams and the commercial rights holder would outnumber the sporting interests in F1- whenever you have this imbalance something unsporting is likely to happen – not that we can say F1 has been all about this so far .

    It’s a terrible trajedy if we move to customer cars or the elimination of smaller teams because as soon as you limit opposition or perspective you limit innovation and diversification. I truly believe teams like Caterham are the teams of the future they are becoming successful manufactures of sports cars in their own right and as soon as F1 regulations begin to bridge technologies between race cars and road cars real innovation in the sport will happen. Why on earth would we want to loose a team like Sauber who outpaced their Works supplier only last week. Look at what Lotus has achieved over the last 2 years alone- Is this not truly the thing that team principals build teams and go racing for?? Why would we want a Sauber developed by Ferrari and what guarantee will we have that it will have that the build would be the same as the works car.

    If the long term viability of F1 teams and commercial/ financial considerations are what’s driving this strategy group then surely the answer is to address the financial and commercial problems that now exist in the sport- namely-
    1.. A fair share of the Revenue to All teams
    2. Budgets for all teams to ensure the longevity of All teams
    3. Wider sporting regulations to invite creativity and innovation.

    Even slight improvements in these 3 areas would tremendously improve the equity in F1 even now. Why on earth do the key stakeholders in the sport continually avoid the fundamental things that guarantee a stable foundation for all parties- purely for the growing financial interests of a few parties and the wealth of their boards. I think most racing fans like the diversity of seeing 10-12 racing brands each with their own character , rather than just being customers of 4 brands and there is no guarantee that this formula would last anyway..

    The answers will always exist in the 3 things above but until the strategy group or interests in the sports learn to accept this- anything else will deviate from F1 being the highest level of motor sport– something which it should never loose sight of.

  39. Aleksandar says:

    Get teams to implement 3 car standard, lets have more people with equal gear, get rid of sponsorship cars that act as taxi cars circulating the track for air time…

    1. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      That would be just the top teams with 3 cars each…

      The question is, would you still have one pit box for all three cars?

      Hmmmm, as I imagine Murray commentating…

      “The heavens have opened, it’s pouring down, and Massa is in, he stops on his mark, jacked up, wait, they’re pushing him into the garage, Alonso is in, jacked up, tyres off, Massa is punching his steering wheel, Kimi is stacked behind Alonso, they’re telling him 1st gear brakes on, he says leave me alone, Wets on Alonso is away, Kimi hits the mark, jacked up, Massa is smashing his head off the steering wheel, Wets on Kimi, dropped and away, Massa is wheeled back out of the garage, jacked up, 4 new Wets and a steering wheel change, dropped and away, wait, the three Ferraris are stuck in the pit lane, punching their steering wheels, all three RedBulls are in at once and they’re using Webber as a block, it’s Multi123 again, and they’re off out, wow, oh my, a rainbow, the sun is coming out, the track is drying, box, box, box!

      ;)

  40. Marcelo Leal says:

    Hi James, a little off-topic…
    I’m still curious about the problem qith the tyres on Lewis Hamilton’s car in Korea. Seconds slower, and that killed his race… Hamilton said that he dis know exactly what happened, and would not happen again. He said yet that was not a problem with the team, just him. What I think was strange was he saying that “the team did anything wrong, etc”. Seems like it was exactly that, when the driver tries to protect the team. Do you know if there was some problem on his car? Or what was “his” error to lap 2 or 3 seconds slower than the rest of the field?
    Thanks!

    1. Bryce says:

      I thought a damaged floor was the problem.

  41. Steven Mason says:

    F1 is just to expensive now for the smaller teams. That’s were the problem is at, that’s the issue that needs addressing. Gone are the days where we will see a team jump right up the grid from the end of one season to the next.
    But that’s ok lets just start another Formula up that’s more equal and is about racing and not massive sponsership deals or brands!

  42. Steven Mason says:

    Also it’s the way of the world now. The ones with power and money wanna gain more power and money. Why else wouldn’t they include all F1 teams involved? Because they don’t care and are greedy only really thinking about themselfs and making more profit for themselfs. They will sell a car then charge for extra wind tunnel, simulator time maybe even track data etc etc. They will probably force there brand name upon the customers so we could get RBR Caterham.(example).. Think about it, of course they are gonna want people to see customer cars as there product.. They won’t just let Caterham take credit for there design if they get a good result.

    1. Bryce says:

      Sad, but too true.

    2. All revved-up says:

      From various perspectives that has been the case for the longest of times – don’t see a global empire emanating from one of the south Pacific island nations.

      But are the rich really happy? (Other than Max Chilton and Kimi – of course)

      But from an evolutionary biology timescale perspective, this state of affairs is probably just a temporary glitch. But not a glitch that should put us off enjoying life, and F1.

  43. PeterG says:

    The problem with customer cars is that the Mid/back of pack teams have invested heavily in infrastructure to build there own cars.

    Is it fair for a team like Sauber to be beat by a team thats simply brought a Red Bull & not had to invest in any of the R&D or car construction that Sauber have?

    You could say that Sauber could then buy a customer car, But they have invested millions in building the infrastructure to allow them to build there own cars, Do they just throw all of that equipment away or just leave it gathering dust as a massive waste of money?

    Also what happens if we have a year where 1 team build the best car & another team have built that car?
    Podium lock-outs with the championship over even sooner, Thats what will happen & thats why its only the top teams that really seem to want customer cars.

    As to this new strategy group where only the top teams are allowed. Sounds awfully like CART to me & the way CART was run was a complete disaster for anybody but the top few teams.

  44. Rein says:

    F1 of the future:
    customer cars = YES
    manufacturers allowed to run 3 cars = YES
    more teams/cars/manufacturers/brands = YES
    more races/events per year = YES
    bigger budgets for marketing/entertainment/show = YES
    smaller budgets for front-wings and blown diffusors = YES
    All this will result in more global exposure, more entertainment, more viewers, cheaper tickets, more industry interest, more media interest and so on.
    Millions of new viewers matter – not 1000 F1 purists.
    It will happen, it is unavoidable in my humble opinion.

    1. Random 79 says:

      In other words welcome to F1 WWE: No thanks.

    2. Sujith says:

      I agree with most of it what you said except for the customer cars. It is against the whole philosophy of the sport.

      And I would like to add in..

      Bigger Budgets for Engines and other mechanical aspects of the cars, like suspension etc. Bring back active suspensions and make the technology more road relevant.

      Spending billions on wind tunnels and other Aero stuff to produce cars that channel fart gasses is just absurd. Nobody understands it, and can’t use it in the road-car industry. ERS systems are the future.

      F1 has to be more road relevant and green! People who still moan about missing the v10s make no sense at all. A sport that contributes to a better tomorrow will be loved!

      1. Random 79 says:

        “A sport that contributes to a better tomorrow will be loved!”

        That’s what Formula E is hoping for at least :)

  45. Kainfri says:

    I’ve long time thought that customer teams would be a great idea. Let’s assume there were 4 Adrian Newey-designed Red Bulls out there, Formula One would be less boring.

    And even if “customer cars” were mandated to be a year-all car, I’m convinced that a properly operated last year Red Bull would very easily beat a Catheram or a Marusia.

    We keep wondering if Bianchi, Di Resta are really good, with cars that are closer to the front we would have the answer, and for their teams it would be a much much cheaper way to go racing.

    Williams (my favourite team) would suffer in this scenario, and that’s what worries me the most. As James pointed out, Williams would have a hard time beating a RedBull-Catheram, and I’m not sure that Franck, a real racer, would like to become a pure customer: its team still have the people, the tools to come back to the front.

    1. wiliams actually have one of the very best facilities available and they proclaim to have a very healthy budget so given that they do have the tools and the budget, why only one race win in 9years and one miserable point in the entire season to date?

  46. Bernd says:

    Excluding half the teams from decision making can’t be a very good idea.

    I’m undecided on whether customer cars would be good or bad for F1 at this point, but I’ll throw this out here: go watch the American CART series, the seasons from the late 90s (all on YouTube). In a field of maybe 25 cars you had most of them using Reynard chassis, maybe a small handful of Swift cars, one uncompetitive Lola, and one or two teams persevering with their own cars (Penske and Eagle IIRC). There were four engine manufacturers and two tire companies. And the racing was fantastic, much better than what we’re seeing in F1 these days. So customer cars aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Aren’t we hearing a lot of complaints about how it’s uninteresting to see the one driver with superiour machinery drive away at the front?

    1. Rich C says:

      >>Excluding half the teams from decision making can’t be a very good idea.

      Yes it is, actually. You’ll recall the old adage that the difficulty in organizing a group of ppl to go to lunch increases as the square of the number of ppl involved?

      So the difficulty of 6 vs 12 would be 36 vs 144, or 4 x as hard. And it’s *already a train wreck!

  47. Scandal, I’m having a shocker!

  48. Dave Howard says:

    As with most things, its all about money. I believe the small teams could be much more competitive if they were better funded and innovation returned through relaxing more rules. They need more money from the sport returned to them.

    We already have other formula with customer cars or non-manufactured cars. IMHO F1 needs the small teams, needs them to be prosperous and competitive by their own designs. I have no interest in watching a series where the major differences that we recognize on TV are the liveries. I have that in the US, its called Indycar. And while there is alot a variety in who wins any given week, I can’t sit still for a complete race without falling asleep.

    1. Rich C says:

      >>I have no interest in watching a series where the major differences that we recognize on TV are the liveries.

      +1000000000000000000000000

      Yet, that is the way F1 rules are already. I’ll bet if you took off the paint most ppl even on this blog couldn’t tell them apart.

      1. Sujith says:

        “Yet, that is the way F1 rules are already. I’ll bet if you took off the paint most ppl even on this blog couldn’t tell them apart.”

        Naah!! You can clearly see the difference between a Lotus, Marrusia Sauber and a Caterham without paint.

        Maybe.. I mean maybe, some people might get confused between a Merc and a Ferrari :P

  49. michael grig says:

    for us de facto a grid of 8 cars + 2 volatile
    would be the future; yet i don’t think so; patching here tweaking there is how they’ll overpass the impass; f1 became too big (money or passion) to disapear

  50. Marcus in Canada says:

    This is wrong. This is short term thinking, customer teams would kill F1 in the longer term just like it did Indy/Champ Cars in North America. It’s not so long ago that Red Bull was a small start up called Stewart GP. That kind of thing has always been the lifeblood of F1.

  51. fox says:

    F1 should be ruled by Flavio Briatore. It would be a show. We will miss old good times when there was some sport, but looking at these two recent seasons I am OK to have F1 like boxing… the show.

    1. JohnBt says:

      Flavio all by himself is already a show, don’t you think so?

  52. Sujith says:

    Was it Vijay Malya that said, “The Championship is called the Constructor’s Championship and we have to do justice to the name”?

  53. cc says:

    Any words to the effect that it would benefit the small teams sounds like nonsensical spin when they are excluded from the new group. I imagine a Luca would tell them it’s all for their own good, meaning the truth is 180 from that.

  54. Peter Scandlyn says:

    Can anyone point me to where Aabar got on board Toro Rosso, please? I thought they’d relatively recently, say mid-season 2013, been with Lotus –
    is this another Lotus deal that wasn’t?

    1. James Allen says:

      Aabar was with Mercedes until they split I think end of 2011.

      Link with Toro R I think was late 2012.

      I’ve heard that the ultimate plan is for them to take over Toro Rosso. It’s one of those stories it’s hard to get any really good steer on but we’re working on it!

  55. luqa says:

    It’s becoming a bit of an old boys club- literally! (BE anyone)

    What are the implications if I wanted to join the “club” as a Manufacturer? All seems to be too much of a “closed shop” union.

  56. Monza01 says:

    I would like to see a return to the lower tech world of the 1970′s where there was an open door policy and a team could turn up with a car and attempt to pre qualify for the race weekend proper.

    Customer cars were allowed, of course, and teams such as MARCH manufactured cars that were often competitive. As a result the team flourished for a period.

    More drivers could be tried and occasionally a really good one would emerge and become a star virtually overnight.

    1. John Gibson says:

      The difference being that teams had about 15 staff and the aero side was so poorly understood that a privateer could experiment with some crude changes to the wing angles, ride height and the like and achieve some decent results every now and again. This simply doesn’t apply today.

  57. Bluehm says:

    Personally I prefer independant teams but the reality is that F1 is ridiciously expensive and a full grid might not be possible unless expenses are cut drastically.

    On the other hand people forget that customer cars (or chassis) wasn’t that uncommon in F1 before.

    If they want to go the ‘customer car’ route I hope for a scenario where each team is still responsible for the main aero design of its car.
    3 components (ERS, engine, gearbox/drivetrain) can be purchased but only a max of 2 from the same supplier. Could be 4 components if certain aeroparts (like DRS) are also made available but still at a max of 2 from one supplier.
    A team would still require a core set of engineers and in this way some ‘smaller’ teams could actually end up with the best of all worlds leading to tougher competition.

    A situation would be prevented where you have teams that run exact Ferrari, Red bull, Macca etc. copies. and ultimately preventing the disaster that Indycar or Champ Car became.

    James, do you think something like that could work?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, or alternatively specify most of the car but allow freedom in some areas to allow teams to innovate there. Especially areas which have relevance to automotive industry and or to society,

      Trouble is this new F1 SG is all about the big guys deciding what’s best for the sport. When push comes to shove they will never vote for anything which dilutes their spending power

  58. for the purists….williams began his career with a customer car!

  59. Freeman says:

    Simple answer is divide the money up more evenly, the rich get richer and everyone else suffers in this sport, not very sporting?

    But I do feel customer car’s could improve the quality of the racing?
    But so could a more even playing field financially!

  60. Goob says:

    When will I get to see a race series which is not oval, doesn’t use DRS overtakes, has high mechanical grip, uses low aero and has high BHP engines. Wider chassis would be nice too.

    Then we could see some real track action… and would not have to boo RBS and Vettel for driving better detla times… zzzzz….

    One thing is for sure, if F1 can be made more boring, the authorities will make it worse.

  61. TimW says:

    as lots of other people have said, the teams should get a bigger slice of the pie. Too much is being syphoned off by cvc, the sport generates a huge amount of cash but it doesn’t stay in the sport. Sauber should have made enough from their strong results last year to build on the success and take another step up this season. Instead they are in severe financial trouble and will have to take 2 pay drivers next year. If the money stayed in the sport, all the teams would be able to build thir own chassis and have enough cash to develop it and pay decent drivers to drive it.

  62. Nick4 says:

    Frank Williams started out in 1969 with a Brabham-Ford and only later in 1972 started racing his own cars that bore his name. During the early 70s Lotus (one of the big names in F1) and March supplied cars to customers. One Rob Walker was a Lotus customer who provided a Lotus to Stirling Moss, no less, in the late 50s and in 1969 a Lotus 49 for Jo Siffert. It seems as though there is precedent in F1 for the vision that F1 Strategy Group has for the sport.

    1. Absolutely, I just cannot understand the ranting and raving. Anyway, I think some middle of the road solution would be all right. Keeping alive good middle-of-the field teams like Force India or Sauber, and enabling small outfits buy customer cars (Caterham or Marussia), at least they would score points!
      Moreover, Mike Andretti has already stated that he would be interested in running such a team. That would be good for everybody.
      As someone has already pointed out here, the first 4 wins of Lotus as a constructor were by Stirling Moss on a Rob Walker’s car!
      It all looks very sensible to me.

      1. Tim says:

        There is a snag with your suggestion of ‘keeping alive good middle-of-the field teams like Force India or Sauber, and enabling small outfits buy customer cars (Caterham or Marussia),at least they would score points!’

        At who’s expense would the new faster Caterham and Marussia score points? They would surely just replace the current good midfielders.
        Without wishing to state the obvious, only ten cars can finish in the top ten!

      2. You certainly have a point there, but it would prevent the certainty that four single seaters will NEVER score a point. (It has almost been 4 years by now).

  63. JohnBt says:

    Finally its crunch time, it had to come sooner or later.

    As a fan I’d still prefer the top, midfield and backmarkers just as F1 has been for the past decades. Somehow it’s just fitting. Remember Senna’s Monaco drive in Toleman?

    I too did like the idea of 3 cars per team as it will certainly give young drivers a great chance of proving themselves but somehow 2 in a team seems more right. But it’ll be great if smaller teams beat the big teams providing the customer cars, then what? It can happen. Look at Red Bull a drink company thrashing Ferrari, Mclaren and so on.

    Whatever, I’m begging for the V10s to come back as the V6 turbo sounds so amateurish!!! Whose idea was it? You all know who’s the culprit. Gosh I just don’t know If I should book my tickets for next year. And from some reports it was said the cars will be 2 to 3 secs slower (James is this true?).

    1. James Allen says:

      Possibly, but we don’t know how fast the tyres will be yet. That could make quite a difference if they durable

  64. Romandy says:

    There is a major impact that no one has really been talking about. What happens to all the staff the smaller teams have for the design and manufacture of their own cars? So many bright and talented people would be out of a job. There must be a better way to bring the overall cost of f1 down

    1. Random 79 says:

      100% correct, but unfortunately right now the people making the decisions are the ones who have the money and influence, which is a no win situation for the smaller teams.

    2. you may recall the statement made by patrick head when quizzed as to why williams were heading for the bottom of the barrel, he said, ‘ it’s not money that is in short supply it’s ideas’ [or words to that effect]

  65. David says:

    Even the super capitalist owners of the NFL realize that subsidizing weaker teams makes for a better product in the end. I think there should be some kind of spending cap that teams can exceed providng they match the overspending into a fund that trickles down to the lower teams. I would like to see smaller teams survive, but they have to get a share of the pie.

  66. Terrordales says:

    Is it just my imagination or do I remember customer teams running in the 1960′s/1970′s even to the extent of them racing the previous years model (Lotus leaps to mind)

    1. You are perfectly right, the last team to race with a customer Lotus was Hector Rebaque’s, in 1978 and 1979.

  67. Paul Gawne says:

    James, Is it not possible to allow customer cars with the rule that they cannot collect constructors championship points due to not being ‘constructors’.

    There could be a separate table for customer teams who would receive a lot less prize money based on where they end up than the constructors due to having much smaller operating costs. This way we can have more teams + more drivers being given an opportunity.

    In all walks of Motorsport there has been customer cars to some degree, even in the not too distant past we had Torro Rosso and Super Aguri buying chassis, they didn’t hurt the spectacle did they?

  68. sure there are many good cases for both arguments but in the end it all comes down to what is best way to move forward. TBH, do we ever see the bottom teams actually racing? not on my TV feed. they are for all intents and purposes invisible and irrelevant. of course they are underfunded in both financial terms as well as in talent. the latter being both in construction and driving areas.

    on the one hand i always want to see innovation and i simply abhor spec racing. creativity in providing engineering solutions must always be the prime objective. customer cars need not infringe that ideal.

    williams is an example whereby they developed the WSG [worlds smallest gearbox] but it only served to soak up their funds as they did not gain any better race results!

    i really don’t know where all this headed but if the recent past is any thing to be used as a gauge then i do not see any vast improvements to the actual racing coming in the future. hopefully i am totally wrong…..

  69. Richard D says:

    I don’t think it is right to say the small and medium sized teams have been excluded. It would be hard to describe Williams as a large team and currently they are labouring well down the grid only just ahead of Caterham and Marussia. The thing that all six team included have in common is that they’ve all won championships, albeit in earlier guises – Mercedes/ Brawn and Lotus/ Renault. No of the excluded teams have ever had a sniff at a championship.

    1. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      So if it was mid-2010, would Red Bull be excluded. What if Toyota were still around?

      The small teams, or poorest performing teams change not only year to year, but even in a season. Force India are now a ‘small’ team with Williams, Marussia and Caterham, after being upper midfield at the start of the year. Sauber were a ‘small’ team at the start but with some nice upgrades, a better exhaust blown rear end, and some tyre changes they are now Q3 regulars.

  70. JCA says:

    I just don’t see how customer teams can be seen as ‘Constructors’. So allow them, but they can only compete for WDC points, and split the prize money, with the majority staying with the WCC, or have them all compete in a additional teams championship, still with the majority of the prize money going towards the WCC.

    In my perfect scenario, the FIA and all willing teams (preferably around six) would buy FOM from CVC (It all rests on debt, anyway, and this ownership construction may actually increase its value through increased stability). The teams who own equity may take part in the WCC, with other customer teams taking part in the aforementioned teams championship. New teams must be able to buy a share from the FIA and the equity teams, proportionally, if they comply to certain requirements.

  71. OffCourse says:

    James, I’m intrigued by your comment “Some of the teams (on the F1 Strategy Group) have grave reservations about the legality of it. There is genuine concern among some of the teams on the Strategy Group, particularly the ones who are public companies. This is not ethical governance.”

    I would of thought that the sport was creating more and more of a bind for Mercedes where concerns at the corporate level had already been raised over their ability to remain in the sport if Bernie was convicted of corruption.

    Do you think any of this is a serious issue for Merc and could it result in them having to flex some muscle?

    1. James Allen says:

      That is Bob Fernley’s comment, not mine

  72. Chris says:

    If customer cars are allowed then they would not be eligible for Constructors world championship points. Providing they could fund it on sponsorship alone then fine.

    Then if for example Williams finished 11 and 12th they could in theory still score constructors points if two cars in front of they are customers. The drivers championship would be for everyone though.

    It could work if you could afford to run a team with reduced income which if you only had to prepare the cars could be done.

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