The Welsh Grand Prix Blog

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A change of heart on the new teams…

with 2 comments

So, Mr E reckons that Virgin and HRT are out of their depth, surplus to F1’s requirements and wouldn’t be missed if they drop out, which may happen soon anyway. And I must admit I agree with him.

I was a big supporter of the new teams initiative last year instigated by Mosley. I thought it had potential and that the new teams would be able to cut it (apart from US F1, who were a joke). But after half a season, a year after the initial 3 teams were confirmed, I now believe it was a mistake.

Lotus have been a success story. They’ve got the right people at the helm – specifically Fernandes and Gascoyne who are great ambassadors for the team and for new outfits in general. They’re building a tidy outfit and I think they will go far.

Virgin seem to have drawn the short straw in terms of media attention (Lotus have taken all the British coverage for one), which isn’t good for a team that was relying on PR to justify its existence, and have had numerous niggling problems with their car which means they’re pretty much behind Lotus at this point. Added to that, they don’t seem to be making a great deal of progress. Their future doesn’t look great.

I am increasingly confused about Hispania. They’re starting to remind me of Midland – while Bruno and Karun are lovely guys, I find myself wondering why they’re in F1. Traditionally, minnows are in it for the love of the sport – see Minardi. They have a personality and character. Hispania seem to be going down the classic Kolles path of not having a personality or character. Carabante isn’t it for the love of the sport – I don’t know why he is in it. Their intentions are unclear. As a team, it’s hard to like them. Added to this, they’re in a mess financially and I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t make 2011.

But all 3 of them are still way off the pace. This was to be expected at the start of the year. However, I would have expected them to have made greater progress than they have – as it is, none of them have got anywhere near scoring points yet. And of course they have come into F1 on the promise of being able to do it on a small budget, so they don’t have the money to invest on getting up the grid.

I think it was the wrong approach to take. We all know that Mosley did this for political reasons, but he could have at least done something sustainable. What with Renault rumoured to be in money trouble as well and suspiciously few sponsors adorning the Sauber even after 10 races, you have to wonder if we’ll be back to where we were to start with by 2012.

Surely it would’ve been much better had Mosley gone down the customer car route. Take Virgin, for instance – here is a well-known global brand who want to be a part of F1 but don’t want to spend an enormous amount to join in the fun and be seen on the F1 grid. Surely it would’ve been better for them if Manor, instead of going to Nick Wirth to run some cars designed on a computer that have never seen a windtunnel with the prospect of little testing, went to Mercedes and said “hey, can we have a couple of 2009/2010 cars to run this year?”. They’d have had a much better chance of being successful and would have a proven competitive car – yes, it wouldn’t quite be on the pace of the works team (see MotoGP), but it would be more competitive than what they’ve got now. The same goes for Hispania if Carabante is serious about F1.

As it is, Virgin will probably now walk away from the sport pretty soon, another wasted opportunity for F1. While Virgin Racing doesn’t really add much to the series, Virgin as a brand does, and it would be a shame to lose them. And I’m sure there would be other companies that would be interested if customer cars were an option.

I’ve supported customer cars for a while but now I will completely throw my weight behind the idea. I think the idea of every team building their own cars in F1 is now outdated. It has been proven in other series that it is too expensive to have multiple chassis constructors. While I would never want F1 to become a single chassis formula (I would hope that there would be a minimum of 6 or 7 constructors in the field whatever happens, and that new manufacturers would still enter as constructors), the FIA should take the hint. Not only could F1 have a bigger field with customer cars, but it would be a stronger, more competitive field. After all, no one cared when Toro Rosso won a race that it was a customer Red Bull…

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Written by James Bennett

July 28, 2010 at 20:27

Posted in F1, F1 politics, F1 teams

2 Responses

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  1. If, as you say, building your own cars is too expensive, how are you expecting some to do it and others not? Surely, with the costs coming down (as they are thanks to the recent initiative) further in the next few years, a team like Mclaren will not want to spend all the money it takes to develop a chassis which it then sells on to another when it could have someone else spend the money, buy that chassis, and spend the saving on something else? Surely, if this route is entered into, in a few years time everyone will save the money and run Dallara’s?

    steve turnbull

    July 29, 2010 at 15:25

  2. That is an issue. I should think the way to go would probably be financial incentives to continue to build cars

    What would probably be fairest is to add a teams championship alongside the constructors and add a bit of prize money onto that, but still keep a bigger chunk of the prize money for the constructors

    But this isn’t IndyCar or F3000 so I think there will always be a reasonable number of companies wanting to build their own cars. I think the manufacturers will always be more inclined to build their own cars, or at the very least go to a company like Dallara or Lola, pay them to do it and then buy the naming rights. I know the name on the side is probably more important in terms of exposure, but I think they’d want to be seen to be building their own cars to show off their own expertise, as is the case at the moment

    It wouldn’t surprise me if a couple of the smaller competitive privateers did switch to building their own cars – Force India, for example, who have that deal with McLaren, and maybe Sauber, although it would be a shame to waste those facilities. But I can’t see the likes of Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull and Renault dropping everything just to save money. Williams would probably carry on out of principle as well

    James Bennett

    July 29, 2010 at 16:49


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