Formula 1 as a spec series

Posted on | Author Scott Newton

Sebastien Bourdais, David Coulthard, Takuma Sato, Kazuki Nakajima, Bahrain, 2008, 470150

Yesterday I considered what would happen to Formula 1 if the economic crisis caused teams to leave the sport. Before I wrote that reader Scott Newton had sent in his thoughts on how F1 could work with just a few manufacturers supplying all the chassis.

My idea stems from the concern that customer cars will turn F1 into a spec series (with everyone driving either Ferraris, McLarens or BMWs).

What if we only allowed constructors to supply customer chassis depending on where they finished in the constructors’ championship?

For example:

  • First – third place constructors: No customer cars allowed
  • Fourth – sixth place constructors: Each team in these positions is allowed one customer team
  • Sixth place ore lower: Can supply as many customer teams as they like.

Taking the 2007 championship as an example this would mean that:

  • Nobody but Ferrari, BMW & Renault would be driving Ferrari, BMW or Renault cars.
  • Williams, Red Bull & Toyota would each be allowed one customer team.
  • Toro Rosso would not be allowed a customer team (they’re Red Bull’s customer team).
  • Honda could have as many customer teams as they like (allowing them to bring back Super Aguri).
  • Force India and McLaren would be allowed unlimited customer teams.

This could also effectively help control dynasties. If Williams were allowed to share development (and testing) with a customer team, they could use it to their advantage to topple a top 3 team. Of course, once they do this, their customer team would need to forfeit their Williams chassis, but could pick up chassis from the new 4th place team.

It gives advantages to constructor teams, as the only way to effectively be a top 3 team is to be an outright constructor. A customer team could feasibly win the championship, but they would be chassis-less the following year (as their constructor would then be banned from having customer teams), and would need to start all over as a customer for a different constructor.

Problems?

Possible downsides would be sandbagging. A team could try to forfeit 3rd place and retain 4th place so that it could maintain constructor/customer status the following year. This could easily be defeated by making 3rd place pay enough to make it not worthwhile.

Another downside is issues like McLaren’s current eleventh place status. This could be avoided by disallowing excluded teams from entering a constructor/customer status. This would also place a larger penalty on exclusion.

The third downside is the uncertainty this creates for customer teams. Nobody will want to invest millions of dollars into a customer relationship, only to have the fear of loosing your constructor the following year.

This could be tackled in a few ways, one of which is to allow constructor’s in a constructor/customer relationship a one year ‘grace period’, where they would be allowed to continue as a parent constructor, even after finishing in a position which would normally disallow them.

What do you think of Scott’s proposal? If you want to write a guest article for F1 Fanatic see the information for guest writers here.