Whitmarsh: Three-car teams “wrong” for F1

2011 F1 season

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren, 2011

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren, 2011

Martin Whitmarsh says introducing three-car teams would be “the wrong solution” for F1.

The McLaren team principal said F1 teams must stick to their cost-cutting plans for the good of the sport.

The Formula 1 Teams Association will debate the future of its Resource Restriction Agreement in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

Speaking in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in, Whitmarsh said cost containment is as high a priority now as it was when the RRA was introduced:

“The statistics that I live by are the ones since McLaren entered Formula 1 it’s been quite moderately successful, winning a quarter of the races and on the podium for more than half of them.

“During that team 101 teams have disappeared from the sport. I think that really demonstrates the volatility of the sport.

“We have in the last few years evolved from being a sub-set of the automotive sector, being pretty well back to a more pure Formula 1 set of business.

“I think we shouldn’t underestimate how tough it is for the smaller teams. It’s fine for perhaps some of the bigger teams, who feel quite confident about their future, but the fact is we need ten or twelve teams in the sport to race against.

“I personally think that going to generate grid size with three-car teams – I understand why some people are attracted to that, if it was necessary it has some interest to McLaren – but I think for Formula 1 it’s the wrong solution.

“Formula 1 requires the diversity of entry. I think we therefore have to work hard to endeavour to ensure that there are sustainable business models for all of the teams that are in Formula 1.”

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has repeatedly urged the sport to increase team sizes from two cars to three.

Whitmarsh played down recent comments from di Montezemolo suggesting Ferrari could leave F1 if restrictions on car development are not lifted:

“In fairness to Luca, I think Luca’s an extremely charismatic figure within Ferrari, within Italy and within motorsport.

“I know how off-the-cuff comments can be construed and amplified. I think he is passionate about Formula 1, I think he’s very proud of Ferrari’s history and heritage, and he will inevitably push with great passion his personal opinions and views.

“I think in my day-to-day business Formula 1 is much better when the teams and the governing body work together to design regulations.”

Whitmarsh stressed that F1 teams should continue to work together to improve F1:

“We’ve had some great races in the last two years. I think we should be very proud of that, and that’s been achieved by the teams working together with the FIA to develop sporting and technical regulations to achieve those ends.”

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58 comments on Whitmarsh: Three-car teams “wrong” for F1

  1. Bobdredds (@bobdredds) said on 9th November 2011, 19:09

    I don’t see the problem with running a third car or third chassis in reality. Engines, gearboxes, kers etc are already sold to the teams so why no the chassis. It would help the knowledge of chassis design get distributed amongst the smaller teams. As long as the constructors points went to the team running the car it would be fine by me. The arguments against them could be applied to other areas of the car so why single out the chassis. Martin Whitmarsh is against the idea on constructor grounds but that only highlights the fact that they are only chassis constructors and not engine manufacturers, at least not yet.:) It works well in other series and could be a major improvement putting better machinery in the hands of smaller teams who at the moment only figure in Q1 and put pressure on teams who are comfortably dominating qualifying. It also allows new drivers to experience proper technology from the outset. It could be great for F1 IMHO.

  2. I think one car teams would be better, Private one car teams. and perhaps these one man teams would be allowed to test more/or have an extra hour practice on fri (like 2003). and have other restrictions limited like CRT in moto gp.

    And perhaps these one car teams would be allowed to buy bits from other teams, like gearbox/suspensions/engines to get them going but not chassis as that for me has to remain by the team.

    Someone like Rubens/villeneuve could perhaps muster up enough sponsorship to enter a one man team and with his experience it might stand a chance. Like Graham Hill did. It would cut some of the expense and would add an extra element to the sport.

    3 car teams would just destroy any new entries. how would they compete if red bull, mclaren, ferrari and merc take up the first 12 positions?

  3. HRT Fan said on 9th November 2011, 22:15

    Three car teams would destroy F1, you would be left with four or five teams running three cars each. Ferrari is obsessed with the idea. Ferrari should be putting all their efforts into making the two cars they currently have go faster instead of wasting everyone’s time on this third car idea.

    If Ferrari want to run Jules Bianchi (who by the way has only one career victory in his entire GP2 career) they can buy him a drive in a lower team to gain experience like Red Bull have done with Ricciardo at HRT this season.

    • Bobdredds (@bobdredds) said on 9th November 2011, 22:58

      Allowing another team to run a third car for a top team is not the same as running 3 cars at least as I see it. It could be easily controled as is engine and gearbox distribution throughout the field. Who can share a third car could be restricted by rules such as “only the top 3 teams in any given season can provide a third chassis and only the bottom 3 teams could avail of it” . That could spice things up a bit and prevent long term relationship or influence being an issue. Although there are close relationships such as Red Bull/Toro Rosso and Ferrari/Sauber in F1 they dont seem to be a problem because the boundries are clear.
      As for Jules Bianchi, he has nothing got to do with this issue and if he and Ferrari have found a future plan together then fair play to them. He has plenty of time to prove himself and then we will see who is right.

    • rubin (@almanac) said on 11th November 2011, 0:19

      and we won’t see an hrt fan in this site anymore

  4. Bobdredds (@bobdredds) said on 9th November 2011, 22:43

    Ok, I wouldn’t be for any team running 3 cars per se, I would want the third car to be wholey under the team that raced it and the points, constructor or driver regardless would stay with that team. The way I see it percieved here is that Ferrari want to add a third car to their team and benefit from the constructor points or have a major say in the way it is run. That I would be against. However it is the chassis that is making all the advances these days and there are only 4 0r 5 teams capable of building a championship winning car at any given moment. So based on that at least 7 teams could stay at home and the top of the field would hardly notice. Or care! Filling up the ranks to make it look like a full competitive field is what we have today and that situation could be improved on with a customer chassis. It would need to have certain restrictions in place of course but it would put better equipment in the hands of upcoming teams and drivers. There is an argument that it would comprimise the independence of teams but there are engines and other components being provided to smaller tems at the moment and I doubt adding a chassis to the mix would be any different. Wouldn’t t be good to see smaller teams utilise their strengths such as upandcoming drivers and engineers with better equipment and beating the grandee teams?

  5. AlonsoWDC (@alonsowdc) said on 9th November 2011, 23:50

    It’s never happening and we can ridicule Montezemelo as far as the day is long. That much we know but it’s funny sometimes to think, let’s just accept xyz for a minute and contemplate what it would mean.

    Me? I’m reminded of the infamous Shield moment when Mackey lets the prostitute aware of her pecking order – You’re [his] b****. [He's] my b****. So that makes you my bottom b****.

  6. F1Yankee (@f1yankee) said on 10th November 2011, 0:38

    more fodder for the conspiracy wingnuts. i’m pretty sure enzo ferrari shot jfk, too.

    of course 3-car teams won’t work in today’s f1. i think it’s ldm asking for too much and then getting what he really wants – customer cars. and, it really is the best solution. whitmarsh all but says it out loud:

    “I think we shouldn’t underestimate how tough it is for the smaller teams. It’s fine for perhaps some of the bigger teams, who feel quite confident about their future, but the fact is we need ten or twelve teams in the sport to race against.

    “I personally think that going to generate grid size with three-car teams – I understand why some people are attracted to that, if it was necessary it has some interest to McLaren – but I think for Formula 1 it’s the wrong solution.

    half a dozen teams with good cars and idle production capacity, and half a dozen that can barely sustain 2 cars per year. the answer is staring us right in the face.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 10th November 2011, 7:45

      but the second half a dozen would be entirely reliant on the first half a dozen to give/sell them the cars (Giving us TO, bound voting rights, and teams with too little skills to manage on their own). Meaning they would not be real teams, just seperate racing organisations.

      I think the teams are buying/renting some of those capacities already, and the big teams can use the capacities to do other things, diversifying into a wider range of activities and ensuring bright ideas get used / cause an offspin in other industries (even if they can’t be used in F1 for its rule limits), something that also enables to attrackt the brightest minds to get in.
      Thereby making F1 more healthy and stable altogether

      • F1Yankee (@f1yankee) said on 10th November 2011, 8:35

        but the second half a dozen would be entirely reliant on the first half a dozen to give/sell them the cars

        that’s the usual relationship between buyers and sellers

        (Giving us TO, bound voting rights, and teams with too little skills to manage on their own)

        team orders has been part of motorsport since day 1. perhaps earlier. never mind practically every sport on the planet. nobody cries when their favorite team does it. let’s just stop the nonsense.

        if bound voting means what i think it means, who cares? a team will act in what it believes is its best interest. how would that be any different to how things always have been?

        as for teams with too little skills, we’ve had that for decades, and we still do. what they need is to focus on racecraft and not re-inventing the $100 million wheel.

        Meaning they would not be real teams, just seperate racing organisations.

        of course they’re real race teams. what they are not is manufacturers. that’s perfectly fine. some of motorsport’s (and grand prix/f1 specifically) greatest history is woven with works and customer teams. there was 1 guy that went from works driver/manager to customer team to founding his own manufacturer and works teams, as well as a successful road car company.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 10th November 2011, 9:07

          I really see it quite differently @f1yankee, having a

          usual relationship between buyers and sellers

          would only work in an open market, which F1 can never be.

          In the closed confines of F1 it becomes an oligopoly with a few powerfull players dictating their views and serve their interests only. This will be only amplified by these big teams efectively executing voting rights for all teams reliant on them.

          As for Team Orders, they might have been and might be part of just about every sport we can imagine. That does not mean that anyone has to like that or condone it. And your

          nobody cries when their favorite team does it. let’s just stop the nonsense.

          is defenitely not true for me (and according to comments and voting on earlier articles on F1F to many other fans neither).

          For me Germany 2010 was a reason to see my liking of Ferrari dropped considerately after they had been gaining respect by me in the past few years.
          And Red Bull using TO (who can seriously believe they didn’t) lowered my respect for them as a racing team considerately.

          Using 3 car teams just means that even the 3rd fastest team has hardly a chance of getting onto the podium in F1. Weakening everyone but those right at the front.
          For a comparison, just look at what 3 car teams did in an environment where its not even about car development – NASCAR.
          The big teams there have a lot of cars, sponsors got in with them and this has really weakened the midfield/back of the field recently for lack of sponsorship.

          I do know that Ferrari, Williams, McLaren and Chapman all started their teams running customer cars, before building their own cars and building their company.
          But that was a quite different era, where there was no such thing as voting rights in either the technical rules nor was there any serious TV and track money, nor as big vested interests.
          We can all look at the glory days of yonder, but the reality is, that the world is now different, budgets are different and technology is on a whole different level.

          A team without a skilled group of engineers who understand their car and are able to work on it to improve its bits will always stay dependant on the one selling them a package, because there will just not be money left to start doing their own car.
          It would mean any customer team outfit would be relatively short lived, as there are no big investments needed, enabling easy entry, but also making a fast exit without much risks.

          Instead it makes far more sense to hire Windtunnel and simulator capacities that are available, buy a complete gearbox, engine and KERS unit with hydraulics attached (to sort out 80-90% of technical troubles with reinventing the wheel) and concentrate on building a nifty chassis to go with it and know where you are heading for long term success in the sport.

  7. Bobdredds (@bobdredds) said on 10th November 2011, 0:47

    To riducle anybody simply displays a flaw in ourselves no matter what excuse we use to justify it. Today people think its cool or justified to say what they like about people from their lofty secure positions behind their keyboards but they would never say the same to that persons face. I accept that it is people are still learning to communicate in this great new world of instant access to everyone and everything and have yet to remember their manners.
    Luca cares little about that nonsense and it only clouds issues in discussions as sooner or later somebody gets upset, believe me I know and have been as guilty of this until I copped on.
    People should remember that without Luca, Max would have gotten his way and where would F1 be today if he did. I would rather Whitmarsh was more vocal regarding the BBC/Sky fiasco looming next year than running a third car.
    The idea of a third car seems to be viewed only in the narrowest of contexts and while some presentations of this are completely unacceptable, others could have a lot of positives attached. I was against
    using a common Ecu, especially a McLaren manufactured one(I still am) but it hasn’t caused any major issues so my objection is irrelevant(Of course I dont think this).
    If the top 3 teams in a given season were allowed to provide a 3rd car to the bottom 3 teams and were restricted in what they demand from those teams I dont see why it would be a problem. It would mean that new drivers would have a greater opportuinity in better equipment. It would also add value to the back of the grid and allow them to attract a better quality of driver. They would also have a better chance of scoring points, and points equals money, as well as being more attractive to sponsors.
    Already top teams use their technical agreements to place up and coming drivers and give them track time and it hasn’t caused a problem so why would adding the chassis to the mix be such a big deal. The smaller teams could only benefit from the knowledge they would gain and if they earned more money from it it would help them progress up the grid where they could apply what they learned.
    Every driver wants to win and when the lights go out thats all that matters until the chequered flag. It’s the same for fans, there are no forum discussions during the race. While the top of the grid are running close to the maximum the regulations allow, the far end of the grid seem to be wallowing in an almost hopless task to raise their game. This could be a way to make the racing even closer and help those positions.
    Red Bull and McLaren have the best positions in that they can put any engine they can afford in their cars with the exception that McLaren blocked Mercedes from supplying Red Bull. With Red Bull having the best chassis it is no wonder they dont want their secrets dissapated throughout the grid. McLaren would seem to be equally protective.
    I dont see why it couldn’t be tried for a season as with KERS,(which I like) or Drs(which I think is an abomination and the same could be acchieved with tyre compounds and KERS). After putting up with the stupid tyre rule of 2005 I’m sure nothing could be as bad so why not give it a shot for a season.

  8. Squib said on 10th November 2011, 4:07

    I, for one, do not want three cars per team for two reasons.

    1, The competitive element between the intra-team contest is heightened when there’s only TWO drivers. Simply put, because there is ONE winner…and ONE loser!!
    2, With potentially 36 cars on the grid, traffic would be horrendous!! It already is at the moment – especially in qualifying. It would also mean 3 more sub par cars on the grid: i.e. Lotus, Virgin and HRT. I find their presence annoying enough as it is (I know I’m in the minority saying this) and I find them to be simply a ‘pain in the ass’ and ‘moving roadblocks’ when the big boys are having their exciting wheel to wheel action.

    Following on from my backmarkers remark, I would like a maximum of 10 teams!! Two cars, 10 teams, 20 cars on the grid. Nice, even and round numbers! Hell, the crappy teams can pool their funds and make one better team for all I care. They’ll then have more money for R&D and manufacturing, logistics etc. have better cars and stop being the annoying backmarkers they are, at 5-7 seconds per lap slower than the ones that count!!

    So, I agree with Whitmarsh and disagree with Montezemolo on this point but I do agree with Montezemolo on the reintroduction of mid-season testing and a relaxation of the RRA so that the teams can build the best, fastest and exciting cars they possibly can!!

  9. W-K (@w-k) said on 10th November 2011, 4:07

    Maybe Luca wans lots more races like this;
    http://www.formula1.com/results/season/1958/678/

    3 Ferrari’s
    6 Masserati’s
    1 Cooper-Climax

    Without looking you can guess which make won.

  10. gzegzolek (@gzegzolek) said on 10th November 2011, 7:32

    3 cars idea is good because today we have Red Bull and Ferrari conected with Torro Rosso.
    McLaren has it connection to Force India and this is hypocrisy of everyone who is against, because instead of two cars they hava four.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 10th November 2011, 13:38

      @gzegzolek That’s not really the case though, is it? Assuming you mean engines, McLaren and Force India are linked via the Mercedes-Benz HPE.

      Different teams extract different performance. The last two races have seen STR fly through the speed traps with Ferrari really nowhere near.

      If you’re going to that extreme, you could say all the teams are effectively racing as McLaren as they all use their ECU.

  11. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 10th November 2011, 13:45

    Sensible statement from Whitmarsh.

    At least him and Brawn have got their heads screwed on this week!

  12. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 11th November 2011, 15:39

    How will having 36 cars work in F1?

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