Horner urges “open minded” customer cars dialogue

2013 F1 season

Christian Horner, Red Bull, Korea International Circuit, 2013Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says the sport should think seriously about allowing customer cars if it wants to bring costs down.

Speaking in today’s press conference Horner said: “If you look at costs and the cost drivers in Formula One, the necessity to have four or five hundred people in order to even compete is, in all reality, too high”.

“Now if you?re just looking at it from a pure cost point of view, the most logical way to take out a huge amount of cost would be to sell a car or a year-old car in its entirety. Now whether that goes against the grain of what a constructor should be and is in current Formula One is a separate debate.

“But if you are absolutely transfixed on saving costs, it is, without a shadow of a doubt the most effective way to reduce costs. Whether it?s the right thing to do is obviously another questions. Inevitably there is going to be a lot of debate about it and it?s something that, as a sport, we need to be open-minded to.”

Several teams are opposed to allowing the sale of chassis to other teams as it could render them uncompetitive. Force India co-owner Vijay Mallya said his team were “completely opposed to even the concept of customers cars”.

“What happens to the smaller teams that have factories, that employ hundreds of people and who are effectively running companies?” Mallya asked.

“You can?t just discard everything and just buy a one-year old car from an established team and go motor racing. I think that affects the total DNA of Formula One from the day it was started.”

Mallya said it was “ridiculous” to try to sell customer cars as a cost-cutting measure when FOTA’s attempt to reduce costs had been scuppered by the withdrawal of support from the top teams.

Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn endorsed Mallya’s view, saying: “Sauber?s been in motorsport now for more than 40 years and our core business is making race cars in different series, so we are absolutely against this concept of a customer car because we?re ruining our own business here.”

Kaltenborn argued there were more effective ways of controlling costs and doing do by introducing customer cars could make the sport more vulnerable:

“You might have four teams in there that are capable of putting in that much money, but at some point in time ?ǣ they are all in there to win ?ǣ when they don?t do that and maybe just end up with a few points they leave the sport as well. So it?s a very dangerous route to go down.”

2013 F1 season


Browse all 2013 F1 season articles

Image ?? Red Bull/Getty

Advert | Go Ad-free

99 comments on Horner urges “open minded” customer cars dialogue

  1. TheBass (@) said on 25th October 2013, 17:17

    I agree with Mallya and Kaltenborn, it’s a stupid idea.

    • zeuss20 said on 25th October 2013, 18:33

      I agree also with Kaltenbourn and Mallya, if you allow customer cars, then what’s the point of F1 , which is supposedly where you design and build and race Grand Prix cars

      • Even more so is this:

        Mallya said it was “ridiculous” to try to sell customer cars as a cost-cutting measure when FOTA’s attempt to reduce costs had been scuppered by the withdrawal of support from the top teams.

        Gah. The cynicism of Bernie Ecclestone, CVC, FOM, and the vileness of Horner, who’s serving as Bernie’s mouthpiece, is nauseating. This customer car support from Horner actually might make one think that the aforementioned want one of the current 11 operations to fold and maybe are even doing everything in their considerable (financial) power to bring about such a situation.

        That would leave F1 with an easily manageable 10 teams, permitting them to split the grid into five A and five B teams to further reduce $$$ payouts, boosting profits even further. It’s all about the money, guys… The sport of F1 is being destroyed by the greed of private equity.

        • that is also swipe at horner, as whole RRA collapsed coz of redbull

          • @f1007 a simple cost cap was never going to work though.

          • @vettel1 true i don’t believe in cost cutting in f1, i was just pointing out the obvious.

          • @vettel1 yeah you’re right, a cost cap would never work when unprincipled people like Christian Horner and the RBR would seek to subvert it by any and all means.

            Newsflash: a budget cap, however, will work if those who agree to abide by it actually do.

          • @joepa that’s the point though: how do you police that? Of course they are going to take every advantage they can get – it’s completely naive to think otherwise.

            Also, take Ferrari for example. They have a road car development area and an engine manufacture area. They could simply say they are investing money into that, which “coincidentally” helped their F1 efforts.

            A cost cap in it’s basic form would never work in practice IMO.

          • @vettel1 redbull were fine with RRA till they were caught violating it, when asked about it they put that ferrari theory forward, in fairness is a good one and also hilarious, is like saying “i stole coz police did not catch anyone, there is chance of others doing the same”.

          • @vettel1 – if you really are curious how cost-cutting could’ve succeeded (and why it didn’t), and you’re not just trolling us, then read ex-Williams team boss Adam Parr’s book “The Art of War” in which he explains in intelligible detail what FOTA attempted to do, how it would’ve worked – and saved teams 10s of millions of euros/dollars in crazy expenses – but also why it didn’t (hint: it was subverted by those w/ interests in unrestricted spending b/c of the enormous resources they had access to).

            and like @f1007 points out, if you agree to something and willfully violate it, that’s not the fault of the agreement – that’s the fault of you for being an unethical, cheating ********! And I’ll again refer back to Parr’s book, in which he explains the mechanism for enforcement that had been conceived and which would’ve been ideal, had it been implemented and not subverted. I don’t accept the idea that b/c everyone will cheat, we should simply be OK with that, which you do seem to favor – perhaps why vettel is your fav’, eh?

          • @joepa

            I don’t accept the idea that b/c everyone will cheat, we should simply be OK with that, which you do seem to favor – perhaps why vettel is your fav’, eh?

            I can’t take your comment seriously now that you have said that.

            I support Vettel, but I don’t support Red Bull to such levels that I would go against the sport to satisfy them. That’s a ludicrous proposition.

            I think absolutely that teams should have their budgets restricted, and if you had followed my activity on the issue you would see that I fully support cost reduction. I have always maintained that a cost cap simply would not work though: the teams could not be trusted to refrain from “hiding” their expenditure in sub-companies, as Red Bull had been doing with RBT. Also, you have to factor in technical partnerships and engine deals: Sauber have to pay for theirs, Ferrari don’t. Force India have to pay over and above for McLaren’s wind tunnel use, McLaren themselves of course don’t.

            Trust me, I would love to see a simplistic approach taken – you are allowed €50m per season, build the best car you can. But I fear that is simply not viable – too much FIA policing would be required, which would undo the work of the cost cap.

            What is a much more sensible idea is to find a way to restrict the amount of R&D (by far the biggest expense for an F1 team) that the teams can do. How exactly? Well I’m sure you are better placed to answer that question having read so intently Adam Parr’s book!

    • Strontium (@strontium) said on 25th October 2013, 19:39

      Yes. And I’ve just read the article about Mallya’s comments saying they will make the right decisions, and already he is being let down… by Horner

    • Marc Saunders said on 26th October 2013, 3:40

      To think in reducing costs and keep people in their employments simultaneously is stupid too. The personal wages are the highest cost sector in the F1. If you want many people having good jobs, just keep doing what actually is being done and instead try to get more sponsors to cover the costs. Horner is right. The only effective way (although painful) to reduce (developing) costs is to share them in many vehicles.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 26th October 2013, 6:33

      me too. Just imagine that customer cars had been possible. Surely Red Bull would have then just bought a McLaren or Ferrari or a Williams when they bought Jaguar, and never had invested in the RB technical and Newey. That would have made them race winners, but there’s no way it could have become as good as they are now. Or we would have the top 4-6 running Red Bulls now, making it cheaper only for Red Bull because they could spread their investment.

  2. Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 25th October 2013, 17:20

    It’s a stupid idea for most except Red Bull/Toro Rosso. Maybe Marussia and Caterham would also not be opposed.

    • Jack (@jmc200) said on 25th October 2013, 18:41

      Marrusia are, I respect them for that.

      • Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 25th October 2013, 18:51

        I’m really starting to like Marussia :-)

        • FOM/CVC and their allies at Red Bull are trying to destroy Marussia. In fact, it was only once informal enquiries were made to the EU competition commission that the open (financial) war against Marussia was halted (though still no equitable deal).

          And Marussia? It doesn’t even have an equitable deal, although one hears that a bit of sabre-rattling – for which read threats of a European Commission anti-trust complaint – is said to have worked wonders. In fact, according to a recent report in Sport Business International, the EU is already investigating certain clauses contained in the race, team and broadcaster agreements held by FOG.

  3. caci99 (@caci99) said on 25th October 2013, 17:48

    It sounds like a dangerous idea. It might give the bigger teams even more power to control the sport. These big teams will have more many or more mileage for testing, while the smaller ones will be on the same level of spending or less space for developing the cars they are buying.

  4. frogster said on 25th October 2013, 17:56

    Customer cars ?

    Simply NO, NO, NO and NO again.

  5. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 25th October 2013, 17:57

    Customer cars, yeah?

    How would Red Bull afford to design and build 4 cars intead of just 2, and sell them as appropiate competitive machines to another team? I don’t see how that’d work on either outfit

  6. Marcel Doyon (@mertadopan) said on 25th October 2013, 18:00

    I’m not sure how to define the concept of “customer cars”. Can someone please explain?

    • Michael (@dedischado) said on 25th October 2013, 18:13

      Generally, customer cars are those bought for a team instead of the team developing a car on their own. For example, there were many customer Lotus, March, and Arrows (I think) cars in the 60′s and 70′s. For a more modern example, many spec series such as GP2 and IndyCar are effectively all customer cars, as the manufacturer does not compete with a works team.

    • Juzh (@juzh) said on 25th October 2013, 18:21

      Scenario: Red bull builds and sells 2 additional RB9 cars for returning HRT team who then uses it to destroy ferrari/merc/lotus…

      • I’m pretty sure they would only be able to sell the previous year’s design not the current car.

        • OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 25th October 2013, 20:54

          @joepa not thet they couldn’t sell the current year’s car, but that they wouldn’t want to. Or even worse. They can create a “Top car” for themselves, and a customer car with slightly different aero packages in order to have them away as competitors.

          • @omarr-pepper – i don’t have it in front of me, but I honestly think that the way such a system was envisioned by those F1 team principals who supported it was to sell the previous season’s technology. Could be wrong though. I’ll have to check when I get a chance. Anyway, cheers!

  7. I don’t think customer cars are a good idea: sure, they will inevitably reduce costs, but it will only lead to the teams building the cars deliberately “leaving things out” to protect their performance advantage. Also, I would actually rather have less teams knowing they all built their own cars and have an equal opportunity in theory, rather than not to both.

    • Nick (@nick-uk) said on 25th October 2013, 18:19

      Yeah I agree about prefering less teams but who all built their cars. I mean what is the point in saying you are competing if you didn’t even build your own car? It completely negates any credibility in the constructors championship. Take the 2011/2012 yeas for example – on the basis Red Bull sell their 2011 car to Torro Rosso in 2012 (no doubt you can already see where I’m going with this). Red Bull win the constructors in 2012, Torro Rosso come in a top 4 position, at least, having run a customer car – a finishing position far exceeding what they would achieve on their own…. congratualtions you bought a finishing position. On top of this, it allows Red Bull to steal points off McLaren/Ferrari/Mercedes/Lotus more easily by slotting in some good results with a Torro Rosso.

      We never stop hearing about how F1 wants to cut costs, but do they? Clearly not. Nothing ever gets done. If anyone over at F1 management had any genuine interest in cutting costs they’d set about axing a dozen races off the calendar each year; doing so would instantly save teams vast amounts of money. Instantly cutting thousands of air miles off each year would also have a massive positive effect on the whole “we’re a green sport” tag line F1 is trying to pedle – which currently is total nonsene anyway as they’re efforts to be green are more damaging to the environment than before they ‘cared’.

      Anyway, I’m becoming lost in a rant about something else, so I’ll stop now haha.

      • Take the 2011/2012 yeas for example – on the basis Red Bull sell their 2011 car to Torro Rosso in 2012 (no doubt you can already see where I’m going with this). Red Bull win the constructors in 2012, Torro Rosso come in a top 4 position, at least, having run a customer car – a finishing position far exceeding what they would achieve on their own…. congratualtions you bought a finishing position. On top of this, it allows Red Bull to steal points off McLaren/Ferrari/Mercedes/Lotus more easily by slotting in some good results with a Torro Rosso.

        Completely agreed @nick-uk – it would reduce the credibility of the sporting aspect I would say, and ironically would make it more of a spending war in that scenario! Silly idea really: the best way to reduce costs would be to cap the amount of R&D they can do in a season.

    • Robbie said on 26th October 2013, 4:26

      While I agree with some of the negatives to customer cars such as how it would affect the Constructors race, I don’t know that it need be quite as unthinkable as some feel.

      I don’t think customers would be surprised nor disappointed if the deal was that they get a ‘basic package’ for which they can buy upgrades at their own financial pace, and yes, likely not beat the primary team, but allowed the ability to ply their own team to the car to do with as they please to help themselves beyond the components supplied by the sellers.

      So the sellers get major revenues, the buyers save a ton and can buy upgrades ready to bolt on, and can at any time do their own thing to develop the car as they see fit. And they ultimately are much more competitive than they would have been, for way less.

      Not saying I necessarily agree with the concept, but I think it has at least some merit. But I also wouldn’t want to see an abundance of politics going on out on the track either. Several series consist of a portion of customer cars and they make it work. Eg. Lemans.

  8. Bodice said on 25th October 2013, 18:00

    To be honest, I can only see this as a political move.
    I’m not sure Red Bull care about the sport. They sold out first, when they could have helped all the teams if they stayed united. They were the first ones to leave FOTA for Bernie, with Ferrari leaving to cover their own position. This could be in support of Bernie, in relation to the word of ‘Red Bull Formula 1 Championship’.

    I believe that an Autosport article made a comment on proposed budget caps. The strategy group meeting supposedly discussed budget caps that ‘coincidentally’ match what Red Bull state to be their own.

  9. Michael (@dedischado) said on 25th October 2013, 18:17

    One idea for the smaller teams would be to allow customer cars by manufacturers that do not compete. I know Lola makes all the IndyCar chassis’ and I believe that with a year or two of lead time, others could make competitive chassis.

  10. ayrtonx1 said on 25th October 2013, 18:27

    Dallara makes indycars

  11. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 25th October 2013, 18:43

    I wonder why people are opposed to customer cars. Pre 2009, Toro Rossos were year old RB,s. Also Super Aguri used old f1 chassis and I seem to remember that they were quite popular as a team.

    • Strontium (@strontium) said on 25th October 2013, 21:45

      2010 HRT was Dallara. Can’t say that was very good.

      If we had the current Toro Rossos as Red Bulls they would finish 2nd every year.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 25th October 2013, 23:06

      Customer cars were common in the early years of F1, that is how “pay drivers” raced before teams felt the need for cash over quality, Enzo Ferarri among others was an enthusiastic supplier of customer cars, the customer got last years car but had to set it up and develop it themselves, hardly a threat to the top teams but capable of good midfield racing. The 1st. Torro Rosso was basically a customer car, Red Bull chassis/Ferarri engine, a good car but it didn’t destroy the opposition and I seem to remember they had a fairly decent driver.
      I don’t see the problem given some sensible regulations like teams only supplying 2 customer cars per season, no duplicate sponsorship etc.

  12. DerekMurray said on 25th October 2013, 18:52

    “I think that affects the total DNA of Formula One from the day it was started.”

    Sorry to burst your bubble Vijay, but people were buyingh cars in the 50′s and the 60′s all the time. Some of Stirling Moss’s most famous accomplishments came in customer cars.

  13. Dizzy said on 25th October 2013, 18:53

    Im torn on the idea of customer cars to be honest.

    I agree with the view put forward by Monisha Kaltenbourn & Vijay Mallya regarding the effect customer cars would have on Mid/Back of grid teams who have the facilities/staff to build there own cars who would be hurt if we had the option of entry’s simply coming in & buying Customer cars from the top teams.

    However on the other hand I remember when customer cars were commonplace in F1 in the 60s/70s & how the option of entering with a customer car helped both teams & drivers get on the grid when they otherwise would not have been able to.

    • Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 25th October 2013, 19:04

      The way round this would be to give them a basic chassis, no frills.

      • Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 25th October 2013, 19:07

        Also make a rule that they can also use customer chassis for so long before they have to produce their own. Teams in the 1970s did this, a year or two with a march chassis then make their own.

        • I posted this on F1B about 6 months ago when the topic came up over there.

          While I’m against the idea of customer cars I do think there is a way instituted them in an intelligent manner.

          My idea was to limit the number of seasons a team could use a customer car ex: 3 seasons and after that the teams would be required to develop their own chassis. As for the chassis provider I think if it were limited to teams who finished outside the top five of the previous season, then teams such as Williams or Sauber could sell chassis to the smaller teams, this could reduce costs for both the midfield as well as the backmarkers while preventing the small teams from dominating the midfield by buying a chassis from a front runner like Ferrari. Additionally the chassis provider could be limited to supplying a chassis to only one customer team to prevent the back of the field from become a one make series.

        • @full-throttle-f1 that’s a good idea: use it to allow new teams to break in.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 25th October 2013, 23:16

      Quite right Dizzy, and what would be better; teams like Lotus, FI and Sauber going broke, as they seem on the verge of doing, or spending several seasons racing and modifying a chassis from RBR, Ferrari, Mercedes or even McLaren?

  14. pastaman (@pastaman) said on 25th October 2013, 18:59

    How about this: A 3rd party (or maybe the winner of previous season) develops the base chassis each year. Every team gets the same chassis for pre-season testing but is then able to modify the car within regulation for the rest of the season?

  15. spoutnik (@spoutnik) said on 25th October 2013, 19:00

    Nonsense, midfield players like Force India and Sauber would be badly hurt by RB-powered Caterhams and Marussias. They failed with the 3 cars by team idea so they come with this…

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.