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.”

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

  1. Gustavo Maia said on 25th October 2013, 19:16

    It’s good for small teams., but terrible to middle teams.
    It’d be a great advantage for good drivers that can’t land a deal with another team. Think of Koba.

  2. prelvu (@prelvu) said on 25th October 2013, 19:39

    Imagine Next year Ferrari and McLaren buy the RedBull car so they can win races too…lol

  3. Johnny Five said on 25th October 2013, 19:59

    I could be cool about this if:
    (a) Teams not designing their own cars (let’s call them non-constructors) don’t compete for the constructor’s Championship. There could be a third title (the Team Championship) open to constructors and non-constructors alike.
    (b) Non-constructors cannot buy their chassis from teams already competing in the constructor’s Championship. They can buy from Lola, Dallara, or whoever, but not from a competitor on the track. This would bring in other manufacturers who are capable of building decent cars, but don’t want the huge costs of running a team all season.
    Naturally this arrangement won’t suit anyone in the paddock, so I figure this must be a perfectly reasonable proposal!

    • Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 25th October 2013, 20:02

      Nice idea :-)

    • TheBass (@) said on 25th October 2013, 20:49

      That doesn’t sound bad, actually.

    • Mouse_Nightshirt (@mouse_nightshirt) said on 25th October 2013, 20:57

      That addresses the spending of the “non-constructor” teams, but doesn’t at all affect the constructors. Take Lotus, their financial position is precarious as it is if word is to be believed, so they could end up disappearing. If Merc have a bad run of seasons, they could equally disappear. The likes of Sauber and Force Indian would still be spending hundreds of millions for no perceivable gain. You’d end up with fewer and fewer “fully-blown” constructors, and what’s the point of having a 3 team championship at the front with a “second class” championship running behind them?

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 25th October 2013, 23:29

        But if Sauber, Lotus, FI , Caterham and Marussia go broke, as seems likely, because of the cost of building a competitive a car what do you have left then ?

      • Johnny Five said on 26th October 2013, 8:17

        Many race series – Le Mans for one – run different competitions for different categories of cars/drivers, side by side on the same racetrack. It works fine for them.

        Time and again, technical regulations have been devised to reign in the performance of the cars, and the engineers figure out newer and smarter ways to get the performance back. I have no doubt that the teams’ financial guys are every bit as ingenious at getting around a spending cap. It would add an extra element to the competition between the top teams, but we’d end up with Alan Sugar as a pundit instead of Ted Kravitz.
        (Now there’s a thought!)

  4. obviously said on 25th October 2013, 20:09

    I’m still confused.

    If Seb is Bernie’s long lost son, but at the same time, he is Marko’s long lost son, then who is a mother and who is a father?
    And then, if Bernie and Horner are having a love affair, is Marko jealous about it for himself, or is he glad for Seb? Come to think of it, with all the needless praising Seb is getting from both Marko and Horner, I think those two are vying for Bernie’s affection and ultimately, a place in the will, by showing him that they like his son more than the other one. Still, I feel Bernie’s hearth says Horner, while Seb’s hearth says Marko?

    Tune in next week and see what happens when Bernie’s fiance realizes Horner’s been in bed with Bernie for the past 4 years!

    All the while, there’s not a word about Roscoe in all of this, so spare a though for poor old Lewis, because Roscoe is getting zero media time.

    • obviously said on 25th October 2013, 20:11

      Obviously, I don’t have to tell you what to make of the term “Bernie’s mouthpiece” when it comes to Horner…

  5. matt90 (@matt90) said on 25th October 2013, 20:34

    I know everybody should be allowed an opinion, blah blah blah… But on this, I’m not sure that the only team on the grid with its own B-team should have their opinion counted. Quite frankly, anything Red Bull and Toro Rosso say on this should be ignored- and not just because the idea would be disappointing and lame anyway.

  6. Strontium (@strontium) said on 25th October 2013, 21:46

    What happens when they use a year old cars after a major regulation shake up? Wouldn’t work at all.

  7. sw280 (@sw280) said on 25th October 2013, 21:53

    Horner’s company provides jobs for hundreds of engineers many of them develop their careers at the smaller teams. It is an insult to his employees, young engineers and the economy in general for him to suggest that this is a good idea. I can only assume that he wants to make money for RBR by selling cars.

    Whilst I am against customer cars, selling a previous year’s CAD and CFD and WT data is something I feel could benefit all parties.

    • TheBass (@) said on 25th October 2013, 23:10

      @sw280

      Horner’s company provides jobs for hundreds of engineers many of them develop their careers at the smaller teams. It is an insult to his employees, young engineers and the economy in general for him to suggest that this is a good idea.

      I don’t like the idea, but the way you’re overdramatizing it is laughable to say the least.

      • sw280 (@sw280) said on 25th October 2013, 23:25

        I don’t think it is an overdramatisation, motorsport is a very valuable industry to the UK’s economy, customer cars could potentially wipe out 1000 jobs in this country. Currently there is widespread unemployment, it would be a shame to add to that when customer cars are unnecessary.

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 25th October 2013, 23:40

          @sw280, what happens to those jobs when teams go broke?

          The real problem is all the money being siphoned out of F1 due to the collusion of the FIA and Bernie.

          • sw280 (@sw280) said on 25th October 2013, 23:56

            It is a good point, teams can go bust, but this is more down to their commercial viability that their ability to develop a car. I believe technical partnerships could streamline the process of creating a competitive car which in turn should produce a more competitive championship in the hope of rejuvenating the commercial viability of each team whilst preserving the industry which the teams are a part of.

  8. Baron (@baron) said on 25th October 2013, 23:52

    How is it different from customer engines? Even engines supplied by a competitive team? Ferrari, Mercedes etc. It’s exactly the same principle.

    I am definitely for the idea if it keeps the competition going. Last years winning car in the hands of a lesser order team is not a given winner now is it, but it would be great if a lesser team with a customer car was able to embarrass the supplier! (McLaren VS Mercedes and all the Renault supplied teams VS Renault for example?).

    As long as the number of customer cars was limited I am definitely for the idea and while you’re at it, allow teams to enter a single car and those with two cars to be able to have different title sponsors for each.

    Just do it. The current set up is too rigid.

  9. soundscape (@soundscape) said on 26th October 2013, 1:41

    I’m relatively new to F1, so maybe I don’t understand the “point” of the formula entirely, but it seems to me like a good idea. If the main contention is that 1 year old cars will render the middle teams noncompetitive (which is completely understandable), then why not restrict the sale of old cars to 2 or 3 years? And if they’re no longer usable (due to new regs, etc.), then so be it?
    It just seems to me like there just isn’t enough money going around to support (read: sustain) 10+ teams in the category.

    • Not enough money, tv time for everybody, or people. It will reduce the cost somehow but at what cost? Don’t get me started.
      Sufice to say the point of the formula started as a driver/car competition, limited by a set of rules to level the playing field, allowing loopholes to seek solutions not contemplated in the formula (not intended by the organizers most of the time), that may increase the competition for the drivers (more fun for them and the public)….then it went to heck from there!
      What we have now is all posible agendas (political, economical, Egos, technological, etc, etc, etc) trying to fit in to this simple premise.
      I hate to see 5 or six solutions to a problem 20 to 22 cars are facing, wich is crossing the finish line before the others.
      I think this proposal will kill it for half the grid. Securing total control of development and regulations control to the Constructors and the promoter, and money will still be a burden for ferrari, mclaren, lotus, specially williams, in money control is the solution to their problem, let all them work on a budget, If you think about it, lotus is better than RBR, they are in dire straits about money, yet their results far exceed what RBR would do with the same financial resources, but on all the other teams, the less money, the better they are doing to get in points, may be they should be awarded points in relation to their finishing position vs their budget, then everybody would start cutting down their costs, and may be a 50 guys team could take team championship versus a 400 guys team. Dream on!

  10. HG (@hg) said on 26th October 2013, 3:56

    The better solution would be that the actually participants who make the cars, have the factories, hire the engineers, design the cars, organize their logistics and at the end of the day participate in the sport, actually received the money that the sport generates, rather than going to some corporate hacks who have nothing to do with it.
    In this magical unicorn-utopian land, the sport would also be organized by a body that was fair, balanced, thoughtful and neutral, and only took a small amount of money out of the sport to run-itself, didn’t treat the fans who aren’t billionaires as gum-stuck on their shoes and was there to serve the sport, and not the reverse.

    I think my old civic has about as much chance as qualifying on pole as this happening.

  11. Patrick (@paeschli) said on 26th October 2013, 4:10

    Maybe it’s because of my bad English but Horner doesn’t say customer cars are a good idea, he just says it’s the most effective way of cutting costs, am I right?

    • Like any good bait, is just sitting there to see if there are takers, he means not to sell it, just throwing it on the table to see who is anxious to get it.

  12. I’m often surprised how good Horner is at lobbying. Honestly he has handled some issues in a way more experienced team directors wouldn’t namely Ross Brown but Horner is much better at lobbying than Brawn, remember that 2003 michelin thing.

  13. DavidS (@davids) said on 26th October 2013, 5:01

    The cost of entering the sport is very high (setting up operations)
    The cost of R&D is very high
    The actual cost of manufacture of the cars is reasonably affordable, once you take out the cost of designing it, and the cost of setting up an operation.

    My idea (and I think it’s probably a bit radical) is to allow top tier teams to sell component designs to second tier teams. Individual component groups (gearbox, front suspension, rear suspension, chassis, a couple of sections of aero etc) are price controlled and a package deal. Second tier teams could pick and choose component groups to build a “frankencar” and they will only have to do the design work on making it work with their packaging, or they may analyse the design to inform their own design if they wish.

    This will massively reduce the engineering burden on second tier teams, but still allow them to construct their own car. It also reduces the likelihood of a back-marker procuring an entire Red Bull design and mixing it with the leaders.

    It might also open up some of the secrecy surrounding the cars. There will be a flow of design expertise from the top tier to the second tier, allowing up and coming engineers the chance to see and work on the design of top level components. Promising engineers will already be familiar with the design of a top team’s component group, so they are more likely to be picked up by a top tier team.

    • Sad to say, that adapting a foreign component to an existing design is a gamble, when you buy off the shelf you buy an expected compatibility and performance, you end up paying more most of the time, believe me I work in a motorcycle shop and that is the case most times, proven adaptations came from many trials, which ended up costing more than your original part would have cost once, plus you would have to open the warehouse to all buyers to pick their preferences, then exposing your advantages to unwanted scrutiny (back markers buying on the downlow for other front runners, then reverse engineering your designs) worst things have been seen already, it could work but then the seller would have to be out of the competition so to offer the same deal to every body (confflict of interest), in f1 means he should sell obsolete designs that may work well on others cars. your idea is good but even in other formulas seldom ever happens with happy results for all (except when there is no conflict of interest, which amounts to aftermarket performance parts)

  14. Prof Kirk (@prof-kirk) said on 26th October 2013, 9:13

    What are our thoughts on three car teams?

    as far as I see, remove one Caterham, replace with another Mercedes car, Remove another Catherham, give Ferrari another car, Remove a Torro Rosso, give Redbull another car…

    More competitive teams duelling it out with an extra contender.
    More in team rivalry.
    Driver market would get shaken up a bit I imagine.
    Imagine a team locking out the whole podium! wowsies!

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