Three-car teams preferred to customer cars

2013 Brazilian Grand Prix

Modern F1 Ferraris at the Finali MondialiFormula One teams could run three cars each instead of two, but only to shore up numbers in the event of some squads leaving the sport, say team principals.

F1 grid sizes fell to 22 cars this year following the departure of HRT and there are concerns it could fall again as a difficult economy and steeply rising costs in 2014 put smaller teams under pressure.

Introducing customer cars – allowing front-running teams to sell old chassis – has been raised as a potential solution but faces opposition from some teams. However some of them are willing to consider three-car teams as an alternative to increase grid sizes.

“We?re not a supporter of customer cars,” said Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn. “We think the identity of the teams is important, the fact that the teams design and build their own cars is important but however if Formula One faced a situation where we didn?t have sufficient cars on the grid, then of course a three car team is a possibility, but only in those circumstances.”

Lotus team principal Eric Boullier agreed: “I think if F1 needs to go one path, it is to guarantee a number of cars on the grid and obviously a number of teams running three cars would be, for me, a better solution.”

The principal of F1’s smallest team Marussia, John Booth, said: “I think I?m correct in saying that under current regulations if the numbers of cars on the grid falls below a certain number then certain teams are required to run three cars but as far as I know there?s been no discussion about three car teams in the near future.”

“Certainly I?ve not been part of the discussions and I assume it would need a big change in regulations to achieve that.”

As for whether his team could easily add a third entry he added: “We?re finding two cars tough enough without running three.”

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has repeatedly urged F1 to allow teams to run three cars. Team principal Stefano Domenicali added it was a possibility that could be explored if car numbered fell.

“We are in a situation where for sure we are different in philosophies with the teams that are in the championship, there are different situations,” said Domenicali, “so I think that solution, that situation can be driven really if some teams will not be there in the future.”

2013 Brazilian Grand Prix

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59 comments on Three-car teams preferred to customer cars

  1. To get 24 cars on the grid you would need 8 three car teams. I can’t see any way of finding 6 three car teams let alone 8. Three car teams is not the answer. You distribution of the money from television rights, etc needs to be more evenly distributed and more high value sponsors need to be persuaded that there is value in supporting F1 teams. One problem I see is the scheduling of the races. Even for die-hard fans it means staying up to an ungodly hour or getting up well before the sun to see some races. This is a factor that must be considered by any sponsor. To get exposure the “casual” viewer you don’t really have any chance.

  2. Imre (@f1mre) said on 23rd November 2013, 11:28

    Vettel/Alonso running in 3rd, he needs the win for WDC, ahead of him are his two teammates. Double TO…

  3. Zantkiller (@zantkiller) said on 23rd November 2013, 11:56

    I’d only like it if it was run as 3 legitimate cars, not 2 cars you give the updates too and the other car you stick a pay driver into and have him run around lower down the order.

    So the points for constructors would have to be your highest and lowest car are the scoring cars regardless of whether the lower car gets points or not, to encourage the 3 car teams to get all the drivers into the points.

    That system may help the smaller teams by allowing them to get more points than the 3 car teams if they don’t get the third car into the points.

    A 2 car team which finished 2nd and 5th would get more points then a 3 car team which scored 1st, 3rd and 11th or even 9th.

    Drivers championship scoring would of course remain the same as now but with the possibility that smaller team drivers probably won’t score as many points.

  4. Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 23rd November 2013, 12:12

    3 cars, so maybe we could see Alonso/Hamilton/Vettel in one team,or maybe we could witness World War 3!!!!!!!!!

    • @tifoso1989 what about having a rooklie on the third? It would help some development on the “human” side of the sport, as not always we have good rookies in F1. Small tems will use it as a “paying rookie” but big teams could bring on Sainz Jr, Magnussen, Calado, etc

      • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 24th November 2013, 11:48

        Very good idea which i didn’t notice, because since i was thinking of Vettel/Hamilton/Alonso in Ferrari i completely forget everything !!!!!
        As a Tifoso i don’t like the idea of a Ferrari being by a rookie even if he is the 2007 Lewis Hamilton or the 2009 Vettel or the 2003 Alonso, but the problem of young talented drivers making their ways into F1 is really bothering me a lot and what bothers me the most is that neither the FIA nor the FOM are doing anything to help solve this problem, just look at Robin Frinjs one of the most talented drivers is struggling to race in WSR 3.5 because the luck of sponsorship

  5. melkurion (@melkurion) said on 23rd November 2013, 12:46

    Three cars per team could be considered unfair ofcourse. BUt how about this:

    A team secures his place on the grid by being approved by the FIA. That place gives that team the right and duty to field two cars. However, one of those rights can be sold to another team. That way a poor team could field one car, which is cheaper. And would get extra income to improve the competitiveness of that one car!

    Ferrari for instance could buy the right to that 3 ca, either for money, of maybe free engines and gearboxes or smth scimilar.

  6. David not Coulthard (@) said on 23rd November 2013, 13:05

    A better suggestion: Have a non-profit organisation manage the sport.

    What about the Free Software F1 Foundation, where (based on what Free means in my proposed FFF) TV channels are free to take FOM’s broadcasts, while there will be an Software F1 community, members of which being TV channels that (all have the right to) provide the cameras and their crew to the FOM, who I think should then be the only ones allowed to control the outsourced cameras and crew.

    Bernie can then simply “own”, and take revenues from, the awful Tilkedromes (and by awful I mean that I’m not including circuits like COTA, Sepang, and Istanbul).

  7. JackySteeg (@jackysteeg) said on 23rd November 2013, 13:47

    Perhaps instead of asking “what should we do to increase the grid sizes when the smaller teams fail?”, F1 ought to be asking “what should we do to prevent smaller teams from failing?”

  8. Even when the obvious solution to the teams’ crisis would be to share profits in a better way, I don’t think the ones with the power over it will want to leave their stingy and greedy behaviour. But the 3-car teams should, as a condition, make room just for rookies. So it would give the opportunity, in big teams, to try new talents… and smaller teams can fill the third seat with rookies full of money bags. Some paid drivers have talent, well few of them actually.

  9. Robbie said on 23rd November 2013, 14:33

    I’m not sure I appreciate entirely how the teams that are in favour of running 3 cars think this would work. I’ll assume that running a third car does not add 33% to the equation.

    My random thoughts/questions would be…why can’t they cap expenditures as best as possible? Have they even really tried or is it that they just can’t come to a consensus and have abandoned the concept? Reducing testing and adding reliability and longevity of engines and gearboxes adds to windtunnel and R&D costs, no? Don’t they need actual caps and an actual method to police them?

    Are the steeply rising costs mentioned in this article, and which fly in the face of what F1 itself seemed to be acknowledging has been a problem for a number of years now, only temporary due to the learning curve of the new regs? Or is F1 in fact incapable of properly managing itself fiscally? It seems to me, like others have hinted at, there’s plenty of money to go around, yet it’s not going around well enough.

    What if a team makes a dominant car? They will lock up the podium and viewership will decline, no? Why do they have to make up the numbers just for the sake of making up the numbers? I think I would rather 16 or 18 cars on 8 or 9 two car teams, that are all competing closely, when the bottom 2 or 3 teams now are always miles behind anyway? Get rid of them if they can’t keep up or afford to be competitive in F1. Hand in hand with that though, F1 needs to get rid of DRS, and reduce downforce 40 or 50%, so that there aren’t processions, which continue to exist in spite of their introduction of terrible DRS and tires. Fewer cars on the grid would work if they were always bunched up and racing at a top level.

    If F1 can’t format itself to accommodate lesser teams having a chance to build themselves up into something that resembles competitiveness, why does the pinnacle of racing even bother with them? F1 is in a state where the lesser teams need to take on lesser drivers but with big cheques to pay for their ride, thus watering down the product anyway, so perhaps there should be minimum budgets (that are not insubstantial) that teams must prove they have in place if they want to be in the pinnacle of racing.

  10. PeterG said on 23rd November 2013, 14:36

    All 3 car teams would do is make it harder for the mid-field teams to score points & push them further down the order.

    Sauber in the 1st half of this year for example were often just outside or just inside the top 10, Give the top teams a 3rd car & Sauber are suddenly further down the order nowhere near getting points & also likely getting less TV time for there sponsors.

  11. Corrado (@corrado-dub) said on 23rd November 2013, 18:51

    I think it’s OK as long as the driver with least points from the 3-cars teams doesn’t count for the WCC. Having 3 cars in the WCC fight, against 2, is obviously a “+”.

  12. Michael Brown (@) said on 23rd November 2013, 20:40

    Nah, maybe they should fix the state of F1 so more teams don’t leave and we end up with 5 or 6 teams.

  13. Instead of changing the entire infrastructure of the sport, why not just distribute the wealth of the sport more fairly? With Marussia having to wait a further year and score 10th in the constructors in 2014 in order to see the prize money ($10,000,000) they obtained in 2013, isn’t something apparently wrong with the management of this sport? With $550,000,000 pure profit not being distributed, we have drivers like Maldonado taking seats away from the likes of Hulkenberg. What happens if a 3 car team is implemented in the near future? Well, with no questioning of management or the way money fluctuates in the sport, how long until we start toying with 4 car teams? 5? Until an aged Martin Brundle or greying Suzi Perry welcomes us to the opening Melbourne race of the 2025 Formula Red Bull season? I really dislike that supposed true fans are blindly walking into a potential promise of spectacle rather than address the problems at hand. The problem being a greedy management system. There’s a lot of talk of rookie’s being given a chance with 3 car teams. If FOM was managerial as opposed to FOP (Profit), then a healthier distribution of finance to smaller teams would abolish the notion of a pay driver, allowing drivers to get into the sport on pure merit as opposed to being financially viable AND partially talented (Maldonado). How can one of the most corporate, profitable sports in the world talk about economic strain as if they are a proletariat smoking a roll-up in the smoking area of a pie factory? I think there’s a sick, greedy head on the shoulders of Formula One and the teams need to protect their interest and the interest of the fans by demanding a fairer distribution of wealth, not to juggle with crazy ideas like 3 car teams.

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