FIA invites “competitive” new teams to enter F1

2015 F1 season

Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus, Bahrain, 2010The FIA is inviting potential new Formula One teams to apply for a place on the grid from 2015 or 2016.

A statement on the website of the sports’ governing body said the selection process would choose “a candidate team to participate at a competitive level” until the 2020 season at least.

“The overall long-term interests of the championship will determine which candidates are selected,” it added.

Potential applicants have until January 3rd to submit expressions of interest to the FIA.

Formula One has suffered a dearth of new entrants in recent seasons due to spiralling costs. Since 2002 only five new operations have entered the sport, three of which have since left:

Year New team Notes
2002 Toyota Left at end of 2009
2006 Super Aguri Left in mid-2008
2010 Lotus Now Caterham
2010 Virgin Now Marussia
2010 HRT Left at end of 2012

The FIA previously announced a new cost cap will come into effect for teams from 2015, the first year in which the new competitors could arrive.

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105 comments on FIA invites “competitive” new teams to enter F1

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  1. Chris (@ukphillie) said on 11th December 2013, 21:36

    This is the first step to the announcement of Customer Cars in 2015.

    A bold prediction, but one I believe in.

    • gweilo8888 said on 11th December 2013, 22:51

      And if that’s true, the first step to me not watching Formula One any more.

      Actually, that’s not true. KERS was the first step. DRS was the second. Double-point races are the third. This would be the last.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 12th December 2013, 0:20

      @ukphillie – Is that necessarily a bad thing? Introducing customer cars to the grid and leaving it at that is the equivalent of a bullet to the foot, but I think that with a few extra rule changes, it could work. The FIA is in the process of doing the same thing in the World Rally Championship, and it’s proving pretty propular.

      Until this year, the World Rally Championship was a mess, with cars from a dozen classes eligible to enter under certain regulations. In addition to the WRC, there were Regional Rally Cars, Group N Production Cars, Super 2000 and Super 1600 entries. The FIA condensed all of that down by reclassifying everything under the new Group R regulations. The ultimate goal of Group R is to see cars categorised as R5 replace World Rally Cars entirely.

      The idea behind R5 is that manufacturers will build cars and sell them to teams. They won’t actually run the cars themselves and will have no control over the actual teams and drivers. It’s similar to the system Malcolm Wilson’s M-Sport team uses: M-Sport build all of the Fiesta WRCs, and loan or sell them to customers (depending on the needs of that customer). That’s why Ford will have a dozen Fiestas competing over the course of a season, while other teams rarely enter more than four cars.

      I think a similar system could work in Formula 1. Constructors would build cars, but they would not actually race them. Instead, they would be sold to teams who competed on their behalf. Constructors would supply engineers and mechanics (perhaps with a rule similar to Formula 2, where pit crews changed cars every event), and provide upgrades to everyone using their chassis. Teams would compete with the cars, and would have the freedom to choose whichever drivers they wanted at a given moment. There would be a limit on how many cars a constructor could supply, based on the maximum that the smallest constructor could offer (so if Red Bull could supply ten cars and Williams could only supply four, Red Bull would be limited to four). Drivers would compete for the Drivers’ Championship, Constructors for the Constructors’ Championship, and individual teams would compete for a new title, the Teams’ Championship.

      Teams would be free to enter as many races as they liked, with a minimum and maximum number set across the season. In a season with 20 races, they would have to contest at least 8 and no more than 15. The season could then be divided up into a NASCAR-style Chase for the Sprint Cup, but implemented better. After fifteen races, the top twenty-four drivers would be put onto a set entry list, and the last five races would be run for the championship without any backmarkers getting in the way. Championship points would not be reset as they are in NASCAR – this is simply a way of getting a fixed grid of the best drivers. This way of running races would mean a return to the days of pre-qualifying, but the idea is to keep the costs for the individual teams down, so even if they don’t qualify for a race, it’s not a total disaster.

      Of course, for this to work, there has to be major restrictions in place on car design. The whole system fails if there is a massive gap in performance between cars. The FIA need to be brutal in their application of design regulations, severly restricting aerodynamic development (but opening up engine development at the same time).

      • Johnny Five said on 12th December 2013, 13:16

        PM, why on earth didn’t you stand in the recent FIA presidential elections? Anyone with half an ouce of sense would’ve voted you in… ah, I think I just answered my own question!

      • Good grief. Are you trying to completely F1 off completely? F1 is not NASCAR or WRC. Different beast all together, with completely different historical presidents.

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 12th December 2013, 2:34

      I predict that one of the current teams will go burst. Just like it happened before 2009, someone surely will lose its spot, or 2 teams will merge (Marussia is reported to be looking for a merger).

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 12th December 2013, 6:27

        @fer-no65 – Sadly, I’m afraid that’s what it’s going to take to enact real change. Twenty years ago, Williams were a force to be reckoned with; now, they face the same dire fate as Tyrrell, with substandard drivers, lacklustre cars and wildly inconsistent performances. Likewise Sauber, who are circling the drain financially. We could lose one or both in the none-too-distant future.

      • Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 12th December 2013, 9:04

        I can think of three or four teams that might have that fate in the next two years. Even if the FIA allow another entrant (and they messed up last time, didn’t they?), we could still have two empty garages.

    • graham228221 (@graham228221) said on 12th December 2013, 6:55

      Nope – because the FIA are giving prospective teams 3 weeks to apply for a place, but have made no announcement whatsoever about customer cars.

      Why get new teams to apply and then change the rules totally? Why not change the rules and then invite new teams to apply, especially as it is a rule change that would likely attract a lot more prospective new teams (albeit of a very different flavour)?

      So no, I don’t think this indicates that customer cars will be introduced in 2015.

      What is odd, is that there are no details at all of what this cost cap will actually be – it could be a rigid £50 million spend per year, or a vague and complex system like the resource restriction agreement. So I suspect we’ll have a similarly confusing situation to the last round of new team applications – where most applications were made presuming that Mosley’s £40 million cost cap would come into effect, but it never did (spelling the end of USF1).

      • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 13th December 2013, 11:02

        Why not change the rules and then invite new teams to apply, especially as it is a rule change that would likely attract a lot more prospective new teams

        But as you say this is exactly what they did last time with the budget cap but then didn’t go ahead with the changes leaving the new teams with an uphill struggle (from what I’ve read about USF1 the absence of a cost cap was the least of their problems).

        I don’t understand why they don’t have an open door policy – anyone who can build a car and operate it to the regulations should be welcomed. It’s not as if there’s such high demand for places that they need to be so restrictive. Could Stefan GP have made it to race – maybe not, but we never got the chance to find out and if they had given it a go what’s the worst that could have happened?

        USF1 and HRT weren’t exactly great success stories – and these were two of the three teams originally hand-picked by the FIA which shows how poor that selection process was. Why not let anyone who wants a go have a try, we already have rules which have to be met including the 107% rule to ensure only teams capable of racing can do so.

    • FIA is a gift that keeps on giving….

  2. Steven (@steevkay) said on 11th December 2013, 21:37

    Of course you want a “competitive” team, as opposed to a non-existent one (looking at you, USF1).

    I find it difficult to see any major manufacturers joining unless there is some kind of budget cap implemented… I suppose it makes sense that they’re accepting applications now, since it’ll be near impossible for a brand new outfit to get a new car designed from scratch for 2014. Then there’s the budget cap proposed for 2015 (yeah, we’ll see)… I really hope either the existing ‘new’ teams, or the 12th one that will join in the future, will show that these new teams can build to a point where they’re competitive. How will any future teams consider joining F1 if all they see is failures and debts stack up from all the new teams?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 11th December 2013, 21:50

      @steevkay

      I find it difficult to see any major manufacturers joining unless there is some kind of budget cap implemented

      I disagree – the typical modus operandi for manufacturer entrants is to try to buy their way to success, just as Toyota tried to do by spending an entire year testing their car before entering the championship, just as Porsche are doing at the moment in the World Endurance Championship.

      (Not that I have any confidence in a budget cap being realistic, I hasten to add.)

      • Steven (@steevkay) said on 11th December 2013, 22:56

        As soon as I read your comment, I realized my error. You’re right about that, I was only thinking about the post-economic-meltdown climate (i.e. now that Honda and Toyota have both pulled out…)

        As far as the budget cap goes, it is something I hope for, but realistically am not expecting to happen.

      • PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend) said on 11th December 2013, 23:29

        @keithcollantine the only reason manufacturer new entrants try and buy their way to success is because there is no other way to win a championship in F1 in its current structure. You have to spend. Even then, there are no guarantees, case in point Toyota. It is not a modus operandi dictated by the manufacturers but rather by the circumstances. A budget cap shifts the competition from whoever spends more to whoever uses its limited resources more efficiently. A structure where the there is a certain level of predictability of how much will be spent is appealing to manufacturers and an easier sell at boardroom level as far as determining ROI of a F1 project. So yes, a budget cap is an attractive prospect to manufacturers and a much better alternative to the current structure or ,worse still, customer cars.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 12th December 2013, 6:30

        @keithcollantine – At the opposite end of the spectrum, you have Lola, who rushed into development for the 1997 season.

        So I don’t think it’s a case of buying success – teams do need some time to prepare. It’s how they use that time that matters.

  3. Sam cooper said on 11th December 2013, 21:38

    So could Carlin be in f1 after all.. Put many applications in, in the past.

  4. Wesley (@wesley) said on 11th December 2013, 21:39

    One Andretti Racing Team coming up…

    • Coke or Pepsi perhaps? Or better, Apple iRacing.

      • Steven (@steevkay) said on 12th December 2013, 6:28

        Doesn’t Google have lots of cash?

        There was the tobacco era, and now we’ll have the high-tech era: Google F1 (needs a better name), Apple, maybe Oracle will give up sailing for F1, Samsung…

        • David not Coulthard (@) said on 12th December 2013, 7:23

          Hmmmm…..Red Hat Ferrari?

        • spoutnik (@spoutnik) said on 12th December 2013, 9:24

          @steevkay if Oracle support a car like they support their products ….

          Google dismissed the proposal because their AdWords system was not used around circuits.
          Facebook dismissed it too because they could not change teams privacy settings without their consent.
          Microsoft refused, fearing some blue screen of death in the middle of a race.
          Apple was frustrated because they could not apply for a patent on the principle of open wheels neither could they rename the sport in iFormula.
          Not so simple :)

    • Jack (@jackisthestig) said on 12th December 2013, 13:17

      When Mario Andretti intimated a few days ago that F1 should permit customer cars because it would attract teams like his son’s to F1, my only real thought was who cares? Surely there is no point to being in the sport as a team unless you rise to the technical challenge and compete on the design side of things.

      Since I first started karting I’ve absolutely loved it, loved competing and especially loved winning. Then when I was in college, as part of the course we designed, built and raced our own ‘soapbox’ electric kart in a one-off race at Pembrey. I know it’s at the absolute bottom end of the scale compared to F1, but the experience of competing with a machine you have designed and built yourselves is absolutely fantastic, it’s hard to explain but it takes on a huge added dimension in comparison to racing on your own just for the sake of it. I just don’t understand why any teams would want to enter F1 without entering into that spirit of competition.

  5. Denis 68 said on 11th December 2013, 21:44

    “The FIA is inviting potential new Formula One teams to apply for a place on the grid from 2015 or 2016″

    Is the FIA serious?

    They will be very lucky to even keep the 11 current teams on the F1 grid.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 12th December 2013, 1:44

      Quite right, realistically the announcement should have read: Due to expected vacancies in the near future the FIA is looking for a number of people/business’ willing to spend vast amounts of money to support the owners of FOM.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 12th December 2013, 7:14

        Spot on @hohum, and most likely why there will probably not be anyone interested.

        A manufacturer that would want to enter the sport would just buy out an existing outfit (Lotus would be for grabs, Sauber too, FI could also be open to it, who knows if a manufacturer came by, Mateschitz could in effect sell them the team too, Marussia would be quite cheap to have too, Fernandes would no doubt be happy to announce another business connection for Caterham) to use its resources.
        Even a wealthy individual would be far cheaper and better off just buying one of the existing teams instead of having to build up their own facilities.
        Only Toyota would probably be able to start up from the facilities they already have, although I guess VW would have the infrastructure too, but why would they want to do it.
        And until there is a real scope of making money from operating a team, I really struggle to see how anyone would want to enter F1 if not a manufacturer. Certainly not the likes of Andretti et all, who are used to be able to calculate a ROI for their operations

  6. Brian Campbell said on 11th December 2013, 21:47

    We heard this all before when HRT, Marrusa and Caterham entered. Not before long costs had spiralled out of control an Bernie was complaining about the small teams not competing. I would not touch it with with her maws da’s!

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 12th December 2013, 0:35

      Ah, but those teams entered under the assumption that a budget cap would be put in place. The existing teams managed to kill that off because it was so poorly implemented, and it hurt those new teams.

      This time, however, Jean Todt has got the “Global Cost Cap” in place already. It’s not clear how this will be introduced, but the important part is that there is an agreement in place that the teams think is workable (otherwise, they never would have agreed to it). The Streategy Working Group might only have representatives from six teams, but the teams who put up the most resistance to an externally-policed budget cap are among those six teams, so this isn’t a case of the FIA performing a bait and switch on them.

      The difference between then and now is that Max Mosely put the cart before the horse. He opened the grid up to entries under the promise of a budget cap before he could make good on that promise. In fact, he probably tried to use those new entries to coax the existing teams into agreeing to the budget cap. But Jean Todt has been smart enough to get an agreement in writing first. This way, any potential new entires will know exactly what to expect and there is no risk of having the carpet pulled out from under them.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 12th December 2013, 8:11

        Its a strange sensation to see a comment of you being that naive as far as the “Global Cost Cap” is concerned @prisoner-monkeys.

        Yes, the work group did agree and sign off this initiative to form a commission to agree on the how and what of a Global Cost Gap. But its far from clear what that cap will actually be, and one of the reasons the teams might have agreed is that they will have all the options in the world to tone it down, neuter any control mechanisms and make the penalties for infringement almost irrelevant.
        To state that this cost cap is done and dusted is very far from the reality.

        • spoutnik (@spoutnik) said on 12th December 2013, 11:33

          @bascb

          Global Cost Gap

          Interresting typo :)

        • Ud (@udm7) said on 12th December 2013, 12:22

          I think @bascb has a point there. We don’t know if the cost is 50 or 100 million euros/pounds/whatever. Plus, teams like Ferrari, RB and Mercedes all part of the strategy group have budgets far, far bigger than those. I doubt it would really help the teams with money like MArussia or Caterham have. It, in my opinion would be much better to have less cost for engines, more part-sharing (gearbox etc) than limiting costs and customer cars.
          Burning up money is a part of F1, after all. It is the pinnacle of motorsports. A money limit won’t let F1 be the innovator it has been. Would the development of V6′s be possible with the budget? No. Maybe the engines coulld have been separate from the Works team of Ferrari and Mercedes (and Cosworth , “shhhh!”) but it just leads to more and more loopholes, doesn’t it?

          And a cost cap combined with a bit of return of in-season testing ( 4 post race sessions, removal of YDT) sounds strange to me.

          Money burning has become a part of F1 in the last few decades or so. It’s F1 which is full of glamour, not 24 hours of Le Mons.

  7. ElBasque (@elbasque) said on 11th December 2013, 21:47

    I wonder if they’re aware of the semantics surrounding the word “competitive”.

  8. “The overall long-term interests of the championship will determine which candidates are selected,” it added.

    The FIA are really off their nut, and the pomp of the message is a great symptom of the leadership issues at the higher echelons of the sport. Formula 1 seems to be in a commercial slump at the moment, and it’s entirely down the leadership of the sport. There’s plenty of money out there, but for some reason large numbers of blue-chip commercial partners just aren’t interested.

  9. Strontium (@strontium) said on 11th December 2013, 21:51

    until the 2010 season at least

    Slightly confused. Must be a mistake :P

    • gweilo8888 said on 11th December 2013, 22:42

      No mistake, it’s just the latest FIA gimmick. You earn double points in the last race of the season, and backmarker teams can inversely defer their failures back to the 2010 season, thus ensuring that only positive benchmarks are reached after new rolling roadbl… err… backmarker teams join the grid.

  10. matt90 (@matt90) said on 11th December 2013, 21:53

    Formula One has suffered a dearth of new entrants in recent seasons due to spiralling costs. Since 2002 only five new operations have entered the sport, three of which have since left.

    Thankfully, few teams have left though. And those that do tend to be recent start-ups. Although that is bad in that it puts off new teams from having a go, it is reassuring that teams with decent resources and long histories have stayed safe, even if they’ve come close to leaving. The track record for established teams is quite good. They tend to change hands rather than go bust at least. Formula 1 isn’t in a great way financially, yet 9 teams on the grid can trace their roots back to the ’90s or earlier. Toyota was something of an exception, but although it raced for a reasonably long time (8 years), it was always poorly managed, poorly structured, under-achieving, and existed under just the one name- it isn’t surprising that the team disappeared completely when Toyota gave up. Despite Honda, Toyota and BMW being big name to withdraw, their exits were not tragedies in the end and the last major casualties were actually Prost and Arrows (not to detract anything from the younger teams which left).

  11. matt90 (@matt90) said on 11th December 2013, 21:58

    This does seem wonderfully mistimed. Teams might be entering in 2015- one year after a major regulation change. That is one of the problems the recent new teams faced, joining 1 year late. I’m sure that simply be start-ups, with reduced resources, is a big reason for them staying at the back, but having been on the back foot- one step behind the major teams- must be an issue. This is why their performance will be particularly interesting next year.

  12. ken (@whatevz) said on 11th December 2013, 21:58

    I wasn’t around in the 80′s or whenever it was. It sounds horrible to have teams that would ship their equipment all over the world and not pass pre-qualifying. That just sounds like a ridiculous waste of everyone’s time and poor planning on the championship’s part.

    But aside from that, was it so bad when the standards were lower and whoever wanted to race could easily enter? Building up a team is already hard enough without all these extra artificial barriers of crazy entry fees and what not. Having not witnessed the 80′s, I say the more the merrier. If they can pass crash tests and prove they have the will and the funds to contest at least a full season, why not let actual pace (via the 107% rule, or tighten it up to 105%) weed out the uncompetitive teams naturally?

  13. JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 11th December 2013, 22:10

    If they want new teams, then they will need to sort out the sorry state of Formula One first. No team is going to want to enter when it’s getting such bad press, with the tyres, double points etc. I still love F1, but it does need to sort itself out first.

    The only way I see any team entering and being competitive, is if someone with quite a lot of money comes in and tries to entice some top people into building something up from the ground. It can be done, but as I said, would need money and the willingness of a few key people.

  14. Michael (@dedischado) said on 11th December 2013, 22:20

    perhaps the prize money could be distributed a little more equally, say a million or so for each team at each race? that would be pretty good show-up money…

    • gweilo8888 said on 11th December 2013, 22:45

      Michael (@dedischado), meet Bernie Ecclestone. Bernie Ecclestone, meet Michael (@dedischado).

      As long as Bernie’s still got hiz wizened claws sunk into F1′s helm, no team will be getting more money. Except Ferrari, that is — got to give them every possible advantage to help cheat their way to the top step.

  15. Yosi (@yoshif8tures) said on 11th December 2013, 22:35

    Seeing as most of the grid have money problems, it seems that investing or buying into one of those would be a better investment.
    When’s the last time a New Team won anything?
    The closest I can think of was Toyota. Red bull and brawn don’t count since they were only new in name but had past iterations.

    • Hotbottoms (@hotbottoms) said on 11th December 2013, 23:15

      @yoshif8tures
      Stewart is the newest constructor to win a race. They entered the sport in 1997 and won a race in 1999. Stewart later became Jaguar and eventually Red Bull, so it took them 14 seasons to win a championship.

      But we haven’t had that many new entrants after that – the only ones have been Toyota (2002), Super Aguri (2006) Hispania/HRT (2010), Lotus/Caterham (2010) and Virgin/Marussia (2010). Toyota achieved 13 podiums and 3 pole positions, the others not much so far.

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