How many F1 teams will race in 2010?

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Following yesterday’s developments it now looks like there could be as many as 14 teams racing in F1 in 2010.

It would be fabulous to see 28-car Formula 1 grids, but is it really likely? I’m not sure.

The new teams

Back in the dark days of the budget cap row, the FIA opened a tender to allow three new teams in and named USF1, Campos Meta 1 and Manor Motorsport as the entries.

Then, when BMW announced it was pulling out of the sport and declined to sign the new Concorde Agreement, the tender process was re-opened for another team. Yesterday the Malaysian government-backed Lotus project was named as the winner.

However the FIA also declared itself impressed with the quality of a re-application put forward by the buyers of the BMW team, backed by a Swiss investment foundation called Qadbak. It has said the team will have first refusal on any further vacancies that should arise, and will try to have the entry list expanded to 14 teams for 2010 to accommodate them.

This last point is interesting because the FIA clearly believes it is possible under the new Concorde Agreement to increase the entry from 26 to 28, but not to allow teams to run a third car, which Mosley dismissed as “fantasy” earlier this week.

Getting the other teams to agree to a 14th entrant might not be easy: it means less room at the tracks and more competition for points, prize money and sponsorship. However, a 14th team might not be necessary if other entries are pulled.

Who could drop out?

It was hard to ignore the fact that the FIA’s decision to grant BMW the ’14th slot’ came as new developments were breaking in the Renault case.

The offer of immunity to Pat Symonds is a clear sign the FIA believe the crash plot did not begin and end with the director of engineering and Nelson Piquet Jnr. The prospective of a heavy punishment for the team looms, and given their lack of a title sponsor for 2010 (as far as we know) and the poor state of the new car market, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Renault quit the sport. They could repeat their actions of 1985, where they wound up their factory race team but remained as an engine supplier.

Doubts remain over Toyota’s F1 future as well. The team are still without a win as their eighth season in the sport draws to a close, and following the arrival of Akio Toyoda as president of Toyota Motor Corp the decision on the team’s 2010 budget has been deferred until November.

Meanwhile at least one of the proposed new entrants for 2010 – Campos – has complained that its original plans for how it would afford to compete in 2010 have been thrown into jeopardy because the budget cap rules weren’t passed.

The teams that signed the new Concorde Agreement pledged to remain in F1 until 2012. Presumably there are financial penalties for teams that withdraw but the fact remains that we’ve lost two manufacturer teams in less than 12 months and more could follow.

Faced with this it’s hard to believe there could actually be 28 cars on the grid next year, though it is an appealing idea. If we end up with more than the 20 we have this year – and the new entries are competitive – I’d consider that a result.

More on the 2010 F1 teams

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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59 comments on “How many F1 teams will race in 2010?”


    anyone good at photoshop?, would be lovely to see bernie and max on that pic.

  2. If 28 cars are competing, would they consider giving points to the top 10 places?

    Yes, I know there have been far more cars vying for fewer points places in the past, but so much is made these days of the money teams get from their final positions in the Constructors Championship that you’d have to think they’d consider awading points to the top 10 finishers.

    I’d much rather see 28 cars from 14 teams than the front runners running 3 cars each and locking out the points positions. We don’t need a third Ferrari in the field.

  3. Peter Sauber said that he is sure that at least one of the new teams will not be on the grid in 2010. He must now something…

    More details about the “new” BMW-Sauber on Autosport Forums:

  4. So Lotus will use cosworth engines?, and the Hinwill squad will also use Cosworth engines, thats why the FIA are soooooooo impressed by them.

    If Renault stay on as an engine supplier I can see them earning a nice little wage, since with the engine “freeze” (which is more of an engine sorbet come to think of it) the development cost associated with power units have dramatically decreased. Especially since Uncle Flava refuses to sprinkle cinamon on the renault sorbet or add a palate cleansing couli.

    Tortured metaphors aside Renault could do well with just an engine supply deal in future.

    1. The Hinwil squad will use Ferrari engines, according to Peter Sauber.

      1. Hopefully the team will go back to Sauber-Petronas

    2. Sorbet cleans the palette anyway. No need for coulis. :-)

      1. Sorbet cleans the palette anyway. No need for coulis.

        my gosh James, your right, clearly i’ve gone the wrong way on dessert development.

  5. A wild stab in the dark and I’ll go for 12 teams on the grid for 2010. 24 cars, should be good.

    Anyone know what the penalty for Campos dropping out would be?

    1. At this stage it would be the same for everyone whos has signed Concorde isn’t it?

    2. It would be a shame if any of the new teams dropped out, but I don’t think they should be penalised if they did. They applied to compete in F1 on the promise of budget caps which hasn’t materialised. All of their cost forecasts and marketing deals would have been based on this.

      1. Still should get a car to the grid, because they have technology partner deals with leading teams which should subsurdise some of the gap. I thought that was part of scrapping the cost cap anyway! I think it will be poor form if the new teams blamed that for not getting cars on the grid, that would be just bad planning and management.

    3. Prisoner Monkeys
      16th September 2009, 11:19

      Anyone know what the penalty for Campos dropping out would be?

      I don’t think they’ll drop out. On sheer racing credentials alone, they’ve got it over everyone else.

  6. 24-26 would be great, 22 doesn’t really change many things, but 4-6 more cars in the mid to rear will help with the middle to end of the race where everyone has spaced out and the midfield runners have no one to race.

    i doubt there’ll be 28 cars, not only for size and legal constraints, but i can see at least 1 team dropping out and bmw filling that void.

    2010 should be a great season.

  7. Anyone can translate entire Peter Sauber interview?

    1. Basically:

      -he knows who’s behind QADBAK, trusts them, but can’t reveal their name

      -team principal is open

      -name is not yet clear

      -team will shrink, size is still open though(he expects 250-300 though, citing that size from an agreement between FIA and the teams (I think that’s news, never heard details about that agreement, should apply to other teams as well))
      -Ferrari Engine and Gearbox

      -he doesn’t know Lionel Fisher in person

      -he says he has to be above the FIA decision and is sure at least one of the teams will not make it to the 2010 grid

    2. mate, i tried, but this “schwitzerdütsch” language has not much to do with German :D i understand German quite good, but this was a terrible experience :D

  8. Whoever and whatever hits the grid, I think we are going to have 2 tier racing, the 4 potential cosworth entrants and then the rest of the field. If I were a betting man I think we are likely to see 24 cars take the grid, but i’d love to see 28, first corner incidents, safety cars and then no fuel strats may make for some interesting racing…….Hooray! ;)

    1. I tried watching the NASCAR from Montreal the other week… first corner incident… safety car… restart and first corner incident… safety car… etc. As Phil Gould says “No no no no no”

      1. What do you think Phil Gould would say about Renault ? Ahhh if only he were an F1 fan..

        1. “dear oh dear oh dear… ”

          If he was then we would hear something different than “I love my Sunday afternoon footy” for once lol

  9. I’d say 12-13, it doesn’t look good for Rebnault at the moment, Toyota I think may just stay in the sport. The ‘new BMW’ has already seemed like it might get Ferrari engines if it is on the grid. Campos have been hurt by no budget cap but Manor seem quite quiet right now.

  10. Meanwhile at least one of the proposed new entrants for 2010 – Campos – has complained that its original plans for how it would afford to compete in 2010 have been thrown into jeopardy because the budget cap rules weren’t passed.
    If I was Adrián Campos Suñer, and my team was in trouble, I’d have no doubts calling Joan Villadelprat i Bernal of a certain outfit called Epsilon Euskadi to join the fray.

    1. What I would REALLY REALLY like to see is Epsilon Euskadi on F1. Now that would change the way I watch F1, from rooting for pilots to rooting for a team.

  11. Prisoner Monkeys
    16th September 2009, 11:20

    I’d like to think all 28 would stay. There’s still a lot that can happen between nowand 2010. Plenty of time for the teams to get organised, even Lotus.

  12. Would be insane to see 28 cars at Monaco but I think Manor will last about 2 weekends, Renault will probably pull out and Campos won’t last the year either.

  13. Sauber will get back to the grid either way. Such a stable team since 1993 with that amount of high tech stuff in Hinwil, and now equipped with Ferrari engines (remember the good old Sauber-Petronas times? :), and possibly driven by Fisichella (free engine testing for the Ferrari, looks pretty much possible, and i would say with Klien or Heidfeld. So Sauber will definetly be there for sure!

    1. Ah never thought about the implication of the ferrari engine deal possibly being a seat for fisi :)

  14. I only hope that the new teams get “lucky” like Brawn GP or Force India, or Toro Rosso when Berger was there. If Toro Rosso were still competitive, we would have the most competitive grid in decades… I mean, Rosberg can be 5th in several races in a row and suddenly have a poor weekend and race at the wrong end of the grid… The Red Bulls can be fighting for the championship one day and the next, struggling for a poing… We thought the Brawns would fly away and Button would already be champion by now and they have to deal with McLaren and Ferrari again…
    No refuelling and more cars will bring F1 to a new golden age! I remember I used to love when championship contenders reached and lapped a group of 5 or 6 cars that were racing like crazy for 12th-17th position. The leaders were prone to error, the lapped cars would try to use the leaders to overtake the other lapped cars… And all that, say, at the end of a race! I can’t wait for 2010!

  15. Spanish press has a big red blinking announcement on the website saying Briatore and Symonds quit Renault.

  16. BBC renault are not disputing the claims by piquets

  17. I’d be very interested to know whether, if 28 cars do turn up at Melbourne next year, they will all be allowed to qualify. As far as I know, throughout F1’s history, grids have been capped at 26 cars, with any excess having to qualify (or even pre-qualify) to get in those 26. From reading the 2009 regs, there is nothing in the rules to limit the grid size at all, but as pointed out above, especially at Monaco, having more than 26 cars on track at once could get rather congested and, possibly, dangerous.

    This hypothetical argument then brings us on to what would happen if the bottom two cars are prevented from racing. The last time we had more than 26 cars entered for a GP was Adelaide in 94. There, as they had done for most of the season, the two Pacifics failed to make it through qualifying. As we know, the team went down the gurgler fairly soon after. If we start getting the situation where 2 cars are guaranteed not to race each weekend, and if those 2 cars are always the same 2 cars (one of the new teams, say), that team is likely to find that the lack of TV exposure impacts on their ability to gain sponsorship to pay drivers, staff, engine suppliers and transport costs. The resultant lack of development would then become a self-fulfilling philosophy we’ve seen many times before – Forti, Pacific and Simtek to name only the most recent examples.

    If this leads to the disappearance of one of the less-competitive new teams, surely they’d have something to say – they were initially enticed into running in a championship with no more cars than would be able to race, in a championship protected by budget caps.

    I realise all this is very hypothetical, but I’d definitely be interested to know what the FIA’s plans are for qualifying. If they allow 28 cars onto the grid, how will they square this with safety, especially given their previous stance on the matter? And if they cap grids at 26, how will they deal with any team that goes to all the expense of travelling to a race and then doesn’t actually get to go racing?

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      16th September 2009, 13:04

      Pre-qualifying will not come back. No sponsor in their right mind would be willing to sign up if there was a chance the cars wouldn’t make the grid.

      I could see qualifying expanded to four phases for 2010. The bottom four cars would be knocked out in Q1. The next five would go in Q2. Five more in Q3, with the top ten fighting for pole in Q4.

      Whatever the case, I’m sure they’ll find a way.

      1. How would that work with timing though? If the session was still limited to an hour, drivers would only get a chance to do one or at most two runs before the phase was over! It would make blocking – which presumably would be even more of an issue than it is today – even more critical…

    2. I agree, monaco might be too small for 28 cars, but most of the tracks wouldn’t have a problem with 28 or more cars.
      What about that: The number of cars that are allowed to qualify depends on the length of the track. Let’s allow only 20 cars in Monaco, about 24 in Hungary and 30 at most of the other tracks. That way every team would be guaranteed to start at 12-15 GPs every year and there won’t be too much trouble around Monaco…

  18. Hmm, it seems in the time I took to write that last post Flav and Pat have made it all academic – can’t see Renault continuing in F1 now!

  19. One side issue in all this, could the current racing circuits cope with 28 cars in the Pit Lanes? Will some of the tracks have to add extra garages, or even redesign the Pits to cope?
    It wouldn’t surprise me to see both Renault and Toyota leaving at the end of 2009, and by rights their slots should be open for more new teams to enter for 2010.

    1. Briatore and Symonds have not left Renault, they have been ASKED to do so.

  20. Renault has announced that team boss Flavio Briatore and engineering chief Pat Symonds have parted company with the team and that it will “not dispute” the allegations of race-fixing when it appears before the World Motor Sport Council next week.


    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      16th September 2009, 13:09

      Sounds like they want to compete in 2010, and have decided to face the music at the same time as distancing themselves from Briatore and Symonds.

  21. HounslowBusGarage
    16th September 2009, 13:37

    Hope you’re right Prisoner Monkeys. But I think it will be a lot less.
    Ferrari, MacLaren, Brawn, Red Bull, Williams, Force India, Manor, USF1 will all probably race.

    Torro Rosso, Toyota, Lola/Lotus, BMW-whatsits, Campos could all *not* appear.

    Renault could be in either list, I fear.

    That apart, I think the sponsor list and total money available will reduce drastically. It won’t just be large sponsors not renewing contract (like ING), but many of the smaller ones as well.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      17th September 2009, 0:40

      I think people are being too sceptical of it all. I think all fourteen can make it, as all but Lotus have been hammeing away at their development for a while now, and I’m expecting Lotus to purchase Lola’s unused chassis.

  22. Although I would like a 28 car grid I doubt it will happen in 2010.

    I wouldn’t have thought BMW would have been able to sell Sauber unless they had a grid slot, so I wonder if there are either clauses in the contract which change the selling price if they aren’t granted an F1 entry or they know something which hasn’t been made public yet, such as a team dropping out.

    I believe that the teams who finished higher up in the championship get the bigger garages the following year, also lately I read somewhere that an increased grid will mean less garage space for everyone. If this is the case are the walls that divide garages at most circuits temporary so they can make them as big as they want, or are there permanent walls between them?

  23. Frankly speaking i think only 12 teams will race next year…..Lotus and USF1 will be the 2 new teams…..BMW being the 14th entry will qualify under the new management….Renault also will stay next year as they have fired falvio and pat symonds.Mostly will get a small punishment….Mostly they will be disqualified from last years race and some cash punishment….

  24. My guess is that we will have 22 or 24 cars on the grid next year. My guess is that one of USF1 or Campos probably won’t make it. I think Manor/Virgin will probably get to the grid, as will Sauber/Ferrari. Lotus has Malaysian national pride spurring the various governmental players on, so I don’t think they’ll have money problems.

    On Renault, my guess is that they will be excluded from the rest of this season, but with the corpses of Flav and Pat Symonds on prominent display, will be allowed to participate next season. Of course, there’s the question of whether Carlos Ghosn will want to let them — and without Flav available to do a Briatore GP buyout, they may have the rug pulled out from under them.

    Which, especially if Toyota kills its customer engine program, could leave at least half the grid running Cosworth power — suddenly the new teams’ prospects don’t look quite as grim…

  25. Surley there will be 13 teams next year. If USF1, Manor, Campos drop out then aren’t Lola or Prodrive or some of the other teams who weren’t selected ready to step in and fill their places?

    1. In regards to USF1 not racing next year, see my post below.

      Other than that, if any teams do leave from here on, it would be very difficult to find a replacement on short notice. It takes some time to design and build a car, hire drivers, make travel plans, etc….so it;s not just a one-step process to join and compete in Formula 1.

  26. It has been mentioned here about Campos asking Viladelprat for help. I am sorry to say that they are on less than amicable terms. They were both involved with the born-dead Bravo F1, and apparently Campos turned his back to Epsilon Euskadi’s principal, back on that day, even if Viladelprat is, and was, a renowned name in racing. More so, Viladelprat stated in TV3 (Catalonia, Spain) that he would never join Campos, because he had sort of abandoned him, leaving him aside from the project, when he was already preparing everything to join the squad, alongside Jordi Gené as a driver (Marc Gené’s older brother), so I know Epsilon Euskadi will not join Campos Meta-1.

    1. Interesting point- thanks for the inside info:)

    2. Thanks for that GV27.

  27. I always thought it was ridiculous reopening applications after BMW pulled out. With so many teams interested at the moment the likelihood was that they would be bought out, so why give their place to a new team less well prepared and unlikely to be as competitive?

  28. It was done like this, so that they would have 14 teams, and in the case another one pulled out, they will still have the promised 13.

  29. If you guys think USF1 won’t turn up for the 2010 grid, you may need to think again. They have serious money behind them, and barring some unforseen event happeneing, they’ll be ready to roll very soon. I was speaking to a contact of mine earlier this week who, to say the least, is quite close to the project. He’s quite eager to have me make a visit down to Charlotte once the current F1 season is over to check out the progress.

    If Manor has Branson and Virgin behind it, I would put my money on them showing up as well, alhtough they may no longer be known as Manor by that point. Campos has admitted that they are having a more difficult time, but don;t quit on them just yet….

    As for the current teams, who knows what will happen with Renault? Now that the guilty parties are gone, I doubt we’ll see a severe punishment from the FIA, but perhaps the company will try to pull the plug on the whole operation or sell it to another interested party.

    1. Prodrive gets Renault’s slot, Renault supply engines?

  30. Toyota and Renault to drop out, possibly staying on as Enginer suppliers.

    Got a strong feeling Peter Sauber’s effort will make it. I also think the newbie will be on the grid.

    My bet, 24 cars next year!!

  31. Let them race the 28.

  32. If it’s 28 cars qualifying will be rather hectic. I’d love to hear drivers ranting at each other for accidentally blocking during flying laps. We may also witness new hand gestures too. That’ll be fun wouldn’t it. Better than ‘thisgate’ thatgate’. News on ‘handsgate’ will be hilarious.

  33. I reckon there’ll be 14 teams at the start of the season but 14 teams won’t end it

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