F1 quitters return to racing elsewhere in 2012

2012 F1 season

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BMW turned its back on F1 at the end of 2009

When the global financial crisis began to bite, F1 was rocked by a series of departures by major car manufacturers.

First Honda pulled the plug on its F1 team at the end of 2008. Within 12 months BMW and Toyota had followed suit.

This trio are embarking on major new racing projects in 2012 – but not in F1. Why have they chosen to make their comebacks in other series?


Honda took over the former BAR team in 2006, but struggled in the two seasons that followed with a pair of disastrously uncompetitive cars.

Even so, it was a considerable shock when, on December 4th, 2008, the team announced its withdrawal from the sport after just three years as a fully-fledged constructor.

Honda Civic WTCC

Since then Honda has enjoyed some success in the British Touring Car Championship, with Matt Neal winning the series last year at the wheel of a Civic.

Honda will step up its campaign in 2012, entering its new Civic in the FIA’s World Touring Car Championship. This is a major boost for the series, which last year had just Chevrolet as a manufacturer entrant.

The 12-round calendar takes teams as far afield as Brazil, USA, Japan, China and Macau, with the remaining races in Europe.

One of the obvious appeals of touring car racing to manufacturers is the clear resemblance between the racing cars and showroom models. With Honda’s car range increasingly centred on family vehicles rather than performance models, racing in the WTCC makes sense.


BMW came close to tasting championship success on its return to F1 as an engine supplier with Williams in the early 2000s. After taking over Sauber, Robert Kubica was in the hunt for the 2008 crown until the latter stages of the season.

After an uncompetitive 2009 the team pulled the plug on its F1 campaign. But even as it was making its departure from F1, BMW stressed that it would “continue to be actively involved in other motor sports series”.

BMW scrapped its WTCC team at the end of 2010 but will return to touring car racing this year. It will compete against its principle market rivals Mercedes and Audi in the DTM (Germany’s touring car championship) with a version of its M3.

BMW’s reasons for leaving F1 were hotly debated at the time. The cost of competing in F1, the move towards more efficient engines, and various rows involving Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone were touted as likely contributing factors.

What does its move into the DTM tell us about its racing priorities? It seems practical business considerations such as reducing costs and competing against key market rivals have trumped other concerns, such as a desire to be seen producing more efficient and environmentally responsible cars.


Just three days after the 2009 F1 season ended, Toyota made the sudden announcement that it was ending its F1 programme.

This was hardly a great surprise. No wins from 139 starts in eight years was not the kind of return they expected given the vast sums spent on the team.

Their Cologne base is now being used for an entry in the new World Endurance Championship including a two-car effort at the Le Mans 24 Hours. The turnaround would likely have been even quicker had it not been for last year’s tsunami in Japan, which forced the postponement of their programme.

It is surely significant that Toyota, having described the F1 Kinetic Energy Recovery System as “really primitive”, raced without the device in 2009 year despite selling the successful Prius hybrid road car, and is now set to race a more advanced hybrid in the WEC.

Where will F1’s new teams come from?

It’s not just manufacturers previously involved in F1 who are choosing to compete elsewhere.

The forthcoming new rules for 2014 would seem an ideal time for a new manufacturer to take the plunge. But as yet there is no sign any of them will.

There have been the usual murmurings of interest from the Volkswagen Group, but a potential entrance was at one point suggested as being as far off as 2018.

It may be that the conspicuous lack of success of new teams which entered in 2010 have served to discourage others. The 13th slot on the grid remains vacant.

Nor should we underestimate the important of more prosaic considerations. I wonder how any car manufacturer – particularly luxury builders who sell their cars partly on their aesthetics – can be happy to put their badge on the modern generation of disfigured F1 machines.

History has shown F1 courts manufacturer interest at its peril for they tend to come and go as they please. Honda and BMW’s teams only survived as Brawn (now Mercedes) and Sauber thanks to the efforts of individuals like Ross Brawn, Nick Fry and Peter Sauber.

Toyota scrapped their F1 entry despite having already built a car for the new season. Such an abrupt pull-out is hardly unusual – Peugeot’s withdrawal from the WEC, a championship they had lobbied the FIA to set up, came as its team had already begun pre-season testing, and was so hurried its drivers learned the news from journalists.

But if car manufacturers can’t be enticed to enter F1, and teams in junior categories like GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5 seldom if ever make the step up to F1, then where are the teams of the future going to come from?

2012 F1 season

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Images © Yas Marina Circuit, Honda, BMW ag, Toyota

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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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69 comments on “F1 quitters return to racing elsewhere in 2012”

  1. Money money money money money.

    When (or perhaps if…?) the global economy gets back off its backside in the future, I’m sure we’ll gradually see more teams coming back to the sport, most likely in the form of more modest outfits, probably more akin to Caterham, Virgin and HRT – not in terms of performance but perhaps in terms of size, budget and work force.

    I would say Volkswagon’s 2018 suggestion is probably based on when they feel they can justify entering F1, and probably only as an engine supplier then. At the moment I’m sure they’re making losses, so entering now wouldnt be particuarly well supported by the board of directors.

  2. If a proper resource agreement or spending cap is not drawn up F1 can kiss goodbye to any significant increase in manufacturer interest for this generation. It is too expensive and I would not be surprised if secretly the big teams are glad that nobody with the funds to come in and outspend them is likely to be interested.

    While there is bickering between teams both inside or outside FOTA and accusations of teams not playing fair any senior person at VW, Toyota, Ford, Peugeot would be taking a massive risk lobbying for their company to join F1, not even looking at Toyota as an example of how much money can be thrown down the drain.

    New teams are surely more likely to resemble HRT and Virgin/Marussia, and are going to have to struggle their way up from the back unless the playing field is levelled somehow.

    1. If a proper resource agreement or spending cap is not drawn up F1 can kiss goodbye to any significant increase in manufacturer interest for this generation.

      The problem is that the minute the teams agree to such a set-up, they will instantly start scouring it, looking for ways to spend more than they originally agreed to. Max Mosley had an idea to combat this, and they teams rejected it – Mosley wanted each team to undergo an independent audit, the results of which would go to the FIA so that they could make sure the teams were only spending as much as they were allowed to spend. It was actually a pretty decent idea, but the teams objected to opening up their books to an external auditor, probably because it was a firm known for forensic auditing, and so they would find any creative accounting by the teams, and the teams did not want to give that up because they knew that they could go faster if they spent more money on research and development.

      1. Don’t forget to mention, that Mosley’s main focus was about breaking the might of the top teams by giving teams that would commit to a maximum budget of 40 million more technological options.
        That did nothing to get these teams to agree to a budget limit, did it?

      2. That’s why I am so pessimistic about the chances of any significant new entries – the ‘Big Three’ are happy with the situation so won’t concede anything to help get potential competition into the sport.

        Any new teams will be struggling from the back of the grid and as with Virgin and HRT these boards will be full of people saying they shouldn’t be allowed to race because they are two seconds off the pace. Currently it looks to me like a vicious cycle.

  3. I believe, perhaps wrongly I’m not really sure, that F1 was a lot more desirable for the European car companies when most or at least half of the races were based in Europe. Also for the likes of Toyota having the Fuji GP was of course desirable. This coupled with the fact that it costs much more these days to lug a F1 team around the world, mechanics and all.

    Having races in more and more oil countries only really appeals to the Ferraris and the McLarens of this world because this is where they can shift more road cars, you’re not going to set up meetings and sell too many VWs or Peugeots over there.

    As James says above, expect F1 to be made up of smaller teams backed by rich Russian or Bahraini businessmen with too much money and not car manufacturers – A bit like the premier league in fact.

    1. I think you nailed everything right here. Obviously, new teams was always a rich man’s playground but now it seems that it’s become so expensive, only the ultra-rich can afford to take the plunge.

    2. I think you’re a little wrong about just McLaren and Ferrari benefitting from races in oil countries. BMW and Mercedes are probably exclusive enough to earn sales there, and any team with a big enough sponsor (addmittedly there aren’t many) would benefit from the exposure too. But the loss of European races may have an impact (as well as USA around the time teams were leaving).

    3. China is a big plus for car manufacturers these days so it’s good in a way that there’s a race there. The USA is also an important market for the motor industry so it’s good F1 will be returning there this season.

      The only person who benefits from a lot of the races outside Europe though is Mr. Ecclestone. He can chase the big money from the emerging economies but it won’t be around long, Turkey didn’t want to continue paying the ever increasing fees and we’ve heard about South Korea wanting out. With capitalism comes a certain responsibility, if you price your source of income out of business, then what?

      Sorry to go off on a bit of a rant but that’s a point I’ve been aching to make for a while.

      1. You make some excellent points. I guess the issue raised is that it is as much about the circuits as it is the forthcoming regulations in 2014 that will shape what teams arise going forward.

    4. Sounds like you got it pretty much spot on. And the Chinese are not yet there to go into F1 by themselves, off course.

      1. They will just copy F1 and make their own series, much like they do for everything else.

      2. But as manufacturers could we see MG and Saab teams coming out of China, probably from a UK enginering base?

  4. Well i hate to say it, but it looks like prospects for future team entry are looking bleak. But there has been one man who may have in fact saved future entries to F1 with his efforts and that may is Bernie Ecclestone.

    It’s hardly likely European or Japanese car manufacturers are going to re-enter formula 1 very soon, at least not in great numbers. I suspect future manufacturers will be from countries with a newly built shiny Tilke track.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tata having a crack at F1 in the next fews years, particularly with their supercar project at jaguar and their ever increasing sponsorship presence. If Force India ever folds, i suspect Tata will happily pick up the reigns.

    1. i think tata sponsor HRT at the minute maybe a way for them to take over the team when it goes under(which wont take long)as virgin is now marussia which is a russian super car manufacturer.

  5. Maybe it’s back to the days of privateers, like Wolf, Tyrrell, March, Arrows and so many famous names.

    It’d not be bad for F1 to have privateers run the teams while the manufacturers take the safe approach providing engines with the new 2014 rules.

    That should be way to go if the FIA wants to revive interest within manufacturers, in my opinion. But they should really try this time…

  6. Surely BMW, Honda and Toyota were more likely to succeed than Virgin and HRT. If those three great car manufacturers dropped out after so little, what’s in Virgin’s and HRT’s future?
    Virgin is now Marussia, and HRT have changed ownership too frequently in three years. Are we going to witness more changes in the ownership of these teams or are they going to be definitively closed down? Are they, hopefully, going to survive long enough to improve and attract more sponsors, and secure a long-term part in the sport?

  7. To be honest, back in 2008 the future of F1 looked pretty grim. When these teams started to leave, there was so much speculation as to who else would quit the sport. Three years have passed, the economy has not improved if indeed declined further, yet F1 is still here and still has enough teams to provide ‘a show’.
    What the big spending marks of Toyota and Honda forgot is that F1 began with small, independant teams devoted to motor racing and not selling automobiles. Men like Bruce McLaren, Enzo Ferrari, Jack Brabham, were all racing people to their very core and men who understood the world inwhich they operated. And at their conception, all their teams started small and grew from success on the racetrack and not on some showroom floor.
    Ofcourse, sports like most things in life revolves around money. Small teams like Caterham and HRT are always going to struggle to compete against the deep wallets of Red Bull and the like. However, Red Bull’s success like Ferrari’s before them was not just based on money, but on having the right people to run the team and build the cars. Toyota and Honda could throw as much money as they wanted to in F1, which amounted to billions of dollars in marketing and car development, but could only achieve one grands prix victory. Toyota, the worlds biggest car maker at the time, never won a grands prix as a team nevermind a championship. This, in my eyes, was a pathetic example of a team that had been poorly concieved and even more poorly run. Those to blame though, were not just those at the racetrack or at the factory, but in Japan calling the shots and those who ultimately pulled the plug.
    In 2009, Brawn Gp, in their first and only season as Brawn, won the championship with Jenson Button. Using a car and driver Honda had invested heavily into only to cast aside a soon as their owners lost their bottle and called time on their misadventure. Ross Brawn and a handfull of laid off Honda employees had achieved what the Japanese car giant had not in the previous decade. That is a lesson for all the manufacturers.
    You can charm the sponsors and sign the checks, encourage F1 to use more fuel effecient and earth friendly engines, but for God’s sake! Leave the racing to those who understand racing, or else you will end up with egg on your face just like Honda did in 2009.

    1. COTD in my eyes…

    2. A few years back JV attempted a comeback to F1 by gathering up a group that was going to take over Toyota’s last chassis, which was still going to be relevant at the time. JV’s group, as well as two other groups, took their presentations to the FIA at the appointed time, and were left basically feeling like the FIA never truly intended to take on another team, and to this day that 13th spot is still vacant. They felt like they wasted a lot of time and money and effort for naught. I would say that was an example of a purebred racer who understands racing and understands the game, being denied for who knows what reason the FIA would give. That was a perfect opportunity for a Toyota-born effort to be continued ala Brawn GP taking over from Honda and turning it into something bigger. Truly a shame imho. Guess my point is that while certain manufacturers may be conspicuously absent these days, it’s not just about their decisions made from their end as to whether or not it is a good advertising investment, it’s about what they are facing in the FIA/F1 in terms of the unpredictability of politics, rule changes etc. that has to be considered. ie. FIA/F1 can look themselves in the mirror for some answers as to where the manufacturers are now, and will be in the future.

  8. In fairness to BMW, Honda and Toyota, they weren’t the first motor manufacturers to exit F1 when no longer fitted with their business plans and they probably won’t be the last, either. All three companies have long, often distinguished histories in various branches of motorsport prior to their most recent F1 adventures – but flashy entrance and quick, ignominius exit is an inherent risk of allowing F1 to be dominated by the manufacturers.

    Why pick other racing series? Marketing and money, simple as that. Touring cars are a relatively cheap and easy way of promoting road cars to the members of the public who may end up buying them. The WEC is more expensive and the cars are outlandish, but still much cheaper than a full F1 programme and, given the technical freedom, is a way of building up an innovative and modern image. F1 offers a great deal, but is hugely expensive and incredibly high risk – there’s nowhere to hide if a big company gets it wrong. Bear in mind also that the PR benefits of motorsport participation wear off after a time, pushing manaufacturers to look for different places to promote themselves.

    F1 needs a bedrock of competitors whose primary purpose is motorsport, including smaller teams who can afford to compete even if they have little realistic hope of winning. Just being on the grid is enough for HRT to continue racing, but being an also-ran is impossible for the likes of Toyota to justify to its shareholders – only success will do.

    Lower costs are only part of the answer. Technical stability and the sport’s governance are also factors. F1 cars don’t necessarily need to be visually pretty (although it never hurts) or look like something you’d see on the road – see the WEC – but the current primacy of aerodynamics needs to change. At the moment, any prospective F1 entrant must be put off by the enormous and ever-changing complexity of the cars’ aero packages – it’s highly specialist, costs a lot and heavily influences success/failure, but is a technolgical dead end. I’m not calling for road relevance per se, but for allowing more room for other areas of development to be more inluential in determining success. How you manage that is another thing entirely.

  9. Note also that Nissan will be launching into V8 Supercars in 2013… I know it’s a bit of a stretch, but if they ramp up their racing we could see a Nissan (or Infiniti) F1 team one day ;)

    1. I think that Red Bull will eventually pull out of F1, they aren’t a big buck team, so I see Nissan buying them out hence Infiniti sponsor them.

  10. I’m not really bothered whether it’s privateers or manufacturers who become the future of the sport, as long as they’re all competing reasonably well with one another over a reasonable amount of time.

    Call me naive, but while having manufacturers implies plenty of money and good resources it also implies road-car agendas and the ability to pull out at a moments notice. Of course, there is nothing to say that Sauber or Williams couldn’t do the same tomorrow but you can bet your bottom dollar that they would try a lot harder to hold on to their F1 dream.

    I should also point out that I don’t have an issue with manufacturers marketing their products, it’s just another approach to the sport and if it affords them the ability to be more successful on track in various leagues of motorsport, good for them!

    1. I agree completely.

      That’s perfectly understandable for me that those manufacturers decided that F1 doesn’t give them the kind of market exposure they wanted.

      So BMW, conservatively as they are, chose its personal, ‘national’ battle with Mercedes/Audi, Toyota explores the hybrid appeal, and Honda wants to show off as a good-looking middle-class fast and safe vehicle.

      For me it’s simple as that and I don’t think anyone should have a grievance against them.

      1. @phildick Yeah I was thinking the same about BMW, I think DTM only has a couple of races outside Germany so clearly there are major cost savings there!

  11. i say let tobacco companies sponsor F1 teams again.

    Teams are struggling for sponsorship and this could be a big boost. I doubt people converted to smoking or changed their brand of cigarettes just because they saw advertising in f1. I am a non smoker myself, but a huge fan of F1. Why limit the scope of sponsors because of a health and safety regulation? The EU is not only killing F1 with its debt crisis, but also with its nanny laws telling people what they should and should not do. These are millions of dollars that F1 is missing out on.

    1. I doubt people converted to smoking or changed their brand of cigarettes just because they saw advertising in f1.

      If there was any truth in this assertion, why did the tobacco companies spend such enormous sums on advertising in F1 in the first place?

      The answer is obvious: because advertising does work.

      Besides which, squeezing out the tobacco companies arguably made F1 more attractive to major car manufacturers and blue chip sponsors. It’s not as if they’re racing in other series because they’re allowed to have tobacco advertising there, is it?

      1. @keithcollantine

        I’m a smoker, but I never got the urge to light up a Gitanes when I saw a Ligier on the screen.
        And I don’t think a non-smoker turned into a smoker because Ferrari was (and in fact still is) sponsored by Marlboro. That simplifies things way too much.

        But I do agree, that it is the image that was important for the companies. Someone who might switch from brand A to brand B. That being said I never really got what the fuss was all about and while many teams manage to get along fine without the aid of sponsoring, I think banning tobacco sponsoring alltogether just rids teams of a legit way to get money.

        It’s just another way of taking away responsibility from people, which should either stop smoking themselves, or not start in the first place.
        Smoking starts on the school-yard. Not on television with F1 cars passing by.

        1. With all due respect, that may be your personal story Dennis, but the billions of dollars profit taken by Phillip Morris due to advertising campaigns would tend to disagree. It’s not just whether or not you take up smoking, its what you choose at the till when you do and all kinds of research suggests that this is where your sub-concious takes over more often than not.

          1. @John-H
            My whole point was that it does indeed work. But it works for choosing a brand.
            An F1 car with sponsoring won’t make you start smoking, if you never have before.

            I think it’s wrong to search the blame for people starting to smoke in sponsoring of auto racing!

          2. Fair point Dennis, well made.

            I think banning tobacco sponsoring alltogether just rids teams of a legit way to get money

            I’m not sure about this though! No form of tobacco advertising has a place in our society anymore. It’s not just about funding F1 teams.

        2. I’m a smoker, but I never got the urge to light up a Gitanes when I saw a Ligier on the screen.

          No, but it’s name / image recognition. Anyone buying cigarettes will notice the brand on the shelf. That alone is why advertising works. Global brand recognition. If you smoked and you went to buy a new brand of tobacco you’re naturally drawn towards images that you recognise.

          1. That is basically what I said a few lines further down.

          2. Bad news for Red Buill then, when the Nanny state cottons on that it’s a fizzy drink which can make you fat and rot your teeth.

      2. @keithcollantine

        If there was any truth in this assertion, why did the tobacco companies spend such enormous sums on advertising in F1 in the first place?

        The answer is obvious: because advertising does work.

        From personal experience I would have to agree, albeit only partially.

        I’m now an ex-smoker and F1 sponsorship didn’t lead me to take up smoking, but it did influence me to buy Marlboro because I was familiar with the brand. I later smoked Gauloises (Ligier), Lucky Strike (then a BAR and Moto GP sponsor) and, occasionally, Gitanes (also Ligier). I sometimes bought Winfield (Williams, 1998-99) but mainly because they were cheap. My last brand before giving up was Embassy, but I doubt their sponsorship of Graham Hill’s eponymous team in the mid-1970s was
        much of a factor.

        But that’s just the influence of advertising on me. As to why tobacco companies spend huge amounts on sponsorship, there may be other reasons. Game theory offers this alternative explanation for cigarette advertising, which is basically that tobacco firms kept spending on advertising because all the other firms did too. If an individual firm stopped advertising it lost out to competitors who continued to advertise.

      3. “If there was any truth in this assertion, why did the tobacco companies spend such enormous sums on advertising in F1 in the first place?”

        I know we’re heading further off topic here, but…

        AFAIK, the main reason they did was because all their competitors did.

        I have read elsewhere (I can’t remember where) that the tobacco companies were very gratefull to the governments of the world for banning tobacco advertising. The advertising they all did just cancelled each other out. Banning advertising did not seriously affect their sales, but it dramatically cut their costs, hence more profit.

        I may be wrong in this, but I did read it somewhere.

      4. When we banned tobacco advertising the tobacco companies’ profits went up signifcantly because they no longer had to fight each other through marketing. instead of spending millions on ads (F1 sponsorship as well) they paid all that to their shareholders. The statistics dont show that the ban on tobaccor advertising decreased the number of smokers. In fact the number of young people smoking actually went up since then.

        So who did it benefit? F1 lost millions, people still smoke.

        As a fan of the sport I think this was not a good thing. Yes it eneabled manufacturers to enter, but as you point out in your article, they can come and go as they please. Wheras small teams would have benefited from the revnues these firms brought. The likes of HRT and Virgin would have a btter chance to be competitive. Especially now during these troubled times.

    2. Can we stay on topic please everyone – the subject is car manufacturers in F1, not smoking.

  12. With the amount of supersition regarding the use of the number 13 in F1, I’m surprised no-one’s taking up the ’13th slot on the grid’.

    1. I’m *not* surprised, d’oh!

      1. I guess if you’re in the 13th slot your luck can’t get any worse!

  13. I have no problems with manufacturers. Be it in or out of F1.
    F1 will survive without them. However, the sport needs to make sure it gets Fans in all those countries, instead of Tracks.

    1. Which will not be helped with Sky being the only source of seeing all the action.

      1. Sorry, this reply was based on my own attitude to pay TV. Maybe many fans are going to purchase whatever’s necessary to continue as before.

  14. F1 is too expensive and too much of a closed shop for manufacturers to come in now. It is easier and cheaper for car manufacturers to be associated with Touring cars and the like, as the general public can associate these cars with the example in the showroom. A single seater does not as readily translate to the layman.

    The days of a manufacturer team have finished (with the exception of Ferrari). Merceedes will require success ASAP, or the plug will surely be pulled at some point in the next 2-3 years.

    A revolution in the whole of the F1 world looms. This is from the structure and size of a team, to the cost of the contracts to run a race, as well as the television contract costs. The gravy train is about to derail!

  15. I believe that while money would have played a part in forcing Honda, BMW and Toyota to leave, it cannot be the only reason, since teams like Torro Rosso, Sauber, Williams even HRT are still here. At some point these guys must have decided that F1 did not relate to the market they were catering to. Consider that Toyota designs cars mostly for a mid range segment and so have no benefit to derive from the Formula 1 brand. On the other hand Ferrari being a sports brand can get maximum leverage from F1. A case in point is Renault who have all but backed out of F1.

    While ugly F1 cars as a result of new rules is a new phenomenon altogether, I do not think that it would really put off a manufacturer seriously interested into formula 1. Manufacturers are always going to find it tough to remain committed to Formula 1 unless and until they can get some benefit from the F1 branding.

  16. I don’t think the future is made about having car manufacturers aboard or not – it’s made of sustainability of the teams. Teams are named after short-time sponsors, short-time investors or short-time manufacturers. That’s dull. Like in road cycling, where teams are named after their sponsors, are renamed after the sponsor pulls out, and not even the fans know how the teams of the year before are called now.

    Not only annoying for fans but also unwise in marketing and brand-builing matters. Why should I cheer for a team that was Benetton, Renault and even Lotus in only a couple of years?

  17. I wonder how any car manufacturer – particularly luxury builders who sell their cars partly on their aesthetics – can be happy to put their badge on the modern generation of disfigured F1 machines.

    I’m not arguing against this, but I’ve been thinking about the general uproar about the looks of the cars this year and how they might appear to people not intimately familiar with the sport. When the Caterham was first introduced, I, like most fans, wasn’t too taken with the looks of it — but when I sent photos to other people I know (who had varying degrees of familiarity with F1), it was clear they weren’t sure which part of it they were supposed to be objecting to. To many of them, it just looked like another one of those cars I never shut up about. ;-)

    Now I’m thinking about going around my department and showing people pairs of photos of different F1 cars compared with this year’s (and some others since 2009), to see what they think about them aesthetically. Maybe the majority of people will see the more recent cars as disfigured, but I wonder…

  18. The single biggest problem, IMO, is the amount of revenue which is siphoned out of the sport into the various Ecclestone vehicles.
    If the teams were able to retain a fairer share of the revenue the sport could become more sustainable.

  19. The top teams in F1 are Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Lotus and guess what they were all started by one person who totally believed in what they were or are doing.
    So if Mr C.A.R. Maker if you want to win the F1 championship, do everthing you can to get A. Newey or R.Brawn to run it, give them the money and a good engine and trnsmission and then get your nose out, and keep it out.

    The only Manufactures team that nearly got it right, so far, was Honda, who pulled the plug too early, but let Ross Brawn keep the car. Who then went on to win the championship.

  20. I think all these “brands” are making the right decision still if the economy is right any “brand” would love to see themselves on the best most technological championship of the world nothing beats F1 in engineering.

  21. Car manufacturers as teams come and go, but I guess the more worrying trend is lack of new engine suppliers. We’ll see in 2014 with the new rules if couple more suppliers enter the sport. If they do, there’s a good chance we’ll see another factory owned team in couple of years time. However, if no new suppliers appear then we can talk about possible “end of F1”.

  22. “where are the teams of the future going to come from?”

    I think the tech industry. It’s just a matter of time before we start seeing google cars and iCars, sure they start with a screen on the dash, but it’s just a matter of time before windscreens are replaced with 3d displays and steering wheels become simple input devices not unlike sim racing wheels.

    Give it 20 years and you will see Google and Apple (or whatever the new big tech companies are) up on the front row of the grid.

    Well 20 is possibly a bit short-sighted, but it will happen…

  23. I think a big part of manufacturers not being in F1 is how hard it is to compete. If you’re a new company coming in you don’t want to be beaten by your competition on the road just because you haven’t been in the sport as long and don’t have the “acquired” knowledge.

    A casual fan could look at Mercedes and be like McLaren and Ferrari must be better because they’re doing better on track… Also a reason I feel like those two are so peeved about Red Bull continuing to win.

    If I were a major company, I wouldn’t want to come in and spend three years mid field to hopefully get some results.

  24. I think most of us are missing the point, these companies want to be in motorsport to demonstrate their engineering prowess and as a by-product learn the stress limits possible for parts to be used in their retail products. F1 no longer allows teams to build a better engine and F1 aerodynamics are totally opposite to what is required in a road-car. For these reasons manufacturers are looking to other areas of motorsport, neither DTM or prototype racing are cheap but they allow development, touring cars are a good series for manufacturers wanting to find the limits of their small sedans whilst 1 design badge-racing (V8 s’cars, Nascar etc.) are pure billboard advertising at low cost. F1 must decide whether it wants to be a 1 design circus or the pinnacle of motorsport it can’t be both.

    1. As a further illustration I ask you; How long can Ferrari allow themselves to be beaten by a Renault powered car when they are not allowed to develop their engine in any way, and I remind you ( despite youthful nay-sayers) that for Ferrari it has always been the engine first and the rest built around it.

  25. It seems to me that FIA Touring cars and Endurance racing look far more enticing to manufacturers than F1.

    First, the majority of your research and development is spent in the off season, whereas in Formula One you’re pouring loads of funds into R&D for the whole season. Additionally, all the funds you spend on in-season R&D in F1 are somewhat a shot in the dark, because the only place you can test is during a race weekend. In Touring cars, generally, any in-season R&D is spent on either testing to find set-up or on mechanical reliability. In Endurance racing, your in-season testing largely consists of the actual races leading up to Le Mans with testing to confirm reliability lessons learned. The pre-season testing for both Touring cars and Endurance racing is far less restrictive than F1, which attractive to manufacturers because they can prove their products to a large extent before they even go racing.

    Second, I feel the most attractive aspect of both series, especially Endurance racing, over F1 is the, by far, the technical rules. Granted, all three series are very restrictive in terms of driver aids, aerodynamics and chassis to varying degree, but Touring cars and Endurance racing are far more open the F1 in terms of the engine regulations. In the upcoming endurance racing series there is going to be petrol engines, diesel engines, petrol hybrid and diesel hybrid engines, all with various numbers of cylinders, configurations (V, flat, straight, etc.), and aspiration (normal versus turbo). In touring cars you have normally aspirated diesel and petrol engines, and turbo-charged diesel and petrol engines, with the number of cylinders and configuration at you choosing as long as it’s 2000cc or less. What do we have in F1? A 2.4L 90 degree petrol fueled v8s come hell or high water. There is not a lot or room for innovation.

    Third, I believe the advertising power of Touring cars and Endurance racing is far more direct when you are trying to reach the general public. Clearly, a Chevrolet Cruze or Seat Leon touring car are very easy to associate with the actual road versions in a advertisement. I personally believe that the LMP1 coupes (closed cockpit), like the Peugeot 908, Audi R18, and the new Toyota TS030, are show stoppers because their appearance holds race car, futuristic prototype, and a sense that maybe, just maybe, you sneak one onto the motorway, in essence, capturing your imagination when you see on. I personally think the Group C cars, and the GT1s/LM GTPs for 1998/98 are some of the most amazing cars I’ve ever seen. Additionally, the wider range of engine options in Endurance racing gives a manufacturer the ability to show and advertise their engineering expertise in overall, and with a certain kind of drivetrain which they can then blanket over their entire road vehicle range. However, F1 cars are race car in purpose, functionality, and looks. The visual appearance of an F1 car works for an F1 fan, because in an F1 car we see the physical manifestation of the pinnacle of speed and driving talent, which makes them my proxy beautiful. However, when the someone else sees a F1 car, they see a strange looking race car which bares no resemblance to any car they see on the road or at the car exhibition other than the fact it has four wheels. So, if you are successful in F1, have the engineering expertise, but difficulty associating it with your road cars. Hence, F1 success is harder to advertise.

    So, it seems to me that if I was a manufacturer, I could race a touring car, that looks exactly like my road car, with an engine that is very similar to my road car, that’s proven and use it to directly advertise for that road car. Or, I could beat every other manufacturer at Le Mans with, for example, a LMP1 coupe that is test-proven, that captures the imagination with its fast, futuristic looks and is powered by, for example, an electric motor that charges off the brakes and a petrol engine generator and advertise my engineering precision and expertise. Or, I could join F1. I could build a car which has had limited pre-season testing, yet has cost me a huge amount of money . The car is ugly and probably is not very quick because it is my first year completing and I haven’t found that magic F1 voodoo for aerodynamics. I’ll still spend more huge sums of money during the season on parts that are only wind-tunnel tested and will probably only maintain the speed gap to my competitors rather than narrow it. Though, I will probably give up the barrage of parts around September, and say I’m focusing on next year’s car, unless, of-course, I’m stuck in a tight battle for 7th (which you can’t really advertise) in the constructors championship. I will fire a plenty of extremely-high paid engineers, and hire even higher paid engineers. I will sit on the FOTA board, and talk a lot about cutting costs, and how to cut costs, and if the new turbo engines should have 4 cylinders, or, even 6 cylinders, or maybe only 3 cylinders, because all the major teams on FOTA just want to kill time to keep their precious status-quo since a major change in regulations might topple them from the top of the ladder, putting in jeopardy all that sponsor money they’ve tied up and need desperately to try to stay competitive.

    At this point in time, with the politics, money, and regulations being what they are in F1, why would a manufacurer join?

    1. Well said @nutritional, who doesn’t remember the success of Audi all wheel drive in the touring car series leading to Audi becoming a desirable brand again or BMWs rear wheel drive winning the starts or Jaguars XK engined cars winning Le Mans beating such legends as Ferrari, Maseratti and Aston Martin. These are the reasons manufacturers want to be in motorsports.

  26. F1 is insanely expensive, much more than ever before, a BIG Brain and good fortune do not make a winner anymore…hundreds of millions in search of a tenth is too cash hungry………..but its not just F1:-
    Rallying – struggling for years now with just Citroen and Ford, it now has no commercial rights holder and BMW/Mini has shot its chances in the foot due to cash shortage. VW plan to arrive next year but into this current mess?? i am sure they must be reconsidering.
    WTC – Chevy only last year was a joke. Honda may be looking for the quick win but where is the coverage and the kudos??
    WEC/Le Mans – the BIG RACE will be unaffected as always. However this is a relatively cheap sport for a multinational (Audis favourite trick)and Peugeot were only interested in the big race really, which they struggled to win even with the fastest car. ALMS has struggled for a decent LMP1 entry in the past few years and TBH the GT cars keep the interest going (well supported by Chevy, BMW, Ferrari, Porsche).
    Moto GP – shortage of manufacturers has led to a depleted field and a half baked idea for this year to increase the numbers. This sport is cash hungry and it shows.
    CART/Indy – a shadow of its former self even after merging, most speedway races looked pretty empty of spectators. Again the BIG Race is the exception.

    So what is doing well? Supposedly! :-
    NASCAR – old tech, big fields, lots of races, great spectacle….but many crowds looked down and they will have to be careful but I am sure they will do well.
    Aussie V8s – old tech, big fields, great racing. Could we have a European version please?

    Maybe High Tech and super massive budgets are not the way to go.

    1. NASCAR isn’t as low budget as they like to make themselves out to be. Granted, you can field a car in the Sprint Cup Series for way less than trying to field a car in F1. In fact, you can buy a completed Cup car and go racing, but the teams winning all the races, like Hendrick, Joe Gibbs, Rousch and Penske have huge budgets that can somewhat hidden in divided departments (I should point out that Tony Stewart won with a car, engine, and technical support for Hendrick motorspots before someone brings that up). Teams have been recruiting F1 level engineers. Hendrick, Rousch, Joe Gibbs, and Ganassi have been building their own engines and simply branding them whatever manufacturer’s badge they are running on the front of their car. And the engines they have been producing are CARBURETED, 5.7L PUSH-ROD V8s that revs to 9500 rpm! That is not a low-budget engine. Additionally, Indy stars like Montoya, Amendinger, Franchitti, and others have all tried their hand at NASCAR because it is more lucrative than Indy. Honestly, I’d say the low-budget NASCAR teams, being the limited-schedule, start and park, and Daytona only teams are used as a PR smoke and mirror show by NASCAR to make themselves out as the still being the 1960’s “good ol’ boys” where anyone can race, when in fact they are very commercial and very high budget sport dominated by a few teams, just like F1.

      Beyond budget, they’ve been having problems since 2008 with attendance at a lot of their events, and sponsorship, with the big teams having to cut back or merge teams a few times. But that is more of a recession issue than an interest issue.

      I’d argue that the small-budget, low-tech form on motorsport in North America is actually Indy. Outside of Ganassi and Penske, who win everything period, the teams seemingly have a truck and a hot-dog stand for pit-facilities, most of them couldn’t come up with a race strategy for the life of them, most of their drivers crash-out at the first corner because their reckless and undisciplined and hence couldn’t find a drive anywhere else, and the Indy cars are so artifcial. So what if they can go 200mph around an oval? So can a lot of other kinds of cars. The cars remind me of a Karmann-Ghia where it looks sportly, but it is actually just a new body on an old Volkswagen Beetle. There’s nothing innovative or boundary-pushing about their cars, no cutting edge engines or aerodynamics – they just look it: made to look the part. The Indy series looks like a joke and it shows commercially. The only network who was willing to pay for the TV rights other than the Indy 500 was Versus, whom couldn’t provide good commentary if their lives depended on it. All the series really has is the Indy 500, and then just some bad street courses, old, ugly aerodromes, road courses with no grand stands because they’re for club racing, and sparsely attended ovals, some of which NASCAR does not even bother to go ro. I would not be surprised if Australian V8 supercars starts beating Indy for TV ratings in the US in the next few years.

      I think NASCAR does well in the US because they have the money and look like they have money. That appearance on money, big sponsors, and drivers with huge paychecks gains NASCAR credit with the viewer because it means that their championship is something worth winning. Indy does bad because it looks like a low-budget, seat of you pants joke and hence gets treated like a joke.

      I don’t think that a strictly low-budget approach is the way to go nor do I think super-high budget is the way to go. One thing that the WEC, FIA World Touring Cars, Le Mans and NASCAR have in common over F1 is the ability for teams to buy cars to race, and to race limited schedules while also letting the manufacturers and big private teams run somewhat of a muck with huge budgets and multiple car entries. Perhaps that is the better formula. It gives you the competitive teams with the glamor, and the money, and the low-budget teams who fill you grid, race each other to death, and complete the picture of a healthy championship.

      1. I should add that the engines in NASCAR even had computers, let alone being carbureted push-rod V8s pushing 9500rpm. To get that many rpm out of an engine like that is no small feat. Also, I’m not saying that every driver in Indy is reckless and undisciplined, but unfortunately, many of them are.

        1. don’t even have computers***

      2. What you write about NASCAR is pretty good a picture @nuritional, but when you describe IndyCar, I think you get a bit carried away with hyperbole to highlight how much its come down.

        Sure, its come down far since the Champ car days in the ’90s. But it not that horrible as you picture it. And the new car is another step up to being a nice racing series all of its own.

  27. Im not sure if a reason for BMW pulling out of various motorsports disciplines was because of fuel efficiency. BMW are one of the most sustainable car companies and produce some of the worlds most efficient engines in their road cars, winning numerous awards. Indeed, they were the only team to back the introduction of KERS on the grounds that it could be transferred into road car technology to make them more efficient.

  28. I think there are three factors here:

    One is that there are plenty of other motorsports where success directly influences customer perception of the product. The examples are WTCC, BTCC, etc. For more extravagant brands the World Endurance Championship helps them build their image. Even the Dakar (where BMW made its presence felt through the MINI Countryman-based machines as did Toyota in 2012, and before that Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Porsche, etc.) provides the right platform for manufacturers to showcase their skills that are more relevant for real life use.

    Secondly, competing in all these championships is still cheaper than competing in F1. And these series give reasonable global exposure, though perhaps not of the level of F1.

    And that’s point 3. Inspite of the enormous global exposure of F1, manufacturers don’t find it vital to particicpate because of the costs and also, I believe, the over-reliance on aerodynamics. Manufacturers will be well aware of the beating a drinks manufacturer is giving established manufacturers in F1 these days. It’s all because of aerodynamics.

    Car makers know that their skills in making powerful as well as fuel efficient engines, or environmentally friendly machines won’t result in a successful F1 assault because some Adrian Newey in a drinks or perfume manufacturer’s team will beat them squarely. Just look at how much Mercedes-Benz is struggling.

    Unless this over-reliance on aero and these crazy gimmicks such as DRS are thrown out and F1 achieves a total makeover there is no reason why any automobile manufacturer that values its image would want to start an F1 team. Mercedes-Benz made the mistake. No one else will follow.

  29. It will compete against its principle market rivals Mercedes and Audi in the DTM (Germany’s touring car championship) with a version of its M3.

    There has also been speculation that they could join V8 Supercars in 2013, running under Car of the Future regulations, though they have said that in order to enter, they would have to be able to use parts from the M3 DTM car to cut costs. After Nissan picked up the four-car Kelly Racing garage, BMW has been linked to the only our four-car outfit on the grid, Dick Johnson Racing, which would be quite the coup given that DJR has run Fords exclusively since the 1980s.

  30. Nor should we underestimate the important of more prosaic considerations. I wonder how any car manufacturer – particularly luxury builders who sell their cars partly on their aesthetics – can be happy to put their badge on the modern generation of disfigured F1 machines.

    I’d suggest they are more concerned with putting their badge on a car which will not be able to break the dominance of Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren.

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