Ecclestone wants customer cars for new teams

F1 Fanatic round-up

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Narain Karthikeyan, HRT, Barcelona, 2012

In the round-up: Bernie Ecclestone suggests allowing new teams to run customer cars for three years before building their own.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Bernie urges new team help (Sky)

“What I’ve been proposing is, perhaps, some of the teams at the bottom end of the grid should be able to run last year’s constructor’s car. So one of the other teams that you mentioned [HRT and Marussia] could run last year’s McLaren, or last year’s Red Bull, for three years until they get themselves together and then they have to go back to be a constructor.”

Lehman Brothers to sell F1 stake for $1.5bn (The Guardian)

“The collapsed US bank Lehman Brothers has committed itself to cashing in its stake in Formula One motor racing within two years, according to documents released as part of the ongoing unwinding of the company. The stake is expected to yield a $1.5bn (950m) payout to Lehman’s creditors, who are owed $450bn.”

Pollock says PURE engine very advanced (Autosport)

“We could be ready to race it in 2013. But the regulations stipulate something else.”

Vitaly Petrov Q&A: Caterham and I can grow together (F1)

“I think it’s impossible to have a Russian GP without a Russian driver! It is one of the biggest motivations for me – to make sure I’m on the grid in 2014. It must be the same for any athlete in any sport. To be able to compete at home means everything to you and it’s important to me that I’m there and in a car that I can really compete in. ”

Montezemolo: "The truth will only come out in Melbourne" (Ferrari)

“No matter how it goes in Melbourne, I would like to remind everyone that this will be the longest championship in the history of Formula 1 and we certainly won’t be able to draw conclusions after just one race.”

MotorSport Magazine via Twitter

“Fact of the day: Sky makes 360 million a month in subscriptions. And that’s a low estimate. No wonder it can throw so much at F1 coverage!”

Comment of the day

Andy Darley on Maria de Villota becoming a test driver at Marussia. Andy previously wrote an article for F1 Fanatic on Superleague Formula, where de Villota has raced in recent years:

Look, I’m a huge believer in bringing more women into traditionally male roles in motorsport, including race seats. When my site was active, we were outspoken cheerleaders on the subject. I believe one of the F1 circus’s biggest lost opportunities was letting Simona de Silvestro slip away to American racing, and if I had a few spare millions down the back of the sofa I’d be investing it in Alice Powell.

But Maria de Villota has as much business being sat in an F1 car as I have. If you watched Superleague you’d have seen she was embarrassingly bad. Slow, stubborn when being lapped, and prone to hitting other cars. Some Superleague drivers were very good indeed, but the tail of the field was weak or inexperienced or both – and she was worse than the worst of them by quite a margin.

Yesterday when the press release went out from Mark Blundell’s 2MB that they were representing her, it was a real shocker. This goes a long way to explaining it.

But, please, no-one get the idea that this is the long-awaited and (for me at least) long hoped-for arrival of a female challenger in F1. She’s not up to the job. It’s not her age, it’s not her gender, it’s not even that money is certainly involved – it’s what she’s like behind the wheel.

As the old saying goes, she couldn’t drive a nail into a plank of wood.
Andy Darley

From the forum

Site updates

I’ve had a couple of complaints from users who’ve noticed extra entries for some races appearing in the F1 Fanatic Google Calendar.

I’ve been unable to replicate the problem myself, and one of the people who noticed it also observed that it cleared up by itself within 24 hours. I’m at a loss to explain what’s wrong so if anyone can shed some light please do.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Icthyes and Les!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Mike Gascoyne criticised Michael Schumacher who had complained about Jarno Trulli’s efforts to keep him behind during the 2002 Australian Grand Prix.

“His comments about Jarno defending his position were pathetic and inappropriate,” said Gascoyne. “Everyone wants to see racing and there were two guys racing for position. Michael had the better car and it’s up to him to pass.”

Trulli had crashed out while running second and trying to keep Schumacher behind:

Author information

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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73 comments on “Ecclestone wants customer cars for new teams”

  1. Keith, your “On This Day” doesn’t cite a year except in the YouTube video title which will be unavailable on non-flash (mobile) browsers. I think as Trulli, Schumacher and Gascoyne have raced together in a contemporary context, you should include a year.

    1. Done, thanks.

      1. Speaking of that YouTube video, wish we could have those V10’s back :(

      2. Keith, i added my birthday to that list, and still no birthday shout out for me? :(

        1. @Keith Collantine so you see my comment :)

          1. @KeithCollantine , i will get the hang of this lol

        2. @prekeel Afraid if you’ve only added it recently it might not have been soon enough to be added for this year.

          But have a very happy birthday anyway!

        3. welll, @preekel, I wish you a very nice and happy birthday then!

          1. and a Happy Birthday to @icthyes as well.

            and the same for Les

    2. You mean Apple?

  2. Boy, what a genius we have in Bernie, nobody else in their wildest dreams would have thought of customer cars for new teams, brilliant leadership. Why does Torro Rosso keep popping into my mind when all I want to do is worship Bernie?

    1. Obviously that’s misconstruing the topic. Torro Rosso is very capable of building their own cars, and therefor they should. Otherwise F1 turns on to a very dangerous road, which is hugely against the spirit of F1.

      The new teams issue is different, that allows a team to compete for three years, and gives them time to learn and develop. What it does not do is give them a free pass. I think it is an excellent suggesting, one that’s not been given much thought in the upper echelons of F1.

      1. Unfortunately Mike the topic is one that has been given thought by the upper echelons of the sport, always negatively. Torro Rosso only had a Red Bull chassis for one year and that was the only year they were competitive.

        1. They have it since the begining in 2006, until 2009. The year were team that used to be costumer stoped being so was in 2010.

          1. I stand corrected, 2009 was the first time I remember them being there, I guess due to their not being either top-ten or tail enders.

        2. @Mike @HoHum Yes, they had someone else’s car, and couldn’t develop it by themselves but had to wait for the parent team to graciously hand them updates.

          And thus, since the end of 2009 they had to gather a team to create and develop the car, and only now are they getting back up to speed on having a car they can work on during the year. Good that they kept some of the knowledge of how to do that at the top, or it would have taken them longer.

          And that’s the problem: teams would have to reverse-engineer the cars, and it would take effort away from learning how to build a basic car. it could only be done with far-reaching inter team cooperation, which would risk muddying competition, and even then it risks putting the team almost back to where they were after wards.

    2. Its a rubbish idea anyway…. for as long as the FIA change the rules every season then “running last year’s car” will not be possible, let alone competitive.

      Bernie is just flying kites – it can’t be a serious idea.

      We used to have some stability in the rules, when was it that we started to get rule changing every season ?

  3. A good suggestion, which if I might be so bold, should have been made back in 2010.

    1. Or rather when Prodrive tried to enter.

      1. @matt90 Agreed. Though wasn’t Red Bull effectively putting it into practice back then? Red Bull Technology was, officially, the chassis constructor for Red Bull and Toro Rosso, wasn’t it?

        1. Yeah, but the long term prospects of that practice couldn’t be guaranteed, so Prodrive couldn’t risk committing.

          1. I see, I see. That said, if part of chassis construction is paid for by customer teams, would you find it a bit lucrative? Though it raises the problem of other teams jostling for a particular chassis.

    2. Good suggestion? Hardly. If Virgin or HRT was racing last year with a Mclaren or Ferrari car they might have won over Williams and Williams could have closed shop, also Caterham wouldn’t be trying so hard to advance.
      In the end if you can just rent a car no one will try too hard and even teams like Williams and Sauber will rent one cause it will be stupid to throw millions on making a car and getting beat.
      Sorry i like the little guys and i am a firm believer in getting the cost down so they can have all the chance to work in an environment that the cost doesn’t explode(unlike Bernie that likes to see the cost skyrocket) but teams should still be a racing team and not a rental shop.

  4. Poor Craig Pollock, Bernie will find a way to screw him over now he has served his purpose, probably by allowing backmarker teams to buy customer cars complete with engines.

    1. That’s not what Bernie said, as this is those teams 3rd year, it will only apply, if enacted, to new teams in the future.

      1. Which new teams would those be? And where on the grid would they be ?

        1. The one that fills the remaining slot, and the two that eventually (the sooner the better) replace the current rubbush teams.

          1. r u b b i s h

          2. replacing teams ? no way, you have to buy them out so they can make money on deal so Bernie can talk about I N V E S T I N G in F1.

          3. @Kenny, @HoHum Wouldn’t that mean HRT and Marussia would be chugging along trying to find the seconds to the midfield, while a newcomer would breeze past them, and Caterham in 2013 with the 2012 McLaren or Red Bull, taking the fight to Williams?

            HRT may not be in FOTA (nor mid-field Sauber & STR), but I would think Marussia and Williams having little trouble convincing FOTA and then FIA that’s not a great idea.

          4. @bosyber

            Yes, yes it would. And that’s a problem.

  5. I personally think it’s a rubbish idea. A year old RB is going to be considerably quicker than a current Sauber or Williams. That seems a little harsh on the midfield. I personally have no problem with the teams at the back. They’re far better than many teams from the past and they do seem to be progressing slightly (other than Marussia perhaps).

    1. If it is purely the chassis then that might not be the case. The homologated chassis can still be altered a lot I believe (the new back of the Red Bull), not to mention all aero appendages.

    2. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      8th March 2012, 13:09

      yes but it’s just the bodywork, not the engine. If I were RedBull I would also give the most naked car as possible, without my moving front wing or any other gadgets. And make the new team look for a decent engine. If the engine doesn’t fit into the chassis I’m giving it’s not my business. I don’t know if in English you have a quote like one in Spanish we have which is “even when a monkey dresses in silk, it’s still a monkey”

  6. I don’t think a year old RBR chassis will be quicker than a brand new midfielders car, and anyway the engine may well be different, possibly the gearbox too, not to mention how the new team sets the car up, develops the car over the season and how the drivers can drive it.

    By the end of the season it will be a two year old car, and if they have minimal development on it, having not built the car themselves in the first place, I think you would find them struggling even more than they do now, not to mention teams not wanting to hand over a car in the first place as it would surely unearth a lot of hidden tricks and secrets.

    Imagine if McLaren got hold of a Red Bull for a month, and the things they would learn!

    Bernie throws these names around but far more likely is the whole Cosworth situation where Dallara or someone else builds a common chassis with input from the teams (like HRT tried to do) and they go from there, rather than the grid becoming Ferrari 2012 F1 Team, Ferrari 2011 F1 Team, McLaren 2012 F1 Team, McLaren 2011 F1 Team, Red Bull 2012 F1 Team, Red Bull 2011 F1 Team, Mercedes 2012 F1 Team, Mercedes 2011 F1 Team etc.

  7. Formula One has to have the same rules for every team. If new teams where given any dispensation of rules that older teams have to abide by then we would truely have a two divison formula. I don’t think anybody wants that.

    1. The rules could easily be written in such a way that the system would be fair. For instance, any team that buys a chassis is obligated to use it – they cannot buy one simply to stop another team from getting it. Only teams that finish in certain positions in the WCC may be eligible to buy another team’s chassis, and they may only be able to buy a chassis under certain conditions; ie, the may buy the chassis design that was used at the start of the year, rather than the design that finished the season.

      1. I Love The Pope
        8th March 2012, 13:48

        Making things “fair” and giving everybody a trophy ruins the very essence of competition and sport.

  8. Re COTD :
    This is clearly a pay position. The language of the press release is all about her advancing her career, her sampling F1 machinery. So whatever she’s doing, it about career progression of some sort. Perhaps even to boost her credentials out of the drivers seat. (Higher profile, better marketing, better CV). It may even help her get in to Indy, LMS or some other high profile series.

    1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      8th March 2012, 13:12

      Boost her career at 31? So when will she get into F1, at 40? She ‘s probably as talented as Schum or Rubens, … well if she’s at least as talented as DeLaRosa it could be Okay

  9. The more older Bernie gets the more mad he gets

  10. I think Bernie’s idea could work, if applied properly. For example, if teams like Caterham, Marussia and HRT could only buy the “base” model of car – the version of the chassis that was raced at the first Grand Prix of the season – and had no access to any developmental data from the season, it could work. They would have a reasonably-competitive car, but one that they themselves would have to develop. By the end of the season, it would be a vastly different car to the version raced the previous year, and maybe serve as a platform for that team to develop their future cars.

    1. I believe you are right if ever they can stop changing the rules every year. I just get sick of hearing Bernie introducing brilliant and essential ideas that previously were stupid and detrimental.

      1. I think the difference lies in the reasons for making the suggestions in the first place. When Bernie suggests customer cars, it’s because he wants to see the back-enders be competitive, even if that is only to prove the FIA right in their decision to open up the grid. When Ferrari suggest customer cars, it’s because they want political leverage over another team, which they can then use to influence the rules in coming years.

    2. But if that’s the case @prisoner-monkeys, wouldn’t it mean they’d get a car that they don’t know and don’t have data on (even though it is available).

      And that thus they would have to do a lot of work to understand before being able to get a decent set-up, let alone develop the thing. And they probably couldn’t do that until the end of the previous season (as the car’s in use still …), so even less time than currently.

      And in the end, when they have to create a new car by themselves, all that effort hasn’t gone in creating an understanding of how to create a basic working car to develop from, but only in enhancing a complicated beast they tamed at best, I’d think.

      1. wouldn’t it mean they’d get a car that they don’t know and don’t have data on

        That’s the intention. There’s nothing to say that they have to buy the car once the season is over – they could easily purchase it some time in August or September and spend the rest of the season reverse-engineering it.

        Of course, they could also purchase the data used to build the car in the first place. My idea is to simply draw a line in the sand: they can purchase a car that was competitive at the beginning of the season, and all the information that went into developing it in the first place, but their ultimate success will depend on their ability to develop that car over the course of the following season. They just can’t use the data that the parent team used throughout the previous season and develop the car the same way. Ultimately, the two teams start off with the same cars – but because of the differences in the development, they finish the season with vastly different cars.

        1. And what’s to stop McLaren outbidding HRT for the RedBull chassis?

          You’d have to prevent ‘top’ teams from buying other ‘top’ teams cars, which creates potentially a 3 tier championship. I can’t see how any start-up outfit would wait for a top team to finish with last season’s car before buying the chassis or any other gubbins.

          If HRT has bid for Mercedes chassis this year they wouldn’t have been able to do much testing before the season started, meaning they would likely be even further behind than had they been developing their own chassis and aero concepts from the end of the preceding season.

          1. i think if something like this happens, the only chassis to buy will be from midfield teams (especially those with founding problems), because i think none of the top teams (and they have enought founding to not to do so) wants to show their ”tricks an secret parts” or they will be selling their cars very basic/demo and with their ”secrets” modified/changed

  11. why not instead of giving them an old car have one company lola for example, develop a chassis with the cosworth engine priced cheaply for back flied teams so a spec midfield f1 car which could lead to bigger girds and privateers.

    1. This is just what Bernie wants, an off-the-shelf competitive car that eventually all the teams will use thereby turning all that money previously wasted on trying to build a better car into profits for the team owners to stop them trying to get more of Bernies’ share for themselves.

      1. COTD for me. That’s what Bernie is all about in the end.

      2. exactly but Bernie should not do it at the expenses of midfield teams which will now have to buy cars to compete also why don’t the poor teams just run gp2 instead of f1 I am sick of hearing f1 is to expansive f1 costs to much blah,blah, blah this is f1 the highest level of motorsports! if u don’t have the money may I recommend the teams look for something else? f1 is not suppose to be fair or easy!

  12. Happy Birthday @Icthyes and @Les!!

    1. Definitely, have a great day @Les and @Ichtyes :)

      1. It’s @Icthyes‘ birthday? Have an amazing day, my friend! Do let us know what you get up to. :D

  13. good to hear Lehman coming out of their troubles.

    1. Do I hear irony ?

      1. Or indeed sarcasm?

  14. the bigger, better half of the grid should sell current model cars to the broke, struggling half. reform the constructors’ title into the team title and be done with it. i would also allow for teams fielding cars by non-participating manufacturers, TRD for example.

    in all the world, there aren’t a dozen outfits that are both able and willing to compete for victory in formula one. its exclusivity has taken f1 past irrelevance and towards eventual extinction as the price of merely watching spirals out of control.

    1. The problem with the idea is that the teams who sell a chassis on are going to want something more than money in return – especially if the customer team were to experience success with that car. At the very least, they’d probably want half the constructor points the customer team scores (ie if Marussia buy a McLaren chassis and score ten points, McLaren would want five of them).

      That’s why I suggested selling the basic model of a chassis used the previous year (ie the chassis that was first raced) and nothing else, leaving the customer team to use their own resources to develop the car over the year. By the end of the season, the car will be very different to its parent chassis at the end of the previous year.

      1. This is a really hard one – full of issues and problems whichever way you go. I can’t see how a supplying constructor would never want something in return. Short of having a spec series I don’t think you’ll ever solve these problems. Another downside is good ideas come from all teams, even the minnows (just look at this year’s Sauber) so spreading customer cars throughout the grid might stifle some of this.

        Maybe have a cut off for the team(s) which is consistently unable to qualify within, say 104% of the fastest Q1 time – whoever consistently falls outside that threshold is offered the fastest car next year (I agree it should be the first iteration not the fully developed car), adapted of course for the current rules of the relevant year.

        If there’s more than one team, they all get the same car but it’s then left to them to develop it. In many respects, this might be fairest to both teams and drivers – the teams get to show how good they are at developing and the drivers (who are usually either rookies or drivers accused of paying their way) at least get a platform in which they can demonstrate their ability. At least that way teams like Marussia and HRT are able to turn up at the first winter test – the current situation (regardless of who is to blame) just means the small teams like those are fighting a losing battle from before the season has even started.

      2. You have a very valid point there @prisoner-monkeys

        At the very least, they’d probably want half the constructor points the customer team scores (ie if Marussia buy a McLaren chassis and score ten points, McLaren would want five of them).

        Indeed it would make sense to give constructors points based on the finishes by cars from that constructor, giving only points to constructors (i.e. the entity developping and building the signifiant parts of the car) for this championship, not to each team.
        In that case we could have a drivers championship, a team championhip (being more or less equivalent to the current constructors championship) and a constructors championship. It would also mean an opportunity for redoing the way money is distributed.

  15. I don’t like Bernie’s idea at all. It would cause so many complications. And what an outcry there would be if a new team took points away from established teams within those first 3 years.

    Much better would be for Bernie to give new teams guaranteed earnings for the first 3 years so that they have the resources to build up their operations and knowledge base rather than simply worrying about whether they afford to stay in the sport.

  16. What a load of Tosh,
    Last years car is never as competitive as this years, that’s called progress.
    Rule changes every year rule out the use of last years cars anyway.
    And, pray tell, which competitive team is going to pass down a fully working competitive chassis to a newer team in the hope that they may get beaten.
    It won’t, can’t and shouldn’t happen. Regulate the cost more, stop exaggerated inflated parts pricing (oh its for F1 double it) and younger teams may well be competitive.

  17. In theory this is a good idea. It allows a new team to step up into F1 and run a car, without the expense of creating a whole new F1 level design set-up. This happened in the Sixites/Seventies where new teams started by purchasing a chassis and engine. Examples of teams begining like this are Williams and Tyrell.

    In practice, this will never happen with Ferrari/Mclaren/Red Bull chassis, as they would not allow their design’s to be used and investigated by personnel outside of their respective organizations, which would inevitably happen.

    1. Examples of teams begining like this are Williams and Tyrell.

      … and Ferrari, too, if I remember rightly. Didn’t they begin their illustrious history racing secondhand Maseratis?

      1. No, Scuderia Ferrari began in 1929 as the official Alfa Romeo racing team and continued as such until 1937 when Alfa took back control of the team and rebranded it Alfa Corse. Ferrari left Alfa soon after and began building his own cars.

        1. I stand corrected, sir!

    2. I knew there would be a downside somewhere!

  18. I don’t think Bernie’s idea is a bright one, really. Specially with how the rules change every single year.

    Teams might end up with a car that’s been designed around something which is not there anymore. Like the blown diffuser, or another type of tyres.

    Plus, I doubt the top teams would be happy to give the smaller ones an opportunity to see all the secrets behind the car they designed in the first place. Even Pirelli struggled to get an old car to test tyres…

    They should allow the new teams to test more often, run 3 cars at practice, get more television rights… something, to make it easier for them.

  19. Maybe at Melbourne Airport there will be a bus for HRT and Marussia waiting to take them to a Hertz dealership in order to pick up their race cars! That would be even more practical as then they wouldn’t have to pay for any logistics at all, maybe Bernie could pay for their airfare too just for good measure.
    To pay for his added costs, I am sure the good people of Melbourne can afford an extra $500 per ticket to see F1 race in Australia. Ho Hum!
    What a complete flake Bernie is becoming and an embarrassment!
    To even suggest such a think shows the level of arrogance this man has and complete lack of respect he has for those within F1. Why should the likes of Force India, Mercedes, Lotus et all spend millions in development and building the worlds finest race cars when others can just buy them. Whats next, Ron Dennis dressed up as Arthur Daley flogging year old McLaren’s off a lot in South London! I have never heard something so ludacrious from the little dwarf!

  20. artificial racer
    8th March 2012, 16:22

    Bernie’s idea is ridiculous. If you want to help new teams, there are only two ways it should be considered:

    1) Financially

    2) If you really want to artificially help their performance, just do so straight out by giving them help in the aero department. For example, allow them to use extra winglets. Think of them as “training wheels”.

  21. Good to see that Bernie is warming to the backmarkers a little bit. A year or so ago he was jumping all over them and practically saying they should be thrown out of the sport.

    Not his best idea. But not his worst.

    Nothing could be worse than that ridiculous ‘sprinklers’ episode (though I do think he was winding us up).

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