F1 grid sizes fell to 22 cars this year following the departure of HRT and there are concerns it could fall again as a difficult economy and steeply rising costs in 2014 put smaller teams under pressure.
Introducing customer cars – allowing front-running teams to sell old chassis – has been raised as a potential solution but faces opposition from some teams. However some of them are willing to consider three-car teams as an alternative to increase grid sizes.
“We’re not a supporter of customer cars,” said Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn. “We think the identity of the teams is important, the fact that the teams design and build their own cars is important but however if Formula One faced a situation where we didn’t have sufficient cars on the grid, then of course a three car team is a possibility, but only in those circumstances.”
Lotus team principal Eric Boullier agreed: “I think if F1 needs to go one path, it is to guarantee a number of cars on the grid and obviously a number of teams running three cars would be, for me, a better solution.”
The principal of F1’s smallest team Marussia, John Booth, said: “I think I’m correct in saying that under current regulations if the numbers of cars on the grid falls below a certain number then certain teams are required to run three cars but as far as I know there’s been no discussion about three car teams in the near future.”
“Certainly I’ve not been part of the discussions and I assume it would need a big change in regulations to achieve that.”
As for whether his team could easily add a third entry he added: “We’re finding two cars tough enough without running three.”
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has repeatedly urged F1 to allow teams to run three cars. Team principal Stefano Domenicali added it was a possibility that could be explored if car numbered fell.
“We are in a situation where for sure we are different in philosophies with the teams that are in the championship, there are different situations,” said Domenicali, “so I think that solution, that situation can be driven really if some teams will not be there in the future.”
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Image © Ferrari/Ercole Colombo