F1 should put “healthy grid” before three-car teams

2014 Singapore Grand Prix

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Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham, Monza, 2014F1 team principals believe the sport needs to do more to prevent existing teams from dropping out instead of preparing to replace them by allowing larger teams to expand to three-car entries.

If the sport continues to lose teams, others could be required to enter third cars to keep grid numbers up. But Force India’s Vijay Mallya pointed out the sport could help sustain vulnerable teams by distributing its revenues more fairly.

“I’m a firm believer, as I’ve always said, that every effort should be made to make sure all the teams, big and small, survive and race,” said Mallya during today’s press conference. “That’s part of the DNA of Formula One.”

“But the regulations and the agreements do provide that if the grid is less than 20 cars then participating teams will race a third car. So that’s something everybody signed up to as well. I hope it never comes to that.

“As I said I think the DNA for Formula One should be preserved. I will repeat once again that I will try and persuade the decision-makers, the commercial rights holders, that they should look very seriously at a more fair and equitable revenue share model so that we don’t have to answer such questions all the time.”

Claire Williams echoed that view, saying the sport should do more to look after the teams it already has.

“To be having this conversation now shows just where we are as a sport,” she said. “We need to be working harder to ensure that we protect the teams we have on our grid, to ensure that competition that I don’t necessarily think having three-car teams brings.”

“We want to have a healthy grid of ten teams all fielding two cars, not four teams fielding three cars. That’s not, for Williams, that’s not the DNA of our sport.”

2014 Singapore Grand Prix

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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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    29 comments on “F1 should put “healthy grid” before three-car teams”

    1. I agree.. better a healthy grid than 3 car teams. I do miss the early 90’s with so many small teams (so many that they had to do the pre-qualifies)

      howeve… in the case there is a third car; maybe it would be interesting if it will be a wild card (maybe competing in a different championship); like a rookie has to be in the third car, or a driver younger than a certain age (say 20) etc.

      1. I’ve often thought a wildcard system could work too, but restricted to one per season, per team.

        A third Ferrari at Monza, a third Williams at Silverstone… You could have the teams choose the event they want in constructors order.

        Bernie gets his third car itch scratched, we get some interesting driver cameos and teams like McLaren and Force India don’t get pushed into no-points-all-season territory.

        1. Yes, I’d like to see it brought in gradually like that, not steamrollering the whole F1 tradition and forcing everyone to do it.
          Third cars gave a start in F1 to Andretti, Mansell, Villeneuve and no doubt others. Would be good to have some of that excitement again with real talent coming through, but once in a while, not every race.

      2. Two simple words that have led to teh sustainability of several sports, Premier League, NFL, etc:
        “Revenue Sharing”

        It’s not just a way forward, it’s the *only* real way forward.

    2. Berny was quoted saying “I would rather see Ferrari with three cars, or any of the other top teams with three cars, than having teams that are struggling.”
      Cracking statement seen as Ferrari are currently struggling worse than any time in the last 20 years…

      1. @eurobrun wouldn’t it be awesome to have 3 Ferraris out of the points at Monza?

        I’d pay to stand in the grandstands there!

    3. It has been obvious for some time what direction Bernie wants F1 to move in. Now that he has less legal distractions it seems like his focus is back on molding F1 more to his personal liking. Much of that focus appears to be rewarding the big time players at the expense of the less wealthy teams, track promoters and ultimately the fans.

      What kind of dynamic do we want in F1? More teams with more personality and diversity of styles and characters? Or, do we want F1 to be more of a large corporate conglomeration with more conformity and less diversity?

      The garagistas are long gone, but that spirit lives on in the smaller teams, Marussia for example, and it gives F1 more of an everyman appeal. Seems Bernie would have a more exclusive club mostly for those fans who already possess a Ferrari, Tag Heuer and a yacht. Too bad for everyone else. F1 with no real underdogs.

      If there are only seven teams with three cars each in 2016, what would that look like?

      Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull, Toro Rosso, McLaren, Haas and Williams? (If Williams can survive, or would it be Sauber or Force India?) Or pick one as an eighth team if that many can survive against the onslaught of the super-rich Bernie approved teams. Likely Lotus, Caterham and Marusiia would be kicked to the curb.

      Our preference may not matter much, but what kind of F1 do we want to see?

      1. My preference is to see more equitable distribution of funds to all teams. Give some substantial rewards to all teams willing to have the courage to go racing in F1 against all odds!

        1. Agree wholeheartedly with that @bullmello

        2. Exactly, if anything the big teams need even less than the smaller teams because of the huge sponsorship deals they get. Look at someone like Ferrari or Red Bull (and looking at Tag Heur, Mercedes too), sponsorship money comes with results. The way F1 works right now is that the small teams don’t get the funding, so they can’t get the results so the big sponsors don’t come which in turn means they can’t improve their car and their results. It’s such a painfully apparent catch 22 that it can’t be that Bernie can’t see it, it must be that he doesn’t want the small teams in F1. Small teams is one of the things that makes F1 great, and when there are only really two or three small teams there are no interesting battles between them, so no one is interested in them.

    4. I think they should allow teams to run 1 car. Maybe only allow teams with 2 cars to take points of the constructors championship, and drivers championship is a free for all for teams with 1 or 2 cars.

    5. Never have I seen a sport where the main ‘person in charge’ seems to not care about some teams within their group of existence, let alone seem to openly wish that the smaller teams would fail.

      1. Indeed. It’s so incredibly bizarre to see someone basically cheering for their teams to die.

    6. Bernie has confirmed the plan on Sky Sports. Basically if we lose 3 teams we will get three cars. Hopefully Marussia is safe with money in 9th place and Sauber looking to be bailed out. Plus we have Haas joining in 2016 and hopefully Forza Rossa in 2015 or 2016.

      The only team we are looking to lose (and I think we will) is Caterham.

    7. I think that Vijay is spot on. It’s a monumentally daft attitude that Bernie seems to have, where he’d rather have the poorer teams expelled from the sport than do anything to make them richer. Getting rid of Marussia and Caterham won’t provide us with a healthier grid, it’s just going to shift the financial strife onto teams like Lotus and Sauber. Somebody has to finish last. If the current pecking order carried on, what chance would teams like Lotus, Sauber or Toro Rosso have, when there are 3 Mercedes, Red Bulls, Ferraris, etc. locking out the top 10? They’d be spending an awful lot of money to be F1’s slowest team.

    8. Thank you Vijay.

    9. The other big debate is diminishing audience and attendance and if we do get 3 car teams, my level of interest will drop immensely. I don’t think I would find this season anywhere near as interesting and exciting as I do if Mercedes had 3 cars.

    10. What Mallya says highlights F1 is shifting the emphasis from a more advertising based funded model to a more TV rights based funding model, but the TV rights aren’t fairly distributed. Now adverting isn’t fair, winners get more than loosers, but it seems as though advertising was more fair than the TV rights distribution is. After all, in the pre-TV rights era there were more F1 teams than there are now, so that points to advertising being a better way to keep a team solvent than TV rights. TV rights are supposed to help support teams because advertising couldn’t fully support an F1 team, but new teams get nothing, meaning they need advertising to support them. But F1 wants to only be seen on Pay TV channels, which just discourages corporations from advertising on their cars, especially on new team cars.
      Oh well, another weekend with no F1 races on Free to Air TV.

      1. @drycrust, Bernie/cvc keep more than 1/3rd of the TV income for themselves but sponsorship goes directly to the teams/drivers without Bernie/cvc getting a cut, that is why Bernie wants TV revenue and does nothing to help teams attract sponsors.

    11. Not an F1 example, but there are some parallels…

      In the BTCC, when the Super Touring bubble burst, three car teams were used to keep up the numbers, but it really diluted my interest (much like WTCC now) and the racing was lethargic. It took a long time for the series to recover, but now its thriving with tones of teams, including several ‘small’ teams racing on a shoe string budget. Big grids, thrilling racing all through the pack, rising crowds and TV audiences.

      F1 has had a lot of great racing throughout the field this season, especially mid pack between the ‘struggling’ teams. The fact that they could indeed be struggling for their lives adds further drama. Yes, the grids aren’t as big as they have been in the past, but I feel that three car teams is a one way ticket to lifeless, processional races and fan disillusionment that will take a long time to recover from – if at all.

    12. I find it amazing that people are for the 3 car teams, do they not realise that once it happens there will be no going back. For the fure of F1 do we really only want 6 or 7 teams?. I love to watch the different batlles going on throughout the grid.
      Even if we have 3 car teams we will still ge tthe back markers teams, what then 4 car teams?. F1 is brilloiant because of the lower rank teams giving it ago. .
      Look at football in Scotland , Spain and Germany is that exciting?

    13. DTM has 8-car teams. Just an idea, Bernie.

    14. How soon before 6 teams with 4 cars?

    15. Classic Ecclestone negotiating. The smaller teams are probably pressuring him to release more money to them or they can’t survive. So he’s responding by saying good riddance.

      Ferrari are probably the only team that like the idea as without unlimited testing to throw their budget at they’ve been nowhere, so another car doing more mileage can be treated like a test case for them

    16. Greed is the reason behind this.
      Bernie can slightly increase the revenue to the remaining 8 or less teams, running 3 cars, from that which wont now go to the 3 or more lost teams. And he wont have to reduce the share going to CVC and the Bambino tax dodgers.

    17. The bottom line for this whole idea is nothing to do with anything but Bernie and cvc making even more money by not having to pay out prize money to 2/3 teams each year. The fewer teams in F1, the less money he gives away, its that simple.

      Not that the top teams have no share of blame here either, by rejecting a cost-cap and continuing a development arms-race, its driving poorer teams out too with ever higher costs.

    18. my question is: what does a healthy grid mean? the distribution of money should be fairer, but that doesnt necesarilly mean teams will be able to survive! i mean: caterham for example is struggling. why? because they put all their money in the team/car. if they got much more money, they would still pur everything in the team/car in order to be more competitive and gain more money! but then they would be once again struggling to survive! receiving more money from FOM wont mean teams will be financially healthier then they are now IMHO.

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