Jules Bianchi, Marussia, Circuit de Catalunya, 2014

Three-car teams no easy fix as grid hits alarming low

2014 F1 season

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Jules Bianchi, Marussia, Circuit de Catalunya, 2014The loss of Marussia and Caterham from the next round of the championship raises concerns about how small the F1 grid will be at the start of next season.

Like Caterham, Marussia has given notice of its intention to go into administration. F1 faces losing four cars from an already slender field.

Just 18 will be on the grid at the Circuit of the Americas this weekend. With no new teams currently due to join the sport over the winter (the deadline for applications closes on Saturday), the same is likely to be the case in Australia next year if buyers are not found for the two teams.

That would leave F1 with its smallest field at the start of a second since 1966. The fall in entries in 1966 was partly due to change in the engine regulations, increasing capacities from 1.5-litres to 3-litres, which left some teams without suitable motors.

Entry numbers were often lower in the fifties, when the world championship was in its infancy, many teams would skip the long haul to Argentina for the first race of the season to save money. Since the eighties teams have been required to participate in every round of the championship.

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If Caterham and Marussia are about to go the way of HRT, it would mean the three new teams which entered Formula One in 2010 (Caterham as Lotus and Marussia as Virgin) have all collapsed within five years. They were to be joined by another, US F1, who failed even to produce a car in time for the 2010 season.

Christian Horner, Bernie Ecclestone, Singapore, 2014Their loss will not be mourned by Bernie Ecclestone, who said of the new entrants during their first season, “they do nothing for us, they are an embarrassment,” and “we need to get rid of a few of those cripples”.

But while Ecclestone may hold them in contempt, the fact is no new team has successfully entered the sport he runs since the turn of the millennium. The last new team to have entered F1 and stayed there is BAR, which turned into Mercedes by way of Honda and Brawn. And even they took over the entry previously occupied by the deceased Tyrrell team.

During that time just five new teams have attempted to enter the sport – Toyota, Super Aguri, Lotus (now Caterham), HRT and Virgin (now Marussia) – all of which are now gone. With no new growth to replace them, grid sizes will continue to diminish.

Unless, of course, teams are allowed to field more than two cars, as has been mooted for several years. But this may be a slippery slope rather than a solution. If F1 continues to lose teams without adding new ones, it may only be a matter of time before there are calls to expand to four- or five-car teams as grid sizes dwindle further.

Allowing more entries per team may leave F1 more vulnerable when teams withdraw. If Red Bull continue to run two teams, having three cars per team would mean six drivers disappearing should Red Bull call time on their F1 activity.

Alternatively, with three-car teams Red Bull may feel Toro Rosso has become surplus to requirements. They already have three drivers signed for next season, so instead of hiring three more they could simply shut up shop at Faenza.

It also remains to be seen whether it is possible for teams to have three-car entries ready for the beginning of next season. In response to a question from F1 Fanatic last month McLaren team principal Eric Boullier indicated it would take six months to make the necessary logistical arrangements, including hiring extra staff. Six months from today the first four races of 2015 will already have been completed.

The rule book will also require extensive rewrites – starting with the most obvious one:

13.6: No more than 26 cars will be admitted to the championship, two being entered by each competitor.
FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations

Other areas of the rules will require attention. For example, teams are limited to 60 “operational staff” per race weekend – that may need to be increased for those running an extra car.

However there are already agreements in place to take care of this, as Vijay Mallya noted in Singapore: “The regulations and the agreements do provide that if the grid is less than 20 cars then participating teams will race a third car.”

The minimum number of cars Formula One Management must supply to fulfil its commercial requirements is lower. An extract from the key contracts summary published by Formula Money (PDF link) indicates “under the 100-year agreements [the terms under which the FIA granted FOM permission to run Formula One], we must attempt to procure at least 16 cars participate in the world championship provided that the FIA makes such regulatory changes as are necessary to enable this to happen.”

“That’s something everybody signed up to as well,” Mallya added. “I hope it never comes to that”. It’s looking increasingly likely that it will.

But did it have to come to this in a sport where the income some front-running teams receive just for showing up – before any prize money is awarded – is enough to keep their back-of-the-grid rivals running for more than a year?

2014 F1 season

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Image © Marussia, Red Bull/Getty

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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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  • 91 comments on “Three-car teams no easy fix as grid hits alarming low”

    1. What’s happened to the Forza Rossa team supposedly entering next season?

      1. What if Forza Rossa are intending to run a customer car, therefore we arnt hearing much until its allowed.

      2. Kolles already set the foundations for Forza Rossa by helping Caterham into administration, so they are on the right path…
        Seriously, I think he used Caterham to set up his team, he could get some assets cheaper and he probably didn’t pushed the team to spend time in the Cologne wind tunnel. Although I wouldn’t be sure if Forza Rossa could ever get to the grid, and even then I don’t think they can stay long because of him.

        1. 10 bucks that Rozza is failing the get the car finished. Usf1 the romanian version

          1. 11 bucks they don’t have a car

    2. Let’s not kid ourselves that the prize money structure is the sole cause of F1’s current woes.

      Introducing what Ron Dennis pithily described as “the most expensive engines in the history of motorsport” when the European economy was (and remains) in such a parlous state was always fraught with danger.

      And that’s not hindsight, I made this point on this site almost two years ago:-

      “We are in the midst of the biggest financial crisis in at least a generation. Most if not all F1 participants and observers agree that costs need to be significantly reduced, and here is a major technological change which will do the opposite. I understand that they were talking about a doubling of engine costs, at least, from around (I’m going from recollection here) 8 million euro to 15 million euro per year. I think they are talking about increasing the regulation freeze to 8 years or so to allow the engine manufacturers to amortize the development costs over a longer period, and therefore reduce the annual costs charged to the teams. Even so, the potential costs increases are a real concern.

      I am genuinely concerned about the risk that these new drivetrains will pose to the smaller teams. When the CEO of a team as well established as Sauber expresses concerns, you have real reasons to worry.”

      http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2012/12/05/fia-drops-plan-reduce-downforce-2014/comment-page-1/#comment-1117991

      All of the teams struggling this year (Caterham, Lotus, Marussia, Sauber and according to some rumours even Force India) have had issues paying their engine suppliers.

      The small teams shouldn’t have to subsidise the engine manufacturers’ to promote “road relevance”. If Renault, Mercedes and Ferrari want to collectively spend hundreds of millions on these engines, let them bear the costs entirely themselves. They shouldn’t foist these development costs on the smaller teams who haven’t benefited at all from the change and instead find their futures threatened by the marketing needs of a few manufacturers.

      1. It’s both @tdog. A fairer distribution of prize money would easily cover your 7 million euro estimate. As other commentors have mentioned, the premier league is a good reference point of how money could be better distributed.

        Staying with the V8s might have been even worse long term, because there would have been no chance of say Honda coming back or Audi considering a return at some point.

        Whilst I agree the engine cost is a factor, 7 million euro really isn’t a large sum of money in relation to the $6.5 billion profit CVC made in 2012 for example.

        1. @john-h

          Audi is never getting involved in F1. They have said as much over the years, and said again the other day that it was another rumor that had no validity.

        2. And another thing – F1 just does not generate enough income – their income is smaller than whole Turkey’s football league’s (I read it on BBC some time ago). How come? Because F1 is still in stone age regarding commercial structure. F1 haven’t embraced social media, race broadcasting is not free anymore – why they can’t take money from live races on YouTube and let TV broadcasts free?

          Bernie was good at commercial things, but isn’t anymore – times have changed but Bernie hasn’t.

        3. Honda is only willing to supply only one team.
          When discussing F1 we must separate the fan’s perspective from that of the competitors. Honda only increases Bernie’s return, it does nothing for the teams not getting enough money to pay for their ultra expensive engines, staff and cars.

      2. Honestly, I don’t understand the argument.considering how much is spent on aero parts, which get thrown away after only a race or two, if used at all, so why not develop clearly the most important part of the car. Formula 1 for me has always been the pinnacle of automotive engineering, and that is why the new engines have the most offshoot potential of any f1 innovation in the last 20yrs. Undoubtedly the costs of the engines should be borne by the manufacturers. When you consider indy cars (or cart series) were paying $2.5m per engine (?) just to hire it, makes $15m look like a bargain. I’d be very interested in an f1 expense exposé, like everyone I guess, but would hope it could give more ideas for which direction to go for the best savings. Clearly money allocation is the biggie. F1 made pretty damn good profit this year…

        1. why not develop clearly the most important part of the car

          But they can develop the engines.

          1. Allowing 3 or 4 untested upgrades of reducing significance over it’s lifetime is not really engine development is it?

            1. @asanator The issue at hand was whether development is allowed and as I pointed out it is.

              As to what the teams can achieve within the permitted scope of development I wouldn’t make assumptions when we haven’t seen to what extent the competitive order is altered after the manufacturers produce their new engines next year.

            2. Untested? I imagine that the rigs the manufacturers have are pretty much adequate to test an engine to all extremes, even if it is in isolation.

      3. It’s not all about cost cutting no, but also sometimes you need to invest first to save money later.

      4. @tdog I don’t think there is a ‘sole’ cause to F1’s woes. I don’t think more prize money would solve the lesser teams’ woes…it’s deeper than that. Especially since you’ve hinted at it yourself. The global economy is still hurting. So money is less available from fewer potential sponsors in this market. At some point the lesser teams had to convince F1 how and why they should be in F1 in a sustainable way. If they haven’t managed to do so after a handful of years, things likely changed from their original mission statement that got them into F1 to begin with. If F1 is guilty of anything as a contributor to the problem it is still their inability to agree to cap costs enough as perhaps promised a small number of years ago to new teams entering, and mid-field teams working to advance. I think the top teams could still really not care less because they’ve got lots of money and if they can’t spend it on testing on a track they’ll spend it wherever they can…like on their simulators for example.

        The lesser teams were always going to have to buy engines anyway, so I’m not sure the added cost of these new PUs is the main issue. Sure one can word it that they are struggling to pay their engine suppliers, but that is because they are struggling to pay everyone they owe money to, and in my experience the landlord and the utilities people get their money first…an engine supplier might have to answer to BE before being able to stop supplying PUs to a team, even because of non-payment.

        And if it is as simple as better money distribution, and that we have a disaster on our hands for the next race, then BE could cut these two teams a cheque today to get them to the US GP…yet I don’t see that that is on the table.

        As to comparisons being made to a football league by a few posters…is that really a fair comparison? Football teams do not have to field super-expensive equipment which, even after millions have been poured into to it could be relatively ineffective. Sure I agree a football team could cost millions to run and they could still be a bottom-rung team, but trade for a few good players and replace the coach and that could change in a season. F1 is way more expensive and complicated than that.

        1. I think you would find that Manchester United paying the wages of players like Wayne Rooney, robin van persie, (about £20mil per year for just those 2 players) and 20 other players, managers and coaching staff every week would rival the expenses of your average F1 team. With that said the way the money is divided up in the premier league benefits teams that get relegated for years even after their relegation. Can’t say that for any F1 team that doesn’t finish in the top 10.

      5. Indeed, I don’t see why the FIA couldn’t have mandated that engines be available for $15m or a similar price as before – as it stands now, Lotus will actually save money next year by moving to the cheaper (and faster) Mercedes! It should be that engine manufacturers can sink in R&D money if they wish (as it’s road relevant development), but not at the cost of the small teams.

    3. Keith, a small correction is needed for the graph title. We started with 22 cars this season; it’s only now we are down to 18.

      1. The graph is correct – the last bar shows the projection for 2015.

        1. Yes but the graph on top says “Number of cars at the first race of the season”

          1. No, PieLighter is right. The fact that only the even years are shown threw me off. Putting the mouse over the graph confirms that it is correct.

            1. 2015 is pure speculation. Not sure why keith is putting that on graph.

            2. It is not “pure speculation”, it’s a reasonable assumption for the reasons given in the article.

    4. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
      27th October 2014, 12:44

      The combination of 3-car teams and team orders could see a team with a small advantage over its rivals using its second and third cars as mobile chicanes, which would ruin racing. It has been tried occasionally with 2-car teams, but it would be much easier to use this tactic with the change to 3 cars. It would even be possible to run cars #2 and #3 side by side, making it almost impossible for those behind to get past. I really hope we don’t see 3-car teams in F1.

      1. FlyingLobster27
        27th October 2014, 13:32

        In the European Touring Car Championship, early 2000s, I distinctly remember Alfa Romeo hiring James Thompson for the last races of the year specifically to block/gently nudge/cannonball into Alfa’s title candidate’s rivals. The stakes being higher in F1, it’s clear that more or less openly cynical teams WILL use a third car “tactically”.
        Not to mention that running two cars side by side on long straights is made even easier thanks to DRS… “Olaways a-you must-a leave-a space”, another rule to be rewritten to adapt?

    5. Is the picture illustrating the article some kind of prophecy? I hope not!

      1. @carlos-santos
        It’s all Massa’s fault, he jinxed both Marussia and Caterham. Here’s the proof: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgJRZbhb-lE

    6. I’m sure Alonso will be hoping BIG TIME for three car teams so he can get a seat at Mercedes. That really would be a mouthwatering prospect.

      1. Which one would be nominated as the third driver and not score points for the championship?

        1. As far as I know nothing has been decided about driver’s or car’s eligibility for points. There are various solutions. Even to the point of letting all drivers score WDC points, but letting the designated “third” car not score points for the WCC.
          Another solution could be that the first two drivers and/or cars over the line would receive points.

        2. FlyingLobster27
          27th October 2014, 14:30

          If the rules say that three cars can’t score, I think we’d revert to the way the Constructors’ Championship used to work, when only the team’s best result counted, regardless of the driver. That seems the fairest to me.
          Another question is, if only the top two cars score for the WCC, and let’s imagine the plausible scenario of Mercedes getting 1-2-3s week-in week-out, how many points will the 4th-placed car score? Points for 4th, as per the finishing position, or points for 3rd, being the 3rd car scoring for the WCC?

        3. There are rules for 3 cars too, they will not force all teams to run 3 cars. FIA will decide which teams and smaller teams will be exempted . Also 3rd car will not score constructors points. But again it will be problem for smaller team. Like for example if Mercedes finish 1-2-3, even though 3rd car does not get points. One finishing 11th who otherwise should have been 10th will lose points. Let’s see 3 Ferrari, Mercedes, Mclaren make 9 places. So for others it will be tough.

    7. Bernie and CVC should be ashamed of themselves for ignoring this.

      1. I’m sure the huge stash of money they’ve sucked out of Formula 1 will help them get over the shame.

    8. RB, ferrari, merc, mclaren to run 3 cars each and all problems solved.

      1. @f1fan123 Except for the ones described in the article.

        1. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th October 2014, 19:07

          @f1fan123 Except for the ones described in the article.
          _____________________________________________

          Read the article FAIL ! MEGA LOLZ

    9. I am completely for 3-car teams. We’ve tried 2-car teams for too long now and it always ends up with endless teams leaving the sport and new ones struggling – let’s face it – in another league at the back.

      It will be exciting to see the field close up and more drivers in the championship hunt.

      1. I take the completely opposite view. I think with 3 car teams, the present day middle order will also leave. So to get 20 or more cars on the grid there will have to be four car teams. That could mean only three teams contesting the constructors championship.

        No, be careful what you wish for. Unless Bernie retires, looses his job or is made to change his rules, it will be a disaster.

        1. @w-k – I’m on the fence with this one. On one hand, it would solve an obvious problem and would allow for the potential of some amazing lineups. It would allow the best cars on the grid to occupy more spots which would allow more drivers a better seat. Instead of driving for Caterham, you would get a seat in the 3rd Williams or Force India for example…

          The problem is that with team orders in place, you could absolutely ruin races. I’d be very uneasy with team orders being legal and one company owning 6 cars on the grid. The other main worry would be that it would increase costs so you’d end up with Force India/Williams/Sauber/Lotus struggling even more to make ends meet.

          In theory, we could have some new teams entering F1. Audi were rumoured to be interested and if they do join, with Mercedes already competing, I can’t imagine BMW will be far behind. I wonder if they’d buy Sauber again!?

    10. I’m starting to get to the point where I am expecting 3-car teams next season, with Red Bull closing down Toro Rosso. Could make for some interesting line-ups though:

      Mercedes: Hamilton, Rosberg and Alonso
      Red Bull: Ricciardo, Kyvat and Verstappen
      Williams: Bottas, Massa and Nasr
      Ferrari: Vettel, Raikkonen and Hulkenberg
      McLaren: Button, Magnussen and Grosjean
      Force India: Perez, Vergne and Juncadella
      Lotus: Maldonado, Ocon and Pic
      Sauber: Gutierrez, Sirotkin and van der Garde

      1. FIA will decide which teams and smaller teams will be exempted .

      2. Sauber, FI and Lotus will not run. They have their own financial problems.

        1. I saw the below report somewhere and from the sound of that, I don’t think anybody will be exempt; but there is an onus on the larger teams to support the smaller teams with the third car…

          Backmarker teams in trouble, though, could be handed a lifeline by rival outfits due to a clause in the contracts Ecclestone has in place with all the teams.

          Those state that teams could supply a troubled rival with their third car thus keeping the numbers above the required 16 cars on the grid.

          “They would supply a third car to someone else so if, for example, Sauber disappeared, a team could do a deal with Sauber,” the F1 supremo added.

          “Ferrari could say, “we will give you a car, all that goes with it, and we want you to put this sponsor on it. You have your own sponsors but we want you to include this one as well and we want you to take this driver”.

          1. @sbewers Without knowing where it’s from it might as well be made up.

            1. @keithcollantine Sorry Keith. I saw it on Planet F1 but it seems the original quote came from an interview with the Mail on Sunday and published here.

    11. Adam Parr mentioned it some time ago… https://twitter.com/adam_s_parr/status/508624381158125568
      “This is the last year of F1 as we know it. In 2015 eight teams will contest the championship, with several teams entering three cars.”

      1. My brain just started working. I don’t think McLaren is getting rid of either team-mate. Alonso is going to be the third driver. Now all the “waiting to make an announcement” makes sense.

    12. Alex McFarlane
      27th October 2014, 13:48

      Another worrying aspect for me is the fact that Tony Fernandes and the Russian owner of Marussia, whose name I forget, are not exactly poor. Neither are Toyota, BMW, Honda or Ford.

      These individuals and companies have plenty of financial resources, but in the end have shunned running teams and/or having any involvement in F1. That can only come down to the lack of value for money in the sport, regardless of the actual cost of competing.

      There seems to be a lot of naivety on the internet that some other rich individuals or companies may enter the sport and bolster the numbers once again, but where are they going to come from? It’s ok to be blase regarding the future of Caterham and Marussia based on results, but their collapse will not be a good advertisement for Formula 1, whose relevance to the real world has always been somewhat questionable.

      If people and organisations with money have tried and failed to establish themselves in F1, without a major overhaul the future of the sport looks bleak.

      1. “These individuals and companies have plenty of financial resources, but in the end have shunned running teams and/or having any involvement in F1. That can only come down to the lack of value for money in the sport, regardless of the actual cost of competing.”

        The problem there in does not lie in F1. If you have a lot of money, buy an expensive mansion but do not do any of the maintenance or get new technology involved, that mansion is going to lose its value and will crumble. A lot of the rich investors who stroll along and buy an F1 team lack the endurance to actually make the team work.

        Heck, I’ll go as far as saying no entry since Stewart had the right idea upon entering F1. Create a partnership with an established element in F1 (Ford engines, which had powered a driver’s title as recent as 1994) and basically they kept their expectations low but worked hard.

        BAR (who, mind you, only bought the Tyrrell entry and kept nothing of note) thought they could win in 1 year and would not be around had they not been bought by Honda, Brawn and Mercedes. And even Mercedes (or rather, Daimler) might not have been around if they hadn’t won races last year, considering the number and resources of the rumors they were close to pulling the plug after 2012.

        Red Bull had the right idea as well and I have come to accept them as a valid F1 team, much more so than I ever did Honda or BMW Sauber.

        If you look at the teams that are doing well, you basically get the teams that have F1 at its core business. Scuderia Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Red Bull Racing (and by extension, Toro Rosso. Lotus has never been safe under Genii, because running an F1 team isn’t their core business. Mercedes, again, would not be looking safe if they weren’t winning, as Daimler has done little to deny claims they were grossly unhappy with the team’s 2010-2012 performances. Sauber has F1 as a core business, but have been hurting badly since taking the team back from BMW, much like you can’t expect a grocer to run a franchise of a chain store and go back to being an independent and not lose a ton of income and money.

        While Lightspeed, Manor and Campos initially seemed like logical entrants, as they had experience in running racing teams, I believe there is another problem. (Apart from them being lied to about a budget cap, the little time they had to build their cars and teams, etc.)

        Forti Corse entered F1 after building their own F3000 cars, Sauber entered after building their own Group C cars, etc. There are barely any teams who also build their cars interested in running an F1 team.

        Much like there being a problem of pay drivers, but lower categories only being able to be ran because of pay drivers, teams that don’t build their own cars are running a lot of GP3, GP2, FR3.5 and F3 operations. If I were Bernie or the FIA, I’d look for new teams in the WEC.

        Or change the rules to benefit the smaller teams more. But god forbid that’d happen!

        1. Alex McFarlane
          27th October 2014, 18:06

          Sorry if I don’t answer all of your points, lots of good ones there.

          The key thing that did come out of your reply was just how few of the teams have F1 as their core interest. If I were running the sport/show, that would set alarm bells ringing.

          I agree that a lot of teams in the last decade have gone into the sport with the wrong idea, or have not really been committed to it in the long term. Toyota and Honda probably made the biggest blunders.

          But I don’t see anything in the way the sport is run at this time, economically or politically to suggest that it can provide the kind of environment where a new team can develop it as a core interest, or take a long term view – how long has it taken Force India, in it’s various guises to achieve respectability. They’ve been around a long time, they appear to be a reasonably well run outfit, but even they are rumoured to be struggling.

          I gained a lot of respect for Marussia this year, as they seem to have the right idea, they work hard, they’re keen racers and don’t appear to spend frivolously, or have high expectations but even they are being left to fall by the wayside. I’ve often heard their top guys say they know what they can do to make their car faster but just haven’t got the resources to do it.

          Whereas other series like WEC, Moto GP, World Superbike and British Superbikes have embraced various changes and cost-cutting measures designed to encourage interest and competition, Formula 1 is an archaic exclusivity club where even the traditional posh suitors are scoffing, they’ve found better, more exciting clubs to join.

      2. Simple answer is lack of success. All want each way to top in F1. If Honda/Toyota/BMW had won 1 championship they would have not left F1.

    13. I always go through different motions when thinking about three car teams and whether or not I think they’re good or not. I’ll go through my standard thought process.
      The first thing I think about is what it would have been like this season had there been three car teams. We’d have had three Mercedes battling for the title instead of two. A good point.
      At the same time we’d have had three Mercs dominating not two, potentially locking out the podium. A bad point.
      Between these two points, in a season with dominance such as this, the drivers title would be more exciting but the constructors less so. As the constructors championship in a dominant season isn’t exciting anyway, this isn’t so much a problem at the top. It becomes more of an issue down the field at the teams behind them, getting less points. (A change in the points system would solve this potentially, with points being awarded down to 20th place).
      With three cars, intra-team rivalries would be between three drivers instead of two. A good point.
      However, there’s the potential the third car will be used as a team car to hamper other teams and reduce racing. A bad point.
      Assuming all cars are run fairly and used to actually fight, inter-team battles could become more exciting. A good point.
      However, the top three teams on the grid stand a good chance of taking the top 9 positions, leaving only one more points scoring place open, so midfield teams would struggle to survive (though a change in the points system would solve this potentially, with points being awarded down to 20th place). A bad point.
      Pit stops could become hectic with only one box for each team which could lead to things being difficult to follow but more importantly making it potentially less safe. A bad point.

      So my thoughts on a championship that doesn’t feature a dominance of one team?

      A battle for the championship (assuming three teams as in 2010), would potentially be between nine drivers instead of six. If only two teams it’d be six instead of four etc. A good point.
      The constructors battle would also be quite interesting with an extra car per team fighting it out. A good point.
      Once again, midfield teams would be out of luck for the most part. (though a change in the points system would solve this potentially, with points being awarded down to 20th place). A bad point.

      All of these are purely on track points. For the most part, there are things that I both like and dislike about it, but with about a 60% for and 40% against it.

      However, a lot of this relies on an ideal world, which there’s no guarantee of, and also for me as well there needs to be a change in the points system. I think there should be anyway even with the standard two teams we have now but that’s for another day.

      As stated though, everything relies on an ideal world, where teams wouldn’t use the third car to hamper other teams, and more importantly on a financial situation being much fairer (i.e prize funding being fairly spread to allow midfield and back teams being able to also run three cars).
      Midfield teams would struggle financially to run a third car, which means they might not be able to properly develop a car making them less competitive. A bad point.
      There is then the situation where the third car would be used to employ another pay driver. Assuming we have only 8 teams when this happens, there could potentially be more pay drivers in the sport. A bad point.

      Overall, in a dominant season, three car teams would be mostly bad. In a competitive season, for me, the top end is better, but the bottom end is worse. Even in a dominant season like this one, what would Bahrain have been like with three cars battling instead of two and things like that. I don’t know. Like I said, I always go round in circles and removing the money from the situation, part of me think yes, a slightly large part of me that the part that says no. Realistically though, with the money situation… Midfield teams already on the brink would potentially fold. Granted if there are less teams realistically every team gets a bigger share of the prize money, but all in all the grid wouldn’t be as healthy. Intra-team battles are fun, but for me, I’d much rather watch two different drivers battling from two different teams than watch two team mates fight. Team mates fighting can be good as Bahrain showed, but if that had been a Merc vs Ferrari with Hamilton vs Alonso, that would he been better 100%.

      So overall, no, I would not like to see three car teams, but I can see a few points as to why it could be good and why it wouldn’t be good.

      Obviously what we need is a fairer prize money system to stop this from ever needing to be discussed in the first place.

      Sorry for the rambling on. It may seem nonsensical at times but it is a tricky situation.

      1. If 3rd car is really enforced then it must not be made non-WCC – as in that case it would definetly be used as tactical weapon to block competition. On the other side – it is not possible that all teams we still have can run the third car.

        On the points system – logically it would be to extend 1/3 – first 15 places not 20.

        1. A tactical weapon to block competition is not a negative thing. That means wheel to wheel racing. As a fan, there would be way more interesting fights happening throughout the grid. By excluding the third place car from the constructors points, but NOT the drivers championship points, then the point issue is sorted. The driver will want to finish as high as possible so wont want to be used as a tactical weapon. Also, since only the top two finishers from each team count towards constructors, it would be less of an issue if a driver took out a team-mate, thus battles will be more fierce.

          I sincerely hope 3 person teams happen.

    14. This is very worrying for f1 but frankly an inevitable consequence of how the sport is run. A certain Mr Branson left the sport and a chap who also owns an airline has now gone. I can only assume they both know what they are doing and their eventual conclusion was that f1 did not offer a sensible playing field. The sport is controlled by the powerful few who will do anything to avoid competition from the most capable entrepreneurs. 3 car teams could very interesting for a season or 2 but not long term. What next, 4 car teams when the team at the back start failing? While budget caps are almost impossible to police, the sport must strive for a situation where ‘the rules are the rules’. F1 constantly ignores the rules that are allegedly in place thus making a mockery of itself. Peal away the layers of politics and it is this basic sporting principle that is lacking in f1. No matter what rules are in place they will never be upheld to benefit a small team! I think a well constructed and controlled franchise model is probably required but such a structure would be very hard to implement with all the powerful corporate organisations involved. Bernie’s entrepreneurial management approach is probably not right for f1 anymore, it needs more structure to encourage new teams to buy into the model.

      1. At the moment participating in F1 is like playing the Casino. There is no way you can win financially in the long run. It’s rigged in favor of the house (Bernie). Which is probably what Branson found out.

        I do think that there will be a backlash for Bernie though. 2 teams are in administration. No new teams are coming in next year. Lotus, Force India and Sauber are all in financial dire situations. McLaren can’t get a sponsor. Williams are running deficits. The only teams that can make it work atm are teams that are subsidized by mega corporations. All the while Bernie is pulling out billions from the operation. It’s not a sustainable model. At the same time the fans are vocally unhappy with boring new tracks, historic GPs being shunned, fuel saving, F1’s embarrassing associations with dictators etc.

        F1 appears to be in a downward spiral. And Bernie all but seems to have lost control of the situation. It’s only a matter of time before he’ll be forced out from the inside imo. Of course it will be announced like he is retiring or something. But regardless I think F1 will be without Bernie in a not so distant future.

    15. I’ve read the Sporting and most of the Technical Regulations the FIA has available on their website and the rules would need more than a minor rewrite to allow a third car in any way shape or form.
      One rule that already has an exception is 13.3, stating no engine manufacturer can supply more than 3 teams of 2 cars, but Mercedes and Renault already supply 4 teams each.
      Also, 6.3 says constructors/teams must design and build parts listed in Appendix 6 all on their own — if this rule didn’t exist, wouldn’t Torro Rosso and Red Bull share a lot more parts?

    16. If three car teams did happen, I’d quite like to see the third car only being allowed for rookie drivers with no experience in f1 and having a rookie championship separate from the main drivers and constructors. Perhaps run the car with apprentice / junior team members or percentage thereof and creating a brilliant test bed for engineering and driving talent. Having a rookie driver and wcc championship with its own points would spice up the show and give talent a chance to shine. Lots of positives, however you may end up with a glut of talent itching for a senior drive come the end of the season. Yes it might cost the teams more money, but how about capping the car and junior driver to a budget as a test for senior team budget caps in future. That’s what I’d like to see.

      1. If three car teams did happen, I’d quite like to see the third car only being allowed for rookie drivers with no experience in f1 and having a rookie championship separate from the main drivers and constructors.

        I have to say I think that’s an awful idea. One of the few upsides to having three teams would be potentially having more cars that could compete for victory, but you want to arbitrarily wall those new cars off from the rest of the championship? So instead of having 27 cars (Nine teams of three) competing for the championship we’d have just 18. For what purpose?

        I’m afraid this would make a poor solution even worse.

        But it’s an idea which would needlessly over-complicate things for no real gain, so it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if the FIA rubber-stamped something like this.

        1. Ant Wilson and @keithcollantine
          “If three car teams did happen, I’d quite like to see the third car only being allowed for rookie drivers with no experience in f1 and having a rookie championship separate from the main drivers and constructors.”
          Yeah I agree it’s a bad idea, especially in cases like 2007 HAM almost won the championship as a rookie, and if there were a rookie championship, of course he would have won it, but what if he scored one more point and won the real WDC as a rookie, that would be a mess.

          1. Maybe adjust the plan slightly by having the teams required to run a rookie in the 3rd car, with a rookie championship that runs alongside the WDC but let their points count in the WDC & WCC too so if we get another Hamilton situation the guy is still fighting for the full championship, but in years when the rookies aren’t involved in the WDC fight they’re at least fighting for something amongst themselves.

            Admittedly I’m no fan of the 3 car teams idea but if it does come about I doubt we’d get many teams hiring 3 top drivers and letting them fight on an equal basis, it’s rare enough for them to get 2 top drivers together so rather than having a lead driver and 2 support drivers as team mates why not try getting some more rookies into F1 ?

            Or maybe we could copy Indycar where teams enter multiple cars on an individual basis so instead of having teams of drivers you get them all racing for themselves with their own sponsors and liveries but also earn points for the manufacturer. May end up being very expensive though and would bring pit/engineer etc sharing problems.

    17. I think we should ask how these teams are run from business point of view before bashing Bernie… how much do the investors take of the profits?

      I would like to ask what is the problem with prize money? All teams received 34mil just for participating and other payments depend on where you finish in the championship, isn’t that pretty fair? Ferrari brings value to the sport just with its name, history etc, maybe they deserve some more money?

      When companies get serious in F1 and invest to boosts their car sales, drinks, they usually succeed, and get their investment back in car sales or building their brand.

    18. The teams at the back need a disaster for the top teams at the front to stand a chance of any points……so why not change the points scoring to say down to 16th place……it gives them something to go for ……

      1. @jop452 That’s not relevant to the problem here: a team which finishes tenth in the championship with no points earns as much money as a team which finishes tenth in the championship with 50 points.

        1. Keith I appreciate that point (and thanks for the reply)…..was just thinking that more available points, could possibly create more interest at the other end of the grid, with say 3 or even 4 teams fighting over the minor placings, with a better chance of scoring than now….and there has to be something also to encorouge teams to come along and join F1…..

          1. @jop452 I don’t understand why you start with the assumption that those outside the top ten aren’t fighting for their positions, when they are. Take Kobayashi and Bianchi in China this year as an example.

            Why would a team choose to enter F1 merely to score points when those points aren’t translated into the kind of income that will be sufficient to sustain their efforts, much less grow and develop them?

            1. I take the example of Kobayashi and Bianchi….and know all teams are battling all the way down the grid, and find it intriguing to watch myself, but how do you explain to an average TV viewer for example why Sauber finish in front of Caterham at the end of the year, yet they both have no points, which is no indication of the money and effort they have both put in…with more points available, at least they would have something to show, even if the outcome was the same!!

              ps with 18 cars probably for the next 2 races…I am expecting Sauber to break their duck

    19. I would like to see BMW back

      1. So they can quit after one tough year like they did in 2009?

      2. With Mercedes advertising themselves as “Formula 1 world champions” BMW might find their “ultimate drivers car” halo slipping and have to re-think F1 involvement. Mercedes have done a brilliant job of spiceing up their image from stodgy to sporty and BMW and Audi will find it harder to attract young, enthusiastic male drivers to their showrooms because of it.

    20. Harvey Dent: You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

    21. Well if it is inevitable to have extra cars then i suppose a good solution is what MotoGP does where there are 2 bikes for big teams and then satellite teams that have sasi and engine from the big teams BUT 1-2 stages behind. We this way its almost certain that big teams will stay as they are and small teams will have their own fight between them. As for driver and team points MotoGP again can lead the way where the 15 1st drivers and cars gets points.

      Offcourse the SuperExtraBonanzaDoublePointAbuDhabi race must be with normal point again.

    22. is it confirmed marussia are going to miss Brazil???

      1. I think not, but it’s highly unlikely things will improve so quickly. @sato113

        1. @enigma reports say caterham AND marussia missing brazil. i would post a link but the mods here are trigger happy with deleting posts with links…

        2. I think I read somewhere the other day that if they don’t get their stuff on the shipment to COTA they won’t be going to Interlagos either as they send the equipment from one circuit directly to the next.

    23. Liam Radford (@)
      27th October 2014, 20:47

      I say to hell with it; if there are only going to be 18 cars they may as well experiment.

    24. They should mix with Indycar and get a full field

    25. The fact both Marussia and Caterham have went into administration just days apart seems surprising to me – more than coincidence?

    26. Possible options for Bernie
      1. GP2 cars fill the back of the grid, there is precedence for this.
      2. FOM buy cars from teams that fail and auction the drive on a race by race basis.
      3. Bernie buys a team to show the others how cheaply a team can be run, coincidently backmarker teams get an increased share of revenue.

      1. 1. WHAT??? since when have gp2 cars joined an f1 grid? @hohum

        1. Since before GP2 when they were called F2, OK so it was 60 + years ago but Bernie remembers it well.

    27. I would glad to small teams.

      1. that make senses…

    28. https://infogr.am/team-f1-2014-budget-and-employees that’s something… how can it be that the four top teams spends more than the other combined? maybe because they get more sponsorship, but how about McLaren and their sponsor-free livery for this year? how much money do they get from TV and how much gets caterham or marussia? we should take a look at some other sports for a more even distribution and healthier sport!

      1. Yep @matiascasali, even McLaren were going to fall behind without Honda.

        The trouble is the funding for some teams is not sponsorship. Mateschitz has billions to spend on his hobby, Ferrari have their 2.5% plus tobacco, and Mercedes make several billion euros in profits every year. On top of that they get the lion’s share of the FOM payout.

        The result is that sponsorship of an F1 team doesn’t pay – the value of the advertising is less than what small teams have to charge to stay afloat in that sea of big money.

        Nobody can survive on sponsorship any more, so only a certain kind of owner can play. And it’s not a garagiste kind of owner like Sauber, Frank, Chapman or Tyrrell.

    29. Mr Ecclestone has proven himself very capable at handling situations like the one F1 currently faces, which are potentially damaging to his personal power, wealth and the ongoing survival of the sport which makes him money. For all the talk about the grid shrinking, small teams being unfairly treated, the FIA getting the lease back, or F1’s failure to embrace social media undermining faith in the mighty leader, I am sure Mr E has already planned for this contingency and will, once again, emerge on top. He isn’t outdated, and he understands how this business works very well, and he’s uber-rich. He knows how to use his power and influence. He won’t leave until he wants to, for all the fact that many would like him to or fans opine on the matter. .

      As far as the back marker teams are concerned, it appears the plight of Caterham and Marussia is to the liking of those that matter (meaning Ecclestone) and so no one should be surprised. In fact, those who have followed F1 for any length of time are not surprised at all.

    30. It’s like a song….it’s sad but true!!!

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