Start, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014

Drivers see more opportunities with three-car teams

2014 United states Grand Prix

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Start, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014Formula One drivers see few downsides from a potential switch to three-car teams if it is needed.

There are only 18 cars participating in this weekend’s race due to Marussia and Caterham’s financial problems. If the grid gets any smaller teams could be required to enter three cars.

Romain Grosjean said that could present opportunities to drivers in less competitive cars. “A third car would certainly help some of us have a good reputation,” he said.

“If you’re in a good team and you are fighting with the same cars, what we call the superstars, than it gives you an opportunity to show how strong you are and to get then called one of those superstars.”

Daniel Ricciardo said he would have no objections to sharing his team with more drivers. “From our position it’s something, if we’re request to have a third car, I think we’ll definitely look into it and try to make it happen,” he said.

“From my side having another team mate, I wouldn’t see any negatives. I remember 2008 I think I had six team mates at one point, with Formula Renault, so it was like being in a school class room. I wouldn’t see any downside from a driver’s point of view.”

However Lewis Hamilton said it would be important “to make sure the efforts aren’t diluted” if Mercedes expanded to run a third car, and suggested the extra space should be given to a less experienced driver.

“If it’s a position perhaps for a younger driver it could be quite good,” he said. “Especially bringing them on, giving them the best experience, especially putting them alongside top drivers who have the experience, perhaps, it will come along a lot more than they ever have in the past.”

“When I think about the two teams that have dropped out my biggest concern really is for all the employees in those teams that have to provide for their familiar who don’t have, perhaps, a job now,” he added. “But if we do do this, perhaps they still have space in other teams.”

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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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30 comments on “Drivers see more opportunities with three-car teams”

  1. the day a team scores the whole podium to themselves, all but 3 drivers will complain.

    1. @fer-no65 Then they should surely be told that such an occurrence isn’t a new thing. In fact, it happened in the very first race of the FIA Formula One World Championship. Alfa Romeo entered four cars into the British Grand Prix of 1950, and after qualifying in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, they finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd with only Fangio retiring due to an oil leak.

      No doubt they’d whine about it anyway though!


      1. @mathers we also had customer cars back in the day, and anyone with money could enter a GP.

        What happened in the 50’s, or even in the 80’s, have little relevance in today’s F1.

        1. “anyone with money to buy a car”

        2. Anyone with money could enter a GP nowadays too.

        3. Do you really think anyone with money cannot enter F1 now? Marussia and Caterham are up for sale already, with Sauber also not in a good shape. If you’ve got enough money you can have upto 6 cars on the grid!

  2. Personally, I think three car teams aren’t an issue, in fact I’d like to see drivers getting ‘promotions’ to third cars of the bigger teams. Of course though, I think the reason these talks have come about is a real issue. We shouldn’t get to this point, surely. I’d like to see the sport opened up a bit. Why not allow teams to enter three cars to a weekend, or the two they currently run, or even one if they wish? There would of course be problems with points / team orders, but I’d love the idea of the minnows spending money on running one car and maybe getting success rather than having to prepare two cars and struggling to survive.

  3. I don’t like the three car per team concept at all. But this is how I interpret those statements from Lewis. “I do not want an experience driver (like Alonso or Vettel) who could challenge me and give me a hard time in the third car if it had to happen.”

    1. There wouldn’t be anyway- I don’t see any team hiring 3 of the very best drivers, not only because it would be very difficult to secure them.

      1. Ferrari currently have 3 of the best drivers on contract. And if ALO had his way, Merc would. And I’m certain ALO and RAI, at the very least, would have jumped to RBR over the past four years if spare cars were available.

    2. Given the internecine war in the Mercedes garage this season, with Lewis and Nico, he’s only being honest about the challenges of having THREE TIMES as much friction: Lewis-Nico, Lewis-New Driver X, Nico-New Driver X.

      In any case, it doesn’t really matter what they think. If the formula changes to 3-car teams, they’ll all do what the teams paying them millions of Euros each year ask of them.

    3. @SeaHorse I think most of us would agree that Lewis is one of the least concerned about being paired up with other experienced drivers. Seems to me he’s simply referring to the opportunity he was given at McLaren in 2007 and that it would be nice for other rookies to be given that same competitive chance from the get-go.

      Let’s face it, Alonso more than most would be far less comfortable having Vettel or Hamilton for a team mate, historically being known for whinging about not having preferential treatment over his teammates.

  4. I thought the deal with the 3-car teams was that Mercedes, say, had to give another car to Sauber?

    1. @sharoncom
      That’s just something Bernie suggested I think

      1. I’ve heard that there is something in the regs wherein if the field shrinks too small then teams can be asked to “lend” a car to another team to run but with a lot of their own sponsors etc still on it. And there’s a pecking order for who gets asked first. But there’s 60 days notice I think which means it won’t be this season. Or something like that. This is all written down somewhere, I’m sure. lol

  5. If we have third car teams I wouldn’t like it, but it would have to be like this. The third car is not eligible for the world drivers championship or the constructors. I know this sounds like the near opposite to other plans, but I want it to fill the gap back markers have left, an opportunity for new talent. Instead of Bianchi driving around in a car all by himself in a pointless championship, he’d be in a Ferrari racing with Kimi and Fernando in a pointless championship. To insure teams don’t abuse their third car to hamper competitors, constructors points are awarded to the winner of the support championship. All third cars results are put in their own championship, with race results only taking into account Third cars. The winning driver gets 25 points for his team. Support championship cars run slightly modified liveries and have their own podium.

  6. You do realise that 3rd cars are not eligible to score points and that 3rd cars, if required, are allocated on a random basis. Why would any serious driver want to drive a 3rd car?

    1. If you read my theory, drivers that would be Third car drivers are young ones the team would like to have a driver (Nasr for Williams) or a safe pair of hands that has no other option (Vergne for Toro Rosso).

  7. Correction. Only drivers in front running teams see the opportunities with three-car teams. Teams with smaller budgets will see this as a massive headache.

    1. @royal-spark That’s not a correction – you’re confusing “drivers” with “every driver”.

  8. What a stupid solution for a financial crisis… big teams will spend more money and small teams will disappear in 2/3 years. The series will have 6 teams with the 6th on the brink to fail, then what? 4 cars teams?

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      30th October 2014, 20:33

      @jcost, spot on.
      3rd cars do no resolve anything that is inherently wrong with the financial set-up of F1. And therefore we will continue along these lines (4th car, 5th car, etc) until only one team is left.

  9. “multi 1-2-3 seb, multi 1-2-3”

  10. To me the biggest problem with 3 car teams is that it will make it even harder to get new teams into F1. On the other hand I think itwoulds great for the driver market if we had, say, 6 teams with 3 cars instead of 9 teams of 2 cars. At least those last 2 teams are not total terrible career suicides like marussia or caterham. But at the same time the amount of driver positions does not increase and with more drivers each team is probably more inclined to run one pay driver. Someone like williams, lotus or mclaren would definitely do it.

    A team like ferrari would probably run 3 star drivers. Merc too and so rbr. But what about red bull. If rbr main team has 3 seats then what is the purpose of toro rosso and its 3 seats? Wouldn’t it be cheaper for them to buy a seat from force india, lotus or sauber for the upcoming rookies than to have another 3 car team?

    3 car teams is a dangerous proposition. But from driver perspective it would be great if no one had to drive a caterham or marussia. Without those teams the drivers can show better what they can do and some of the rookies that are not backed by big companies or sporting programmes by rbr/ferrari/etc could still get a competitive ride and not be forced into the career suicide teams.But it is very iffy. We could end up from having two career suicide teams to surge of pay drivers into F1.

    1. “3 car teams is a dangerous proposition. But from driver perspective it would be great if no one had to drive a caterham or marussia”

      Alonso had to drive a Minardi once. Webber had to drive a Minardi once. Ricciardo had to drive an HRT once. And so on.

      If things are working properly then the teams at the back are staging grounds, base camps on the way to the Everest of a championship-winning drive, for those who can demonstrate that they have the talent.

  11. Bernie likes 3 cars, so would it not be a career limiting move if a driver publically stood against it? Just sayin, the drivers have only mentioned positives, perhaps they don’t wan to fall afoul of the head huncho….

  12. Red Bull paying for 6 cars ?

  13. Why do people seem to think that teams would put top drivers in a 3rd car rather than more pay drivers?

    After all running a 3rd car will cost teams more, They would have to bring more personnel to every race to run it & there’s more costs for engine’s, gearboxes, tyres & other components.

    Mid-field teams especially will be just as likely to put a pay driver in a 3rd car as they would one of the 2 cars they already run.

    And also if you say the 3rd car can’t score points, Why would a top driver want to race for nothing to begin with?

    3 car teams are not the solution, They fix nothing & in my view do far more harm than good.

  14. Different point of view/question.
    If the three top teams to supply cars were to pay 1/3 each of what it would cost to keep Marussia afloat, would it not be substantially less that the cost (extra car, extra crew, etc.) of running a third car?

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