Start, Circuit of the Americas, 2019

How many teams should Formula 1 have?

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As RaceFans revealed earlier this week, rumours surfaced at Silverstone that a new Formula 1 team could enter the sport in 2021.

With a major overhaul of the rules coming soon including the introduction of a budget cap to bring down the cost of competing, now could be the time for new entries to make their move. But does F1 already have enough teams – or even too many?

‘F1 needs more teams’

Adding more cars is, on the face of it, a simple way to increase the action in Formula 1. More cars means more of the world’s drivers get to compete, potentially opening the sport up to new markets.

It also means a greater potential for action on the track. There would be more cars fighting for position and passing.

The only practical way to increase the number of cars is to increase the number of teams. The alternative – a move to three-car teams – would be un-affordable for some competitors. It would also create the possibility of one team sweeping the top three podium positions which, as years of dominant Mercedes one-twos has shown, would surely be unpopular.

‘F1 doesn’t need more teams’

Formula 1 needs quality, not quantity, when it comes to the number of teams in the sport. The current prize money structure makes it hard enough for the current midfielders to compete; spreading the money further to include an 11th, 12th or further teams would only make life more difficult.

The most recent addition to the grid, Haas, is the exception to the rule when it comes to the standard of new teams F1 has attracted in recent seasons. Most new entries, including all of those which arrived in 2010, have not remained in the sport.

Only last year one team had to be rescued from administration. F1 needs to look after the teams it has first before thinking of adding more.

I say

There was a clear hypocrisy to the ‘quality over quantity’ mantra espoused by Bernie Ecclestone when, while F1 was under his watch, car numbers plunged from a peak entry of 39 cars three decades ago to barely more than half that today. The same principle clearly never applied to F1’s ever-growing calendar.

Why the double-standard? Simple: Because adding more races meant more income; adding more teams meant more ‘mouths to feed’.

More races and more cars effectively means more F1, so I’m in favour of both. But in both cases a balance needs to be struck. Add too many races and viewers will grow bored; add too many cars and the entry will outgrow the tracks. However we’re clearly a long way off the latter scenario, even at Monaco, which has previously accommodated up to 26 cars.

As one of F1’s aims for 2021 is to force the top teams to cut their spending, that is inevitably going to mean a reduction in their staffing numbers. If those talented engineers and team members can find their way into new teams, and by doing so bring greater breadth and diversity to the F1 grid, that is clearly a win-win situation.

You say

Does F1 need more or fewer teams than its current 10? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

How many teams should Formula 1 have?

  • 8 or fewer (1%)
  • 9 (0%)
  • 10 (6%)
  • 11 (4%)
  • 12 or more (85%)
  • No opinion (3%)

Total Voters: 312

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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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  • 71 comments on “How many teams should Formula 1 have?”

    1. I think the more teams the better and 30 cars would be achievable at all the tracks but I see it as an important not essential thing.

      We don’t see a lot of cars for most the race anyway so while more cars will be statistically better we can have just as much entertainment from the current levels if the racing is good.

      1. @glynh 30 cars has always been the number I’d go to as a maximum, and I agree it’s not essential. 24 competitive cars would be good.

        That said it’s quality over quantity, currently there is neither. I’d rather watch 4 or 6 cars compete for a win with a competitive midfield of 12 cars, than the same team coming 1-2 every race, the next team coming 3-4, and so on 13 more times. And it was not interesting seeing Caterham, Manor, and HRT coming last every race for five years. There’s no point in having more teams if it’s like that.

        But it would be great if there were a competitive grid of, say, 26 cars. If they can get the financial problems sorted out then who knows…

      2. Yes. Six cars up front and 24 out back. I’d like to see 10 competitive teams.

      3. Not sure you could get 30 cars at Monaco but certainly most other tracks.

        1. foggy, Monaco, I believe, has never permitted more than 26 cars to race at that circuit.

          I do wonder, though, how many of those who call for more teams now supported the efforts of Caterham, HRT and Marussia when they were around in the past, and how many of those calling for more teams simply poured scorn on the efforts of those teams when they entered.

          Equally, whilst there are some who refer back to the 1990s, I wonder how many of those posters actually remember what some of those teams were like? Some were more professional, but quite a few were pretty badly underfunded and undermanned glorified Formula 3000 teams, and often not even the best Formula 3000 teams either – I wonder whether some have forgotten quite how dreadful some of those teams were, and quite how dangerous some of their cars were when the budgets started getting tight and they started cutting corners or bodging bits together.

        2. As above. We need 30+ cars, but race grid can be limited per track. Some tracks can have 30 cars allowed, some would have only 22-24 allowed, like Monaco.

    2. Whatever will be, will be, like the song. No teams, something wrong. Simple

    3. 12 or more. I started watching F1 in the late 90’s and while I was supporting Häkkinen and Räikkönen I also supported Minardi and Arrows at the same time and felt they definitely brought some extra excitement to F1. F1 was better when it had sympathetic minnows in the mix. It felt great when they were able to score lucky 6th and score a point.

      Sharing the money further for more teams won’t be an issue once money is being shared fairly between the teams. There’s enough of it to feed more teams.

      1. I was supporting Häkkinen and Räikkönen I also supported Minardi and Arrows at the same time and felt they definitely brought some extra excitement to F1.

        I can relate to that. Was supporting Kimi and Fisichella.

      2. You missed the time then) In late 80’s-early 90’s when I started watching it, not everyone was able to pass qualification.

    4. I would love to see a field of 30 cars all capable of competing for points, but I think that unlikely in the current economic climate – no matter the rule changes.

      I voted for 12 plus, as I would love to see it – but first we need a truly competitive environment for the existing 10.

    5. At least 16 teams. Bring back the early drama of pre-qualifying!

      Ok, maybe that’s too much to wish for. I’d be happy if we ever get a full grid of 26 cars again, and I’d be happy if they lowered entry criteria for teams significantly, for less professionalism and more adventure.

      1. I like the idea that qualifying goes back to not just what grid position you get. But I guess with the economic requirements of modern racing, teams won’t want to spend a fortune and not race.

    6. I went for “no opinion”.

      To me, there’s no magic number. To paraphrase, I’d like to see more of Haas, and less of HRT. Teams that come in should be competitive in some manner, and not just languishing at the rear.

      At the same time, I don’t want any favours for a new team (e.g. an entry ramp). If you want to play with the big boys, play by the rules.

      I would therefore prefer seeing new teams in F1 having worked their way up the ranks in feeder series and junior formulae, and not just the vanity project of someone seduced by the allure of F1.

      1. Too much Haasle for me.

        F1 needs just one team. And we all know which team that is. Two cars fighting for the lead all race. Would give the FOM broadcast directors a 50/50 chance of catching the on track action. Possibly.

    7. At least 11 teams, maximum 12.

    8. I’d say 12. Four engine manufacturers should be able to provide three teams each. Ferrari and Mercedes supplied to four teams in the past (V6 era), and Renault managed three. So three each seems ‘ideal’.

    9. Staffan Hansson
      21st July 2019, 12:58

      30 cars and change the blueflag rule so that a driver dont need to give space untill at least 50% of the field has passed him. More fair if safety cars comes out and will bring the field and racing together.

      1. Ah yes, good idea. Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull C-teams with the soul purpose to block the competition.

      2. I am strongly in favour of removing the blue flag rule and increasing the cars on track to at least 26. @montalvo has an interesting point; but, if you’re not good enough to pass, then you’re not good enough. Defensive skills should be rewarded as much as attacking skills.

        1. @shimks This is not about being good enough to pass. This is about teams buying an extra team solely for the purpose of blocking their opponents. Right now they are allowed to defend Verstappen style, meaning that a lot of crashes will occur. Top cars eliminated and less actual racing.

          1. @f1osaurus, it is also worth noting that the idea of a blue flag to signal that a driver should yield position dates back to the pre-WW2 Grand Prix championship – there are examples from the late 1930s of drivers being shown a blue flag as an instruction for them to let the lead driver through, and that is known to have carried forwards into at least the 1950s.

            It seems odd that blue flags were evidently good enough for somebody like Fangio to receive them, but it is apparently now wrong for drivers to receive them now.

            1. @anon I don’t mind blue flags for lapped cars, but I don’t think they should be shown to anyone fighting the leader to stay on the lead lap. They’re not a lap down until they’re a lap down. They have something to fight for (potential race-saving safety car), and I prefer to see the leader fight their way through traffic—in line with how blue flags are done in many series around the world.

            2. @markzastrow, the thing is, we saw how angrily people complained about the Ocon-Verstappen collision just for the case of Ocon unlapping himself relative to Verstappen, with bitter recriminations and conspiracy theories flying around. If we had a similar case of a backmarker colliding with a leading car, or perhaps even taking the leader out of a race, I could see that causing an even bigger storm.

    10. If the team count does go up massively, I hope F1 adds points upto 15th place driver along with top independent manufacturer being rewarded(which might be RBR in most cases). Also MotoGP style qualifying format would be exciting than current one.

    11. Adam (@rocketpanda)
      21st July 2019, 13:15

      More than what we have ideally but if they’re not competitive then what’s the point?

      If we got two or three new teams that were capable of fighting at the front and mixed up the whole grid that’d be great – but that would require them actually making the overall field competitive so…

      Short answer yes, long answer probably not until F1’s other problems are corrected.

    12. Like mentioned above, there’s no point of adding teams just for the sake of more cars. If Williams weren’t here this season there would have been absolutely no effect on our race ratings and entertainment.

      If all of the teams provide something (ie all of the current teams bar Williams) I would definitely like to see 12. I think more than 12 would be too much to follow during a race.

      1. To simplify as long as all 12 teams make the 107 rule I’m happy.

        On a side note I wish it would be shrunk to 105%

      2. I disagree, F1 would be poorer for not having Williams on the grid. They turn up at each race and show everyone how to change wheels. Maybe this year’s car isn’t optimal, but they’ll bounce back.

    13. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
      21st July 2019, 14:08

      12 or 13 would be ideal. Keeps more seats open, whilst keeping the grid small enough to make it manageble.

    14. Last team should be within 2-2.5 sec from first. We don’t have that now and you want to add more? I don’t want to see half the field lapped 3 times.

    15. Neil (@neilosjames)
      21st July 2019, 14:59

      I’d like exactly 12. The grid would look ‘full’, there’d be no major practical issues with garage space at any of the circuits (as long as everyone was OK squeezing up in Monaco), and I believe that 12 teams could be supported by the sport’s revenues without spreading the pot too thinly.

      Fewer than 12… just doesn’t seem like enough, and there are too few opportunities. More than 12, and the money has to be stretched too far and it’d probably look crowded.

    16. 26+ teams, like the ol’ days!

      1. I mean 13+ teams (26 cars)… I’m getting old

    17. 12 or more. More teams means more seats for drivers. Some deserving drivers are sitting on the sidelines in the prime of their careers because there simply aren’t enough seats.

    18. Anyone should be able to attend a meeting if they have a car that passes scrutineering, a driver with the relevant license, and they have paid the entry fee. If they can then qualify, they get to race. This business of closed meetings and only 10 teams is absurd. It was engineered this way simply to line certain pockets, not to improve the racing.

      Clearly, right now the cost of going racing makes this impossible, but with a claiming rule like they have in MotoGP – set at, say, $50 million – there would be no point in spending more than that sum developing a car. Other entrants could then come forward.

    19. I went for 11 teams but I think 11/12 is probably the right number.

      I don’t think we will get a clear picture on this until post the 2021 rule changes. I don’t see the point of adding extra teams if they end up bring just another back marker struggling to survive with the medium/large teams.

      If it becomes clear that the rule changes have made a significant improvement to the overall competitiveness of the field then F1 could then encourage 1 or 2 more teams to enter.

    20. 12 teams with points scored for the top 12 positions – the $ must be spread in a manner to help boost the bottom teams like USA lottery for the bottom teams getting top picks from the draft.

      Maybe the bottom teams get 3 extra days of track time to test and they can sell this time if they want.

    21. When there was a significantly larger number of teams competing, If my recollection is correct, not all were two car teams and they didn’t necessarily show up at every event. The current commercial agreements and regulations require that they do both. This makes it a BIG financial commitment for anyone contemplating a new team, two cars and attend every event … or face con$equence$.
      I like the idea of more teams and this would solve another pending problem, redundancies.
      IF, and that is a BIG IF, the budget cap is implemented and it actually works, then the current top teams are going to have to shed personnel. Any new teams to the grid will benefit from this as will those folks that would otherwise be looking for alternative employment.
      Engine, sorry, “Power Unit” supply is a separate problem and one that could result in a limitation of the number of teams. A budget cap is likely going to include the cost of power units. At some point the manufacturers of these expensive little gems are going to balk at the cost of subsidizing more teams. Especially those at the back of the grid.
      More teams, not a problem, it’s an opportunity. Bring em on.

      1. @rekibsen, Excellent points.

    22. I voted for 10, which, of course, is the number of teams on the grid at present as I don’t see a definite need for more just for the sake of adding. I’d be open to a higher number of teams only if those additional entrants would be able to compete with the rest of the field, which wasn’t the case from 2010 to 2012. We don’t need more teams with a similar pace to the current-Williams car on the track. BTW, any particular reason for the choice of top-image/article thumbnail-image, which is from the inaugural COTA race.

    23. I would like to see a full 12 team 24 car grid. I assume they would not allow more than 24 cars on race day. More teams after that competing to make the grid would spice up the show on Saturday.

      I don’t mind more than 12 teams (and would like to see it) as long as only the top 12 share the revenue. That would suck for the team 13 on down, but it should maintain the quality on the grid.

      It should be noted that even with a more restrictive budget cap in future years that not all of the teams will still be competing for a title. The cream still rises to the top.

      1. I don’t mind more than 12 teams (and would like to see it) as long as only the top 12 share the revenue. That would suck for the team 13 on down, but it should maintain the quality on the grid.

        Forcing the worst performing team to lose out on income is hardly going to maintain quality. It will make it harder for them to compete and probably end up with them folding, in which case, what is the point? That was a Bernie policy and it didn’t work.

        (By the way, 26 is the maximum number of cars currently permitted)

    24. For me the grid looks sparse with the current 10 teams, so 12 minimum. It won’t make that much difference in terms of domination by a few top teams, but it will provide more racing and more issues for the front runners (more chances of a SC, problems in traffic etc). And it would provide more testing grounds for rookie drivers and jobs for engineers etc. 14 or 15 teams sounds ideal.

    25. Quality matters. I don’t think it does anything positive for the sport to have couple of filler teams at the back who never amount to anything and at best can hope to luck into single points finish every 5 years. F1 should and could do more to help new teams come in but I don’t want another marussia or caterham. F1 could make it easier for the new teams to survive their first 2 years in the sport. Allowing new teams to buy full cars for their first year for example would allow the team to build and grow more naturally without having to get everything to place straight for the first year.

      If I had to guess the first year is incredibly expensive for a new team because they get no money from f1 even after their first season, have to pay the entry fee, buy and build the facilities and have to try to get the best people they can which they can’t because all the key people have maximised gardening leaves in their contracts. Allowing a 2 year build up program before the team is required to be a full constructor would surely make the financials make more sense. Not only would this make the first 2 years (including the one before their first race season) less expensive but it would also allow a team to enter f1 at least year earlier than in current system because it can build itself during the first year. But of course the money distribution needs to be fixed as well. If new teams are not automatically entitled to their share of the teams’ money it is a pretty awful system for any new teams.

      As for ideal number… If we set the minimum to the level of haas we can’t even fill a grid of 20 quality cars at this moment. Williams has a lot of history but as it is they are that filler team that I don’t even think deserves their slot. And they are multi hundred million f1 team. And they suck at embarrassing level. F1 really needs a magical circumstances to get ANY more new teams into f1. Let alone competitive ones. The current engine rules have set big portion of the team performance and political power to stone and the existing engine manufacturers have 8 year head start with the stagnant design that is massively expensive and will stay for very long time. No car manufacturer is going to even think about f1. Only people or entities that could enter f1 are either billionaires and/or big business owners. I still have no idea how haas f1 team makes sense for haas but another haas is probably the best chance for f1 to get another team. They are open to buying engines where they can get them, they have wealthy people behind them so they can survive the rough first 3 years and they have some level of existing facilities so the chance of them failing before the first race is small.

      So that ideal number is 15 teams. If you can guarantee quality the more the better. Obviously. But as it is the ideal number of teams for f1 at this moment is actually one less than we have. We only have 9 competent quality teams on the grid. Maybe the question we should be asking is how few teams could f1 have. What is the bare minimum number of teams before it all breaks down?

      1. @socksolid, Excellent points also.

    26. More teams and more cars, at least 12 teams on the field for 24 cars.

      However, as many have said, those new teams need to be competitive and not just rolling around three laps down and generally being a nuisance. A team needsto start off on the right foot ala Haas and not just be another HRT or Caterham.

    27. 26 cars is the ideal amount for F1 I think. Obviously it’s better if all those cars are competitive (at least with each other if not with the leaders).

    28. I think there should be an option of either relegating teams or prequalifying.
      Then the pay structure has to be redone to ensure all teams get a minimum payment.
      Then they can fight for the remaining funds.
      If teams don’t meet a certain level of performance, they drop to F2
      Engines, gearboxes and some other key components have to be made available. Hence the FIA or FOM can pay for these parts and resell or make available to new entrant teams.
      Or the FIA can make a standard gearbox which all teams are mandated to buy at a fair price, even if they do choose to make their personal gearboxes.

      1. Magnus Rubensson (@)
        22nd July 2019, 20:10

        I like the idea of relegating / promoting teams between different series.
        I think there should be at least 13 teams in F1, maybe even 15 (15 teams means prequalifying).

        The two lowest finishing teams drop down to F2 after the season.
        The two highest finishing F2 teams are promoted to F1.
        Could do the same between F2 and F3 (like the divisions in football).

        If this was the case today, then the DAMS, UNI-Virtuosi and ART teams (current top three F2 teams) would already be at the lower end of F1 and there would be 26 cars on the F1 grid.
        Single-car teams should be allowed.
        Teams wanting to run two cars must SELL at least one car to a privateer team.
        Would Merc and Ferrari want to run three cars? No problem – just sell at least TWO more cars to privateer teams.

        The grid could then contain three silver factory Mercs, three red factory Ferraris PLUS two blue privateer Mercs plus one yellow and one white privateer Ferrari.
        Points should be given for all finishing places down to 20th. This makes the lower end of the table more interesting. Can Williams stay in or will they be relegated to F2…?

        Any new team wanting to come into F1 will have to win or come second in the F2 series first.
        If they manage that, they will be in F1 the following year.
        Fire away… :)

    29. There was a clear hypocrisy to the ‘quality over quantity’ mantra espoused by Bernie Ecclestone when, while F1 was under his watch, car numbers plunged from a peak entry of 39 cars three decades ago to barely more than half that today. The same principle clearly never applied to F1’s ever-growing calendar.

      Well, yes. But no: not everyone should be able to be in F1, simply because the pinnacle of Motorsport demands exorbitant expenses. That’s a given and we are doing F1 a disservice by demanding cost-caps and cheaper everything.
      I will be (following for 35+ years) very happy with fewer but better teams. No, balancing the field by creating rules that hinder top teams is not the solution, it’s artificial and backwards because it’s the lesser teams who must be up to the task, and as a whole keep F1 always evolving naturally.

    30. Can’t edit comments. So 90s.

      *No, balancing the field by creating rules that hinder top teams or turbo boost buttons are not the solution

    31. Voted 12+. More teams to put back the Grand in Grand Prix. Under the condition of course that all teams are reseasonably competitive and economically sustainable.

    32. I voted for No Opinion. Of course, voting that way doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion, my opinion is summed up in Keith’s (@keithcollantine) “Against” comment, “F1 needs to look after the teams it has first before thinking of adding more.” F1 has a serious “unequal competition” problem. Last season only one driver from a team outside the best paid three reached the podium. I’m quite sure each of those best paid three can muster really good arguments as to why they deserve to be paid that amount, but I’m equally sure the lowest paid three could muster equally good arguments as to how much better they’d race if they had more money.
      Another point is that stupid rule that says new teams won’t be paid for competing. If a team lines up on the grid, then they are part of the entertainment so should be paid.

    33. 10 + equal financial treatment

    34. “Add too many races and viewers will grow bored…” – No. What bores viewers is the all too common ‘spectacle’ in modern “races” that turn out to be a tyre saving procession. The public want to see genuine battles for the leading positions with on track action; not squables for 18th and 19th place.

      Just my two penn’orth…

      1. Thanks.

    35. More teams, more cars allowed in the teams (more than 2) and the whole field should score points. The constructor championship points should be awarded to 2 car teams. So if your team have 4 cars, you can have team A and team B scoring points separately.

    36. I voted for 12 or more. While at first I thought this should be limited to cars that are competitive with the front runners, maybe it is enough to have more cars for the back markers to compete against. If we had competition up and down the grid, albeit in different informal classes, and these battles were shown on TV that can’t be a bad thing, can it? Endurance racing has great battles up and down the grid in different formal classes. Of course, these teams would need to be financially viable as well. Having teams fold up is bad for everyone.

    37. Roberto Giacometti
      22nd July 2019, 0:10

      Let’s go back to 1989 and the days of PRE- QUALIFYING on early Friday mornings !!!! 15 teams!!!

    38. I vote for 12+ even though I know Bernie’s poison pill legacy of massive debt makes it almost impossible. Without the debt F1 would have plenty of revenue to support both more teams and free-to-air broadcasting. FTA broadcasting would provide the teams with more sponsorship revenue as well.

    39. In an ideal world there would be as many teams that want to enter, with the starting grid capped to 30 cars (maybe 20 in Monaco and other street races), that way you would be sure to have very competitive races. The current problem is that the entry barrier is impossibly high for almost everyone, so it would need to be brought down, it won’t happen because it would mean massive cut backs in the existing teams. But I see no reason why there cannot be three cars entered by every existing team to boost the races to 30 cars, the facilities are already there for most of the teams, and the money exists in the sport for it to be possible, they just need to have the guts to invest in the idea.

    40. Whats the point in having more teams? Just more back markers for the top 3 to lap?

      Yeah sure.

      Lets see how the new cost structure plays out before looking to expand. If not, we’ll just end up with another Caterham-HRT-Marussia situation.

    41. 12 teams with minimum 5 Engine Manufacturers. So we need 1 more engine manufacturer with 2 new teams.

    42. There’s enough money and talent to support 15 teams easy, it’s just that the money’s unfairly channeled towards a few teams which ensures that the hegemony continues slowly ebbing away at F1’s sporting relevance.

    43. I would prefer less teams, with more drivers per team. Something like 8 teams x 3 drivers = 24 total. This way there are less ‘mouths to feed’ but can get the number of cars up. Besides, there would always at least an extra driver in the championship fight.

      1. It’s actually not a bad idea but it should be all teams and not just the top.

    44. Voted for 12+ but only because probably 13 teams (or 26 cars) is my ideal.

      Rather than trying to fill the grid with back marker teams, we should be using single car entries using a current spec (or previous if allowed) car bought from another team. Much like LCR run in motoGP. You could even give them 3 years before they must move to the Haas model (at minimum).

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