Ross Brawn, Spa-Francorchamps, 2019

F1 teams want 24-car grid in 2021 but Brawn isn’t convinced

2019 Belgian Grand Prix

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Several Formula 1 team bosses have expressed eagerness to see more new competitors join the sport in 2021.

However F1’s managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn has said he would prefer to keep the sport at its current level of 10 teams for the time being.

As RaceFans revealed last week at least one new team, Panthera Team Asia F1, is looking to join the championship in time for the arrival of new regulations in 2021.

In yesterday’s FIA press conference several F1 team principals urged the sport to welcome new competitors. Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul wants F1 to grow beyond its current 10 teams “frankly and quickly”.

“If it’s good teams, strong teams with good backing then it’s a sustainable project in my opinion, yes,” he added in response to a question from RaceFans.

Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost said he agreed: “12 teams, it’s a good number, and you never know what’s going on with any other team. That means we need as many cars as possible on the starting grid.

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“I think 24 is also acceptable from the safety side and from the race track and also from the space on the tracks. I would welcome them, yes.”

Expanding the grid would “a good thing”, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner agreed, “as long as they are well-funded and high-profile.”

“But also what FOM needs to look after is the teams that are here. We shouldn’t go and just try to get new teams because new is better. It needs to be looked after, the teams that are here who are doing a good job, who made a big investment and just thinking more is better, that will not work as well.”

Brawn admitted the planned changes to F1’s rules in 2021 has attracted interest from potential new teams, but believes the current 20-car grid is sufficient.

“We have a surprising number of teams that have shown an interest,” he told Sky. “But what we’ve said to those teams is let’s get these rules introduced, let’s stabilise the situation, let’s get everything working properly before we seek more teams. I think with the 10 teams we have, 10 healthy teams in Formula 1 is actually enough.

“If we do get any extra teams they’ve got to really add to the show. We must learn from history. Some of these small teams came and went and didn’t really add to Formula 1. So I think we’ve got to stabilise what we’re introducing in ’21 and then look at where there’s an opportunity for more teams.”

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21 comments on “F1 teams want 24-car grid in 2021 but Brawn isn’t convinced”

  1. Interesting – a Liberty rep wanting to go slow on adding new teams, while their putative competitors are eager for them to join.

    1. @phylyp: Can only assume it means that Liberty has plans for a more equitable, but reduced payout to the teams. Adding another 2 teams is another expense that dilutes the more ‘equitable’ payment plan.

      1. That’s what I assume (and hope) @jimmi-cynic.
        But sticking with 10 also means they are susceptible to pressure from the three big teams threatening to quit. This will cost the FIA a veto and FOM extra money to heritage teams to keep those teams in the sport. Thus less freedom to make the sport more equitable and less money to pay the small teams.

        I know you didn’t buy into my earlier pitch but I’d still go for a tight budget cap (say 150M) and a fair money distribution system which could earn each team at least 150M, my thoughts:
        – 70M standard payment to each team;
        – 3-75M performance pay-out (WCC standing where 1st pays 25x3M, 2nd 18x3M, 3rd 15x3M, …. 10th 1x3M)
        – 25M minimum from car sponsorship (guaranteed);
        – 50M dividend. Each team to buy a 5% share in FOM for at least 500M; FOM offering 10yr loan if needed.

        The equity participation and (all but) guaranteed making money for each team will create value for each ‘franchise’. Thus if a team wants to stop (Mercedes, Ferrari, Haas, etc) they will sell the franchise rather than fold.

        1. I find your concept interesting. I like the idea of a $70M standard payout to each team, but I don’t know if you can sustain that with the “Racing points x $3M” payout. Maybe the latter part should be weighted to the funds available. Also, I don’t know if teams can afford to buy into a FOM share scheme. For me it is more important that if a team has cars on the starting grid then they should be paid regardless of how long they’ve been racing in F1.
          As you can guess, I think Special Bonuses should be completely abolished. This isn’t because I don’t appreciate the benefit of teams that have been in F1 for a long time, but because I believe F1 needs to give every team the belief they can win races, which isn’t the current situation.

          1. @phylyp @drycrust
            The performance bonus adds up to 303M, which together with the 10x70M is roughly the same as today.
            Indeed, predistribution EBITDA for FOM needs to increase from 2B target now, to 2.4B if there are 2 more teams. But any new team under this scheme will have to buy into FOM which gives FOM 1B to invest in the sport. And also under this scheme it is not as urgent to have new teams because nobody will leave (the can sell though).
            The 25M is like the Marlboro Ferrari deal. FOM buys the whole advertising space and fills it with partners (Heineken, Rolex, others). But I don’t think teams would do that as a half decent commercial department can sell the space for more and they’ll have better aligned partners (the name sponsorship itself is worth some 15M)

      2. @jimmi-cynic – good point. While a fixed total pot of money explains Brawn’s reticence (1 billion / 10 teams vs. 1 billion / 12 teams), that doesn’t account for why the other teams are eager to get new entrants in. Unless Renault is on the lookout for a B-team, seeing as how McLaren are beating the works team.

        @coldfly – wouldn’t the pot of prize money be fixed? So, a standard payment of 70 million each to 10 teams would mean that the same 700 million would need to be divided amongst 12 teams if the grid grew.

        I like the way your performance pay out uses as a multiplier the same point structure handed out in races. :)

        Minor question – in your proposal, who is guaranteeing the 25 million for car sponsorship? Liberty? Does that mean they will place F1 ads on the cars?

  2. Yes indeed. New teams should only join as long as they can add to the competition rather than merely be moving-chicanes as was the case with the three now-defunct entrants from 2010 to 2012.

    1. @jerejj
      Which is why I’d argue that forcing any new team to wait a year or two after the rule changes only leaves them to play catch-up, and be more likely to be moving chicanes all over again.

      Let em in immediately on a level playing field and see the commotion when someone new pulls a shock and turns out to be decent.

    2. Sure @jerejj, but let’s not forget that the last time round 3 teams were invited on the premise of getting that restricted budget with development freedom idea Mosley pushed for at the time (in part to break the power of the existing big teams and FOTA).

  3. In a era with an average of three retirements per race, having 24 cars will just add some teams scoring mostly 20th and 21st places. I agree with Ross brawn, if it is just to add a HRT like team there’s no use to that except to give experience to some rookie drivers.

    1. I couldn’t care less which position they’re fighting for; more cars on the grid looks better and provides more action.
      The reliability issue is a seperate one, which I love to see fixed.

  4. I for one used to like it when there were minnow teams like Minardi that were thebtraining ground for new talent. No one expected them to be near the front but they certainly contributed to F1.

    Had F1 allowed for a more equitable distribution of funds, Minardi would probably still exist and would probably be serving the same role that it did back then.

    Teams since then have come and gone because the funds distribution crippled them as did th fact that costs went through the roof with the new hybrid PU’s

    Provided the new regulations actually have a proper cost cap and an equitable distribution of funds, new teams should be able to join and survive. I doubt they’ll be all that competitive initially but they should be able to survive.

    They certainly need some “real” interest from one or two potential teams because there’s probably a very good chance of at least 1 team electing to leave F1 at the end of 2020.

    1. Lenny (@leonardodicappucino)
      31st August 2019, 10:30

      To be fair, Minardi as a training ground for new talent hasn’t stopped. They’ve just changed their name to Toro Rosso and are doing it for one specific team now.

    2. I agree, Brawn says the teams from 2010 didn’t add anything to Formula 1, but Ricciardo and Bianchi (RIP) got their start in those teams. Talent shines through even at the back, as Russell is showing this year. Marussia eventually got pretty close to the pack too, which considering their financial situation was quite remarkable.

  5. I just find it a bit dishonest from competing team principals to want more teams in the sport. The revenue that gets split to the teams can not be increased easily in the next decade without adding too many races to the calendar. And more teams will mean less money for existing ones.

    1. More teams make the sport look more viable, which leads to more viewers, which leads to more sponsors, which generates more money, which makes the sport look more viable, which leads to …..
      Imagine what a proper Chinese, and preferably an American team, will do to the viewer ratings.

  6. I wonder if the beginning of the 2021 rules—or shortly thereafter—might be one of the last chances in a long while to shore up the grid with major manufacturers, because if the budget cap is a success, the series becomes more competitive, and it becomes possible to run a team at a profit, the value of all the teams could rise dramatically. It won’t be possible any longer for a manufacturer to buy a team at a bargain-basement price.

    So from Liberty’s perspective, it makes sense to take things slow and try to attract high-profile brands or teams for the two or three “expansion” slots on the grid.

    Wouldn’t be surprised if they’re already reserving a slot for Michael Andretti, given his attempt to buy Force India and Carey’s recent comments about wanting another “high-profile US team”.

  7. I wonder – should teams seeking entry as a new team (i.e. not picking up the assets of or buying out another team) into F1 have “paid their dues” in a lower formula? We expect this of drivers and have put in place superlicense rules for the same, so I wonder, why not the teams also?

    If the desire is to have capable and competitive teams, then a greenfield approach into F1 is unlikely to succeed – the turn of the century showed us 3 such failures, and only Haas is a success in that respect.

    1. I really don’t think that makes sense in the current state of motorsport and F1 @phylyp.

      Sure, being experienced in running a racing operation helps a lot – but that could just as well be solved with partnering with one, or hiring experienced people (especially when the cost cap means big teams will have to cut down on staff, so they will be more widely available).

      Thing is, to be successfull in F1 you need far wider experience than with running a smaller racing team. You need the manufacturing (often not part of what lower tier formula allow anymore), you need the racing operation off course, but you also need a huge amount of development & design staff, you need far more project management experience. You need supply chain management etc. Well, and you need to be good at finding / bringing together / bringing with you a HUGE amount of money.

      All those skills are important. And it makes sense if the FIA and possibly FOM/Liberty as well, vet potential entries to see whether they check enough boxes to be a viable entrant. But I don’t think either of those alone can be or should be the deciding factor.
      Gaining an entry is always just the start of the trajectory of setting up a team, getting partners for engine, battery, gearbox, and parts, installing the factory, finding the team members etc. that hopefully leads to appearing on the grid a year or even two, later.

      1. You need the manufacturing (often not part of what lower tier formula allow anymore)

        @bascb – good points, particularly the ones about manufacturing & supplier management.

  8. “10 healthy teams in Formula 1 is actually enough” sure, and if you add some more teams (were actually short three teams and haven’t had a full grid since 1995) we might find 10 healthy ones.
    Fill the grid, where is the downside?

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