Ten years on, why F1’s ‘class of 2010’ failed to make the grade

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The late noughties marked a torrid period for Formula 1. ‘Spygate’ in 2007 started with allegations of illegal data sharing between Ferrari and McLaren employees, and ended with a $100m fine and mysterious death of one of the protagonists. ‘Crashgate’, which occured in 2008 and was exposed the year after, saw Renault wilfully trigger a crash to benefit the strategy of its other car. The same year the president of the FIA, Max Mosley, was drawn into a lurid scandal by a tabloid newspaper which published details of his sex life.

Add in vociferous threats of breakaway series, teams’ refusal to sign a revised Concorde Agreement, demands that Mosley step down and the withdrawals of Honda, BMW, Toyota and eventually (though the latter remained as an engine supplier), and clearly these were truly turbulent times for the sport.

Underlying all this was Mosley’s efforts to implement one of the most contentious regulations in recent F1 history: A formula for an optional $40 million per year budget cap. Any teams operating under it would enjoy greater technical freedoms than their big-spending rivals.

Although open to all, the budget formula was aimed primarily at newcomers who, the FIA hoped, would be on their side during the increasingly acrimonious political disputes. Unwritten was that the newbies would use Cosworth engines.

In return they would benefit from Column 3 monies, a separate $30m annual ‘pot’ created for them as they would be hard-pressed to qualify for Column 1 and 2 income given that the revenue structure – still in place – required teams to place amongst the top ten to qualify for payment, and there could be up to 13 teams.

USF1's Anderson and Windsor
Anderson and Windsor planned America’s return to F1
The concept sprang from a presentation made to the FIA World Motorsport Council in late 2008 by Kenny Anderson and Peter Windsor – the former an engineer who dabbled in F1 had various levels; the latter a journalist-turned-team/driver manager who had previously attempted to switch to team ownership.

They had designs on entering F1 with a US-based team, to be named USF1, which they planned to operate on an annual budget of $40m by running Cosworth/Hewland powertrains and cutting back on the extravagances flaunted by manufacturer teams. Thus they went about convincing the FIA of their concept.

Motorsport’s governing body, intent on neutralising the power of big-buck manufacturer teams – whose influence enabled them to wag the dog too often for comfort – latched on to USF1’s blueprint, turned it into a set of regulations and went forth preaching the gospel of low-cost F1. No fewer than 15 outfits express interest, including myf1dream.com, a crowd-funded operation that – not surprisingly – failed to fly.

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The ‘lucky’ chosen teams were USF1, Manor Racing, Campos Meta and 1MalaysiaF1, the latter under the adopted name Lotus. Cast-offs included re-imaginings of March, Lola and Brabham, plus Team Superfund, then operating a feeder series. Also rejected were respected names such as Prodrive and WSR team Epsilon Euskadi, while touring car operators N.Technology and Mallock withdrew once the level of F1 politicking became apparent.

Lucas di Grassi, Lewis Hamilton, Jerez, 2010
The new teams were a long way behind the established runners
As it turned out, the budget concept proved utterly myopic and was never introduced. The ‘losers’ could consider themselves fortunate, as the fates of those who made the cut demonstrated.

USF1 didn’t make it as far as pre-season testing. Campos ran out of cash before the first race and was half-rescued, only to die a slow death three years later.

Lotus, funded by Malaysian aviation entrepreneur Tony Fernandes – a colourful individual who seemed unable to recite the same story twice – eventually became Caterham following a long dispute with the former Renault works team over who had the right to use the name of Colin Chapman’s great team.

Manor designed a car with insufficient fuel capacity for its first season, requiring a change of chassis. Despite this inauspicious start it out-lasted the other three but underwent various changes of identity before going into administration after the 2016 season.

Meanwhile Stefan GP, a subsidiary of a Serbian arms company, attempted to acquire each team in sequence, then acquired Toyota’s cast-off F1 car. Zoran Stefanovic’s efforts even went as far as shipping a few tables and chairs to the 2010 season-opener in Bahrain, but got no further.

At the time surprise was expressed that Prodrive was sidelined. But it seemed David Richards’s company had committed the cardinal sin of spelling the name of its engine supplier as ‘Mercedes’ rather than ‘Cosworth’, having done a deal to acquire McLaren-Mercedes technology in a deal similar to that now enjoyed by Haas with Ferrari.

Lotus launch, 2010
Trulli was one of several ex-Toyota staff to end up at Lotus
Despite having kicked off the entire budget concept, USF1 bombed due to a lack of time. When they made their pitch to the FIA they planned on a three-year ramp-up period to sweet-talk investors and sponsors, establish bases on both sides of the Atlantic and design and build the first all-new US F1 car since the efforts of Vels Parnelli in 1974-76. Then the FIA compressed the time frame from two years to nine months…

In December 2008, having gotten wind of USF1’s plans, I called Anderson, who begged me not to publish until they were ready to announce; in return, I would enjoy exclusive inside access. The following March I ‘scooped’ the story, then broke various news snippets before travelling to Charlotte in August for a feature.

I voiced my concern about the (relative) lack of progress, but was assured all was well. I was subsequently introduced to Chad Hurley, one of the founders of YouTube, who was allegedly bankrolling the team. Yes, Chad was an investor, but at minority level.

Come mid-February, with their race debut a month away, it was apparent the USF1 car, based on antiquated technology, was nowhere close to running. The team could not afford Cosworth’s engine bill. Meanwhile Campos, who commissioned Dallara to build its chassis, was also in dire straits over unpaid bills, so plans were hatched for two struggling efforts to support each other.

Both teams requested a three-race moratorium, in turn declined by the FIA – by then presided over by Jean Todt after Mosley stepped down at the end of his term. USF1’s game was over.

By chance I was on the telephone to Anderson when I received the FIA’s email, so read the contents to him. He promised to get back to me once he’d made enquiries. I’m still waiting for that call, but I can at least claim to be both the first and last journalist to talk to Anderson as team boss of USF1.

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Bruno Senna, HRT, Bahrain, 2010
HRT were still finishing their cars at the first race
Campos mutated into Hispania Racing Team after team founder Adrian Campos transferred his interests to the Carabante family, early investors in the project. So late had it been left that the team’s second chassis, for Karun Chandhok, had its first run in Q1 in Bahrain. Had the 107% rule been in place neither he nor team mate Bruno Senna would have made the cut for the race. Having started from the pits they pootled around some eight seconds slower than Rubens Barrichello, driving a Williams with identical Cosworth power, then retired.

A week later I flew to Melbourne for the second round, and landed a lucky upgrade to seat 1A in an Airbus A380 for the 16-hour flight to Melbourne. The aircraft was the first to offer 1st Class privacy booths and full telephony access. Seated in 1B was Colin Kolles, the Munich-based sometime F1 team principal and sports car entrant who had been appointed boss of HRT.

Throughout the flight Kolles made lengthy calls to suppliers and the team. He was clearly unaware of the adjacent presence of a multi-lingual journalist who could not help but overhear his conversations. The look on Colin’s face when he realised it after landing was priceless. I was later commissioned to write a magazine feature on any of the new teams, and obviously chose HRT – for which he never forgave me…

Manor – now known as Virgin in a series of renaming exercises that took on serial proportions – fared better in Bahrain, but only marginally so given that both cars retired, but at least the quickest car was only four seconds off Williams.

Lotus beat the Virgin in the season opener, then held the upper hand for most of 2010, primarily due to Virgin’s fuel tank problem and the fact that chief designer Nick Wirth, tellingly once a close associate of Mosley’s, was unable to decide whether his design was the first to be created solely by CFD or not. That made upgrades difficult, and pointed to deeper issues. He eventually left to design robotic dogs.

Heikki Kovalainen, Nick Heidfeld, Hungaroring, 2011
Two ‘Lotuses’ on the grid in 2011
Fernandes harboured lofty ambitions, and for 2011 cut deals with Renault for engines and Red Bull for transmissions, but hit legalities after the licence to use ‘Lotus’ was rescinded and awarded to the former Renault team.

Still, he attempted to race as ‘Team Lotus’, so for 2011 F1 laboured under the utterly ridiculous situation of two-each Team Lotus-Renault and Lotus-Renault GP Team cars on the grid – the former in traditional green-and-yellow and the latter in similarly retro black-and-gold. So desperate was Fernandes to be linked to Lotus that he acquired Caterham Car Company, manufacturer of Lotus 7-based sports cars, and took on their name in 2012.

Whatever, after HRT died at end-2012 the fight over last place was waged between two teams variously known as 1MaslaysiaF1/Lotus/Team Lotus/Caterham F1 and Manor/Virgin/Marussia/MRT/Manor again. These battles continued until the end of 2014, when Caterham made a last-gasp appearance in Abu Dhabi with an administrator running the show after Kolles, who had switched allegiances, left the bankrupt team.

There were, though, frivolous moments, such as a wager between Fernandes and Virgin boss Richard Branson over the outcome of the first season – the loser acting as air steward on the winner’s airline. It was Branson who donned an apron, though none of the newcomers posted a points-scoring finish in their first year. Or 2011 and 2012.

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Jules Bianchi, Marussia, Monaco, 2014
Bianchi scored the first points for Marussia – formerly Manor
Far worse were the two tragedies which struck the Manor team during its brief time in F1. Maria de Villota suffered a serious head injury in which she lost an eye in a private test for the team at Duxford Aerodrome in 2012. She died the following year. Then in 2014 Jules Bianchi, who had scored the team’s first points in Monaco earlier that year, crashed in the rain at Suzuka, striking a recovering vehicle. He also sustained head injuries and was left comatose. Bianchi died the following year.

The renamed Manor team raced on for two more years after being acquired in administration by an energy entrepreneur with designs on the big time, but this was not too last. At the end of 2016, after failing to place tenth in the constructors championship and thus looking at a $35m hole the team finally collapsed.

Under various guises the trio of Budget Babes entered 282 grands prix, collectively making over 500 starts. Between them they spent an estimated billion dollars – the $40m budget cap having been scrapped after entries closed and a replacement Resource Restriction Agreement proving toothless. Only Manor scoring points: three in total, after the points table was restructured to pay to tenth place from 2010.

Where did the FIA go wrong with its much-vaunted $40m budget formula, designed (and said) to save F1 from itself? In retrospect it is clear that USF1’s was a blueprint but no business model, and to paraphrase Henry Ford: “Success is one per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration.”

Narain Karthikeyan, HRT, Sepang, 2011
HRT made their need for sponsors clear in 2011
The major teams used every weapon in their formidable armouries to squash the budget cap formula, with Ferrari taking on the FIA in a Parisian court room – the Scuderia lost, but only on a technicality an appeal court is likely to have overruled. Ultimately the cap was dead and the alternative mechanism – the RRA – was laughably ineffective given that teams undertook to police themselves.

As a result, teams that had come in under the promise of $40m budgets suddenly discovered they needed double that simply to survive let alone score points.

The FIA was weakened by the team onslaught – orchestrated by the Formula One Teams Association, founded by Ferrari’s Luca Montezemolo – aimed primarily at Mosley, whom they wanted to step down at the end of his presidency. Was he pushed or shoved? Opposing sides see it differently, but who knows what was agreed behind closed doors?

His successor, Jean Todt, who had led Ferrari to great heights, took a more pragmatic view: Yes, caps on spending were crucial to the long-term survival of F1, but knee-jerk measures are no long-term solution. Under his aegis a more realistic budget cap of $175m is mandated from 2021, 10 years after that misguided $40m initiative. Yes, $175m is still too much, but at least consensus was reached on the need for a cap.

Worse, after committing to join F1, the 2010 entrants discovered through the media that plans for the $40m cap had been scrapped. By then it was too late to withdraw: millions had been sunk into car designs and facilities, staff had been recruited and contracts signed.

Then there are arguments that the wrong teams were selected by the FIA in the first place – USF1 in place of Prodrive, for example – rather than persuading manufacturers to remain in F1, but back then the soft option was to attract submissives.

Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, Yas Marina, 2016
When Manor disappeared, all the 2010 newcomers were gone
Finally, the selection process yielded quantity and not quality: The Bahrain 2010 grid was the largest in F1 since 1995, but arguably the lowest in quality since the sixties. Tellingly, since the budget cap Haas F1 entered under stringent process and a business model not unlike that devised by Prodrive.

As F1 faces its new dawn in 2021 and prepares to open a new team selection process there are lessons to be learned from the fate of 2010’s newcomers. Vet applicants carefully to ensure they have the wherewithal to survive beyond three seasons, and ensure that the revenue structure provides at least a realistic chance of survival.

In 2009 the newbies were granted around nine months to go from zero to grid, and clearly that was insufficient. By contrast, Haas had two years – the lesson is that the new team selection needs to get underway soonest if there are to be new teams on the grid in 2021. But, of course, the major teams are pushing back against newcomers – history may inform, but it seldom changes.

Equally prospective team owners – and there are said to be as many as five out there, including Adrian Campos – should prepare for revised regulations and circumstances that could wreck their plans at a stroke, so must ensure that their business models and contingency plans are sufficiently robust to cope with the ebb and flow of F1. As it transpired, the $40m dream quickly turned into a billion-dollar nightmare.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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  • 37 comments on “Ten years on, why F1’s ‘class of 2010’ failed to make the grade”

    1. Great article. A chilling necrology but i enjoyed reading it, very informativ.

      1. Yes, a great article. Thanks Dieter.

      2. the withdrawals of Honda, BMW, Toyota and eventually (though the latter remained as an engine supplier), and clearly these were truly turbulent times for the sport.

        It would be even better if it was better written.

    2. Why does there even need to be a team selection process?

      Why not just set a grid limit of 26 cars & let whoever wants to enter have a go which is the way it was in F1 for decades & the way it’s still done in other categories. If you have more than 26 cars turn up then have qualifying & send those who don’t make the top 26 places home…. Again as was done in the past.

      1. Was wondering about this as I read the article. Sometimes feels like we have rules just for the sake of having rules…

      2. @stefmeister, the reason probably is because of the nature of some of the teams that ended up appearing in F1 due to those rules, particularly in the 1990s – some of them were embarrassingly poorly run and sound more like parodies of a racing team, whilst some of those teams veered into being outright dangerous to themselves and to others.

        Some of the stories being told of how some cars were being prepared are rather worrying – you had outfits like Onyx hastily welding broken suspension parts back together at the circuit and then, later in the season, the team owner, Peter Monteverdi, started taking bits from the various sportscars that he’d collected over the years and started using those to try and bodge something together.

        You had Andrea Moda and the mysteries of Andrea Sassetti’s sources of wealth, with some suggesting potential links to organised crime – particularly after the attempted drive by shooting of Andrea Sassetti – or AGS, where the poor design of the rollover structure contributed towards Streiff’s testing accident and being left as a quadriplegic.

        When you look at the experience the sport had with some – in fact, quite a lot – of those teams from the early 1990s, it is perhaps unsurprising that they toughened up the entry rules after that.

        Some of the teams which did then apply in more recent times were perhaps not outfits that you’d really want. For example, you had the Villeneuve-Durango bid that tried to enter F1 in 2011, but given that Durango, when competing in GP2, had a car expelled from a race by the stewards after they found that Durango had botched repairs to the rear load bearing structures (which caused the rear wing to collapse on one car), resulting in a car that was a death trap, and then in 2009 reportedly had a car seized by Dallara because Durango had carried out so many botched repairs it was now unsafe to use. Would it really be a good idea to let a team like that enter a car into a Formula 1 race?

        1. I get all that but you have more strict scrutineering & safety measures in place today that would prevent a lot of that from happening.

          For me if a team has the funds to field 2 cars (Although i’d also go back to allowing single car entry’s) that meet the regulations & Pass all the crash test’s they should be allowed to turn up. Yes we may get some cars that are miles off the pace but I don’t think it was really that big of an issue in the past so I don’t really see why it should be in the future.

          Maybe i’ve just spent too much time watching older stuff recently but I just hate how restrictive things have gotten now in a lot of ways…. And not just in F1 either.

          1. Magnus Rubensson (@)
            23rd January 2020, 13:13

            +1
            Unfortunately F1 has won the entire world and lost its soul in the process.

        2. We’re trying to get rid of blue flags, not have more of them. Brand new teams pootling around at the back miles off the pace does no one any favours.

          1. Then make the 107% rule stricter. The point is that anyone who produces a car that meets regulations should be allowed to participate, if only in pre-qualifying. That’s how it should work if F1 is a *sport*. You don’t need a special permit to run a marathon either.

    3. Let’s not forget the drivers that were given a chance in F1 with Manor, HRT and Lotus.
      I think Chandhock, B. Senna, Ericsson, Werhlein and Ricciardo all debuted with one of these three teams, and I did enjoy the battles they had not to be last!

    4. They were enticed in by a Formula that changed before they even got off the ground – the new teams were doomed before the 2010 season even started unfortunately. It’s a massive shame they are gone because the battle at the back of the grid is as important as the one at the front.

      In addition, the smaller teams are great proving grounds for drivers, engineers and mechanics…these opportunities are lost to a generation of young talent now. HRT let Ricciardo get used to the F1 circus in relative anonymity. Today’s leading engineers began their careers with smaller teams back in the day (such as James Allison at Larrouse, Aldo Costa at Minardi or Adrian Newey at Leyton House). And to top that off, who doesn’t love a giant killing story like Jules Bianchi scoring points for Manor at the most famous race of the year.

      Anyone who says the grid doesn’t need smaller teams like HRT, Manor or Caterham (or for us older folks, Zakspeed, Osella or Scuderia Italia) needs their head examined…

      1. Let’s not forget the drivers that were given a chance in F1 with Manor, HRT and Lotus.

        In addition, the smaller teams are great proving grounds for drivers, engineers and mechanics…these opportunities are lost to a generation of young talent now. HRT let Ricciardo get used to the F1 circus in relative anonymity. Today’s leading engineers began their careers with smaller teams back in the day (such as James Allison at Larrouse, Aldo Costa at Minardi or Adrian Newey at Leyton House).

        @philrenwick & @geemac – very nice observations supplementing a nice article.

        Anyone who says the grid doesn’t need smaller teams […] needs their head examined…

        What’s concerning is where Liberty’s head is at – a few weeks ago, Dieter mentioned a proposal that teams entering F1 would need to pay $200 million as an entry fee (not sure if that has been shelved or not), and we’ve all had complaints about how the TV director is more focused on satisfying sponsor and circuit host obligations instead of focusing on where the action is.

    5. A little substory, Josef Král of the Czech republic was beating De la Rosa and Karthikeyan by quite a margin in 2012 testing and the team actually decided to sign him up for 2013. Few fews later the HRT just went bankrupt. I think we missed fine driver who sadly wasn’t backed up by money or his nationality.

      1. *few weeks. Phew, what a blunder!

    6. José Lopes da Silva
      22nd January 2020, 18:04

      Unfortunately, I think we are all dreaming about something that never happened. Of course there should be races with 26 cars, or even 30. Backmarkers are vital and a grid of 20 is too short.
      But we shouldn’t dream of 1989. Most of those teams were too amateurish. We relish on memories, but I don’t want the next Portuguese driver to be stuck in a team with 10 people and unable to do more than a couple of laps before the car breaks down. And 1989 happened under specific economic circunstances.

    7. “mysterious death”? wasn’t Stepney killed in a road car accident?

      1. He was apparently knocked over by a truck after walking onto a motorway. Hence mysterious.

        1. Well, the truck driver is known by police not some mystery, it wasn’t found any discrepancy with his declarations.
          Points he committed suicide, maybe just not the most orthodox way to do that.

    8. how far off the mark was that 40 million budget? I mean, with today’s cars and engines, it sure is an impossible figure, but back then, was it that big of a step between the annual budgets of the competing teams? those V8s had been running since 2006, and the aero regulations had only 1 major change, in 2009…

      1. When the figure was formulated, the manufacturer teams were on at least $250m all in. To gain an idea how far off the mark 40m was, consider that in 2012 Williams with the same Renault engine was consistently 2 secs per lap faster than Caterham. And Williams was prob on $100m back then.

    9. The way I see it those three new teams could not survive in f1 in any kind of universe. The budget gap proposal was a lot more broken and plain odd than just having the low 40mil per year budget gap. There were talks about two sets of regulations. More freedom to these budget gap teams. And done in such way that the extra freedoms were to be adjusted during the season to “ensure that the cost-capped cars have neither an advantage nor a disadvantage when compared to cars running to the existing rules.”. It just would not could not work.

      The key issue for modern f1 is the multiple levels of competitive tiers. All the other problems are not important but the mercedes domination with occasional ferrari and rbr wins is the only realy massive issue. Imagine how much worse it could be if we had these budget gap “special” teams still there? We already have F1 and F1.5. And williams. Imagine adding a F1.9 into that mix with a set of regulations that makes it literally impossible for them to be competitive or improve in such way that they could become a F1.5 team later on? Imagine trying to push even a 175mil budget gap through.

      The entries of these 3 new teams were mistake. They were a mistake on the part of the teams, fia and f1 teams. Everything went wrong. But it wasn’t even a possible to make it work. Was it really even an honest attempt to fix anything?

      1. @socksolid

        The key issue for modern f1 is the multiple levels of competitive tiers.

        But that’s something that has always been a part of F1 & likely always will be. The difference between ‘tiers’ isn’t even as big now as it used to be & there certainly isn’t as many ‘tiers’ as there used to be.

        I don’t get why people are so obsessed now with trying to equalise everything so that everyone has a chance or whatever. This isn’t what F1 is meant to be & the constant efforts to dumb the sport down just because people have such low attention spans today & because modern society can’t accept the fact that some teams are at the back is a joke.

        F1 is today the same as it’s always been….. It’s the modern fans that have changed (For the worst).

        1. Because back then there was no internet and no smartphones, plus F1 was on Free-to-air
          Nowadays with YouTube, Netflix etc it’s a bit hard to attract new fans especially considering disposable income of the current generation and being a generation not crazy about cars with the presence of ride sharing services
          I can watch GT races on YouTube a whole day, one Saturday I watched four races at 6.00 a.m, 12 p.m, 4 p.m and an American race at around 2 a.m.
          There was an F1 race that I just listened to it’s watchalong while watching a GT race

        2. F1 has always had a dominating team but it was different team almost every year. Now it has been mercedes, ferrari and red bull on that order for like 7 years in a row and after next year it will be 8 years. If that had been 3 years of merc domination, 3 years of ferrari domination and 2 years of red bull domination it would be fine. Never before in history has one team so totally dominated over 8 years. And it is even worse when we all know for a fact it won’t change for 2020. We know that with 100% certainty. Back when ferrari was dominating or when red bull was dominating or when even mclaren was dominating you could always look forward to the next year to see how things will change. Everybody here knows merc will win 2020. It would be a massive surprise to see ferrari or red bull to catch up. This is why it is bad and this is why it is worse than ever before.

        3. The reliability was much lower in earlier decades, it was not uncommon to have less than 10 cars running at the finish (sometimes even less than 5) which gave the opportunity for a surprise result every now and then. Even the Minardis of the time were able to score points and even be on the cusp of getting onto the podium a few times. Today with bulletproof reliability this is not possible, as the dominant cars will almost always finish races and finish in top positions, unless there is some sort of a human error involved (driver crashes, or a messy pitstop). So where in the olden days the dominant car would occasionally falter and thus open up opportunities for others, nowadays the dominant car is always dominant and those at the back have no hope for a surprise result.

      2. @socksolid

        More freedom to these budget cap teams.

        Which is why i feel the 2021 budget cap should have entailed, bring back the sort of free thinking & innovation that used to be a big part of F1 as well as giving us cars that look very different to one another.

        I hate how the regulations have become so restrictive that the cars all look more or less the same now. Having a field of different looking cars made things look a lot more interesting & i think that was the same with other categories that have since sadly gone spec (indycar been the obvious example), a field of cars that are the same or just all look the same is rather boring tbh.

        1. If you made the 2021 rules free and had the budget gap come on for 2021 you would just have the big teams spend billions in 2020 to create best possible car for 2021 onwards. Design it under unlimited funds, race it under the budget gap. Not only is it easy wins but nobody can catch you. The rules can only be relaxed once the budget gap is in place. Not before because it would be a spending race bigger than ever before. It is unfortunate that the new tech rules and budget gap begin at the same year.

          The big fear I have is that once they introduce spec parts (gearbox, uprights, brakes, monococques, etc) they also take away the technical skills and abilities from the teams the teams need to make those parts. It is hard to give back the freedoms in technical design if the teams have laid off the people and sold the facilities they had earlier for making those parts. It is a one way street that needs careful thinking in case of f1. Especially when reacquiring those facilities under budget gap is literally making your car slower on the track in the short term.

        2. @roger-ayles, the 2021 regulations is not just about making the cars “look more or less the same” – the deliberate intention of the regulations is to force the teams to have to adopt a single design philosophy, with large chunks of the car standard specification parts in all but name.

          Whilst socksolid might advocate the idea that “the rules can only be relaxed once the budget gap is in place”, there is no intention to relax the rules – partially because it seems that the cars have to be kept to that semi-spec design in order to achieve the sorts of downforce figures they are claiming, and partially because it seems they don’t want to have performance divergence.

    10. mysterious death of one of the protagonists? no one get that fate in a multimillion dollar business, that guy was probably killed by Mafia or something like that.

      1. @re-play, the use of the word “mysterious” is perhaps a bit flawed.

        What is known is that Nigel Stepney parked on the side of the M20 motorway in the early hours of the morning, only to then end up wandering onto the motorway – resulting in him being struck by a lorry and being killed at the scene.

        The coroner was unable to definitely establish what exactly happened, but the circumstantial evidence suggested that Stepney committed suicide. The testimony of the lorry driver suggested that Stepney deliberately threw himself into the path of the lorry, and the policeman who attended the scene noted that the damage pattern to the lorry was consistent with Stepney jumping in front of the lorry. A friend of the family also confirmed at that enquiry that, only three days earlier, Stepney had taken out two life insurance policies, with Stepney’s family as the beneficiaries.

        The sequence of events is not fully known, but the events beforehand do seem to suggest that Stepney intended to commit suicide – in that sense, it would be more accurate to describe it as a tragedy rather than a mystery.

        1. Of course its tragic, but it is equally mysterious. The two are not mutually exclusive as you imply.

    11. Ian Phillips said Marussia and Caterham could have been merged but politics got in the way.

    12. Super article Dieter as always. Seems as if these teams were led on a merry dance to ruin. They never stood a chance. Having said that I do think some of the management of these teams were deluded if they thought that they’d be competitive. Particularly Tony Fernandes, felt like he was trying to do too much to quick and had no real plan apart from a famous name. IF there are to be new teams, the people in charge have to be thorough in planning and realistic about their expectations

    13. Ian Phillips said when he was working with Marussia that they could have merged with Caterham but politics got in the way.

    14. Henry Ford: “Success is one per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration.”

      It was Thomas Edison who said that, Dieter.

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