Analysis: What happens next in Formula 1 customer car debate

It is only a proposal at present, but momentum is building towards a Formula 1 whereby the grid will include third or customer/franchise cars, potentially as early as 2017

Analysis: What happens next in Formula 1 customer car debate

The idea is nothing new, of course, but on this occasion there is real weight behind the concept, to such an extent it dominated talks at last month's Strategy Group meeting.

When you add up the income smaller teams receive from prize money, sponsorship and whatever a driver can bring to the table it amounts to around $75-90 million per annum, yet they are spending at least $20million above that.

To survive, they have called for a more equitable distribution of the revenues, the abolition of windtunnels and a fairer contract from the manufacturers for the supply of engines, all to no avail.

THIRD CARS

As far as the 'big four' - Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren and Red Bull - are concerned there are two options on the table.

One is third cars, catered for in the bi-lateral agreements between the teams, the commercial rights holder and the FIA.

Although even here there is confusion as within some bi-laterals teams will only field a third car should the grid drop below 18 cars, in others it's 16.

What is certain is the prize money due to a team that goes out of business will be distributed equally to those teams that provide a third car.

Initially that money will go to the key quartet, however, there is provision for any team to provide a third car, albeit based on a ballot system.

With that third car it is likely a team would field a junior driver, potentially to make up a junior championship, with any points accrued only eligible for that 'series' and not for the main drivers' and constructors' titles.

It is also likely that car would carry a different livery to differentiate it from those driven by the senior pairing.

So on the positive side you have a platform for junior drivers, and you have the scope to open up the market to new sponsors, ensuring the operating costs of fielding such a car would be negligible.

Even for the smaller teams, should they choose to field a third car they would have the opportunity to sell it to a pay driver.

The downside, of course, is for a team such as Sauber, let's say, from a position of running 12th, 13th or 14th, it could potentially fall to 18th, 19th or 20th, and where is the attractiveness in that?

THE 'CUSTOMER' PROPOSAL

The more viable proposition for keeping a smaller team on the grid, even if effectively in name only, is to become a customer.

A lot of operating costs would disappear as it would shut down its windtunnel, dynos, simulators and CFD computers because it would be buying two works cars, with the parent company providing everything.

A customer team would even receive upgrades, albeit two or three races later.

Say, for argument's sake, a parent constructor opts to dispense with a front wing as it has introduced a new-spec, the old version would be handed to the customer.

In terms of cost, the parent would be paid $50million for the two cars, effectively the money handed to a customer team from championship earnings.

Any income over and above that, from drivers or sponsors, would be retained by the customer, ensuring it makes a profit.

The parent, however, would have full control of the car as the customer would hand it back after a race and not see it again until the Wednesday ahead of the next event.

One further regulation is there would only be one customer per parent, so not everyone could choose to sign up to Mercedes for instance.

This is what is currently in the pipeline, with the top four teams in the throes of finalising details to present to their smaller counterparts.

shares
comments
What can F1 do to keep grid numbers up?
Previous article

What can F1 do to keep grid numbers up?

Next article

Russian Grand Prix bosses learn lessons from first F1 race

Russian Grand Prix bosses learn lessons from first F1 race
Why Albon won't be "throwing around laptops" to gain a 2023 F1 edge Plus

Why Albon won't be "throwing around laptops" to gain a 2023 F1 edge

OPINION: At the Williams 2023 Formula 1 season launch, Alex Albon’s easy-going nature was again a point of focus. But does being “too nice” really matter in modern F1? Albon’s own expressions put that in an intriguing new light

How the last Sauber-built Alfa offers F1 2023 evolution clues Plus

How the last Sauber-built Alfa offers F1 2023 evolution clues

Alfa Romeo has become the first Formula 1 team to reveal a new car for 2023, in addition to a fresh livery. This offered a first look at some of the understated changes produced by the revised regulations, along with points of convergence in the second year of the ground effect rules

Formula 1
Feb 7, 2023
The pioneering F1 car that preceded Lotus’s terminal decline Plus

The pioneering F1 car that preceded Lotus’s terminal decline

In the hands of Ayrton Senna the actively suspended 99T would be the last F1 race-winning Lotus but, as STUART CODLING reveals, it was a complicated machine that caused more problems than it solved

Formula 1
Feb 5, 2023
How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1 Plus

How Tyrrell became a racing Rubik’s cube as it faded out of F1

Formula 1’s transformation into a global sport meant the gradual extinction for a small team determined to stay true to its low-budget roots. But Tyrrell would eventually be reborn as a world-beating outfit again, explains MAURICE HAMILTON, albeit in different colours…

Formula 1
Feb 4, 2023
Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver Plus

Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver

Many doubted Lewis Hamilton’s move from McLaren to Mercedes for the 2013 Formula 1 season. But the journey he’s been on since has taken the Briton to new heights - and to a further six world championship titles

Formula 1
Feb 2, 2023
Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era Plus

Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era

OPINION: With teams outside the top three having struggled in Formula 1 in recent seasons, the rules changes introduced in 2022 should have more of an impact this season. How well Haas does, as the poster child for the kind of team that F1 wanted to be able to challenge at the front, is crucial

Formula 1
Feb 2, 2023
The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff Plus

The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff

OPINION: Although the central building blocks for Mercedes’ recent, long-lasting Formula 1 success were installed before he joined the team, Toto Wolff has been instrumental in ensuring it maximised its finally-realised potential after years of underachievement. The 10-year anniversary of Wolff joining Mercedes marks the perfect time to assess his work

Formula 1
Feb 1, 2023
The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate Plus

The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate

Alpine’s signing of Pierre Gasly alongside Esteban Ocon revives memories of a famous all-French line-up, albeit in the red of Ferrari, for BEN EDWARDS. Can the former AlphaTauri man's arrival help the French team on its path back to winning ways in a tribute act to the Prancing Horse's title-winning 1983?

Formula 1
Jan 31, 2023