Small F1 teams accuse manufacturers of customer car power grab

Formula 1's independent teams are preparing for a new power battle with the manufacturer outfits they believe are trying to take control via customer car rules

Small F1 teams accuse manufacturers of customer car power grab

Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren and Red Bull have been unwilling to make concessions to assist the small teams, and are strongly applying weight to the introduction of the customer or franchise car concept, potentially from as early as 2017.

ANALYSIS: What next in customer car move?

The independents fear the 'gang of four' intend to drive them out and have customer squads wholly reliant on their works partners - and whose revenues from championship positions could go straight into the coffers of the parent team, further strengthening their financial hand.

Force India's deputy team principal Bob Fernley told AUTOSPORT: "I believe the independent teams have put a very good case together for the last 18 months to try to get some changes in Formula 1 to make it sustainable for all parties to be involved, and stay reasonably competitive.

"The fact there has been absolutely no movement whatsoever from the four manufacturers to support any form of cost control, the fact they have rejected outright some form of redistribution of income, and they're not even interested in reducing powertrain costs, is telling you they've another agenda.

"That agenda, I believe, is about getting total control from a power and financial point of view.

"The customer car element is the final piece of the jigsaw to achieve that.

DIETER RENCKEN: How can F1 maintain grid numbers?

"I said last year in Austin there was an agenda from the big teams to push out the independent teams, and there has been nothing that has changed my opinion on that.

"There has been no action from those teams.

"I do believe it is a clear power move from those teams."

The four works teams conducted a meeting in the Montreal paddock ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Present were McLaren Group CEO Ron Dennis, his team's racing director Eric Boullier, Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff and non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, along with Ferrari and Red Bull team principals Maurizio Arrivabene and Christian Horner.

With FIA race director Charlie Whiting also attending for a portion of the meeting, top of the agenda was a clarification of the customer car system to be presented to the smaller teams at a later date.

Significant was the fact Williams and Force India, independent teams yet part of the Strategy Group, were not present.

Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn also voiced her concerns over the likely power games being played.

"With this system of customer cars, or franchise cars, where is this system going to? What is it all about?" said Kaltenborn, speaking to AUTOSPORT.

"It's basically a way, with the commercial interests behind it, for the teams that want to do it, to tap into more income which they otherwise couldn't have.

"That is not what the other participants are in here for, not what the people want to see out there."

shares
comments
Canadian GP: Lewis Hamilton comfortably beats Nico Rosberg to pole
Previous article

Canadian GP: Lewis Hamilton comfortably beats Nico Rosberg to pole

Next article

Canadian GP: Carlos Sainz Jr expects Toro Rosso's worst race of '15

Canadian GP: Carlos Sainz Jr expects Toro Rosso's worst race of '15
How BRM's one-off F1 double defied its rollercoaster history Plus

How BRM's one-off F1 double defied its rollercoaster history

It’s 60 years since BRM achieved its goal and Graham Hill led the team to a world title double. But that was just part of the remarkable story of a unique team that at times overstretched its resources and had its fair share of disappointments

The bold F1 DRS experiment that could end the debate forever Plus

The bold F1 DRS experiment that could end the debate forever

OPINION: The effectiveness of DRS in Formula 1 remains a topic of debate as the winter break gives a chance for reflection on the racing we saw in 2022. For all of its detractors, perhaps an experiment where DRS is cast aside and the impact this has on racing is in order to truly understand its merits in modern F1

The sliding doors moment that saved Red Bull and Porsche Plus

The sliding doors moment that saved Red Bull and Porsche

OPINION: Everything looked set for Red Bull and Porsche to join forces for the 2026 season, before the marriage between both parties was called off. While at the time it looked like a major coup for Formula 1 in gaining both VW Group powerhouses Audi and Porsche for 2026, Red Bull and Porsche have really been spared a potentially fractious relationship.

Formula 1
Dec 7, 2022
How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive Plus

How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive

Glory days for Tyrrell became increasingly infrequent
 after Jackie Stewart’s retirement. But in the latest instalment of his history of the team for Autosport's sister title GP Racing, 
MAURICE HAMILTON recalls how Ken Tyrrell’s plucky and defiantly small team stayed bold enough to innovate – springing a surprise with F1’s first six-wheeled car

Formula 1
Dec 6, 2022
The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start Plus

The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start

While it launched the F1 career 
of a future world champion, STUART CODLING recalls that the BT60 was also the final nail in the coffin of a once-great marque 30 years ago. Here is its story

Formula 1
Dec 5, 2022
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Plus

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Autosport in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Plus

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022