Why a three-car F1 team is illogical
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Why a three-car F1 team is illogical

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The Formula 1 rumour mill was in full swing after the Italian Grand Prix, with the three-car teams idea being discussed again. However, the concept faces many hurdles, as DIETER RENCKEN explains

That the concept of eight three-car teams - delivering grids of 24 cars - should again rear its head, after being exclusively revealed here almost a year ago, is no surprise. Since then various familiar arguments over customer cars and 'listed' parts (components to which teams need to own the intellectual property) have raged, all to no real avail.

Indeed, it is said that the issue of removing chassis (monocoque) from Appendix 6 of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations was again raised during a Strategy Group meeting at Monza by Bernie Ecclestone, with the majority immediately rejecting the suggestion. Why is the removal (or not) of a single word relating to a single component listed in the (note) sporting regulations so utterly crucial to F1's future?

Simply as the removal of chassis from Appendix 6 would mean that teams could purchase proprietary chassis - the structural heart of a car - thus leaving the way clear for full customer cars, a concept which goes totally against the DNA of F1.

As Ferrari Sporting Director Marco Mattiacci pointed out Sunday, an integral part of the F1 world championship is the constructors' championship, and, by extension, that requires teams to construct their own cars.

However, Ecclestone is keen to see a full customer-car concept - one allegedly pursued by CVC Capital Partners co-chairman and -founder Donald Mackenzie, seen visiting teams on Sunday - simply as the costs of going F1 racing would be reduced for major teams, by off-setting direct costs over double the production, and for secondary teams, who would not need to develop and manufacture in-house designs.

CVC is, of course, the majority owner of Formula One Management, the commercial rights holder of the championship, and as such Mackenzie is Ecclestone's de facto boss. CVC is keen to contain costs to enable them to reduce payments to teams, thus increasing CVC's take from the sport.

However, there are long-term commercial and sporting risks in the concept, likely leading to F1 alienating its fans in the longer term. But does CVC care about the long-term health of F1? Unlikely; the company has already cashed half its shares, seems intent on listing the remainder, and has taken a massive upfront loan to pay further dividends.

An equally unsavoury aspect of CVC's custodianship of F1 is the inequitable revenue structure introduced under its watch. Last year, for example, Lotus won a race and finished fourth (with 315 points) in the championship - ahead of McLaren (122) - yet will receive $30m less for the year.

Any wonder Lotus needed to trim its manpower levels by 30 per cent despite winning the opener and fielding the only car able to take the fight to Red Bull towards the end? And, this is far from the only example of the squeeze being put on the marginalised teams.

However, no sooner had the flag dropped on Sunday's Italian Grand Prix than a former team principal, one better known for his comic-book than actual on-track achievement, tweeted the following: "This is the last year of F1 as we know, in '15 eight teams will contest the championship, with several teams entering three cars." [sic]

True, Adam Parr, once chairman of Williams and architect of a number of since-dismantled projects, has his own issues with certain paddock folk, but what chance his prediction coming to pass next year?

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Series Formula 1
Author Dieter Rencken