Are B-Teams a bonus or bane of F1?

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We haven’t spoken much about the concept of B-teams here at The Parc Fermé but I’m curious to get your opinions on the matter.

An interesting point was made by Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul after the Australian Grand Prix in which he said:

“Just look at Toro Rosso, who in my opinion are likely to be the team to beat as far as we’re concerned for the start of the season given where we are,” said Abiteboul of the Red Bull junior outfit.

“Toro Rosso had no technical director for most of last season. It’s very clear what went on. So we don’t even need a technical director to produce what is a very competitive car. For us that’s a problem.”

You’ll recall that I said in our preseason discussion that I was worried about how well Toro Rosso would do given they had lost James Key mid-season in 2018 and what impact that would have on a team losing a technical director of Key’s magnitude and talent.

Coming out of the first race of the season, one would suggest it had little impact and that’s what Abiteboul is frustrated by. Ferrari has Alfa Romeo and at some level, Haas F1, while Honda have Red Bull and Toro Rosso.

Mercedes has Racing Point and Williams as customers but they aren’t quite B-teams in the purest sense and neither is Renault-powered McLaren. Those teams are standalone operations and not merely a B-teams for Mercedes or Renault. Still, I think there is something to be gained from their use of both Mercedes and Renault power units etc.

Australia is just one race and it is a unique circuit in its own right but to Cyril’s point, both Toro Rosso and Alfa Romeo did very well there. Cyril seems to imply that without James Key, Red Bull may have assisted its junior team with chassis design and other componentry from it’s 2018 car to make the smaller team successful in 2019.

The B-team concept is a difficult one and in some sense it is a model that has become valuable for Red Bull and Ferrari to vet their components and harvest critical data as they effectively have four cars running each weekend instead of two. That doesn’t seem to be hurting Mercedes but one could argue that it is impacting Renault.

Are we to a point that the top teams need two teams to have a realistic chance of winning the title? I would say no in the case of Mercedes but then these regulations heavily favor Mercedes so they have a baked-in advantage at some level.

What do you think about the B-team concept?

Hat Tip: Sky Sports F1

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Unfortunately, if you take off the so-called “B” teams, what are you left with? It then basically boils down to Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull (and, to a lesser extent, Williams and McLaren). With that few teams, fans are going to stampede for the exits because then it becomes boring. I remember that NASCAR faced a similar problem: The number of teams owning race cars dwindled down until there was just one team owning every car in sight. At that point, the fans started to go away because there wasn’t a choice. If I’m right, Formula 1 faced a similar… Read more »

The Captain

Well the RB/TR relationship has been a source of controversy since Rb came into the port so that’s nothing new, but Cyril does have a point with this years car.

But the real issue for Renault is the problem of B-teams becoming testing fodder for the A-teams right? RB/Honda can sacrifice TR for a testbed for new concepts that may not be ready for the big team. We’ve yet to see if Ferrari is willing to to this with Alfa but Renault (and Merc) doesn’t even have the option since all it’s customers are… well customers.