I was reading Editor-in-chief Eddie Alterman’s nice piece in the recent issue of Car & Driver magazine and it was focused on passion. Actually it was discussing Sergio Marchionne’s “dispassionate” look at the auto industry and how he felt it was broken, ripe with galactic inefficiencies and redundancy—those are my words not Sergio or Eddie’s.
It is a nice piece he wrote and turns Sergio’s logic a bit arguing that the car industry is driven by passion and perhaps it is difficult to understand it if you are attempting a dispassionate view. I enjoyed it, Eddie, but it made me wonder if a guy who so circumspect of the auto industry of which he toils, what must he think of the Formula 1 world?
I’m no auto industry insider by any stretch of the imagination but Sergio has a few points about thin margins, redundancy in parts and technologies in the industry. I would imagine that same brain would find the challenges similar in F1 where every team is practically re-creating the wheel…or at least the wheel nut.
Ferrari have a nice relationship with Gene Haas who escaped the draconian requirements that Manor, HRT and Caterham faced when entering the sport. He enjoys a chassis made by other, an engine made by others, a gearbox made by others, an ECU made by others, wheel made by others, tires made by others, electronics made by others—you get the point. In fact, I’m straining to imagine what it is exactly he and his team are constructing.
Maybe this is a kind of relationship that makes sense to Sergio and most likely played into their agreeing to the deal? Fiat is looking for a merger because who needs another car like a Cruz, Impala, Fusion et. al. in the market place? Surely this merging could combine to strengthen the industry and bring new innovative technologies instead of me-too offerings?
As Eddie points out, that may be what’s best for Fiat Chrysler but is it for GM, Ford and Toyota? Would a similar combining of efforts make sense for Haas F1, Force India and Sauber? Perhaps but maybe the odd question is, would it be better for Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren? I’m not so sure but then Sergio would know better than I.
Former FIA president, Max Mosely, was a very strong proponent of standardized parts in F1 such as wheel nuts etc. He felt this is an area where fans couldn’t really care less if they were all bought by some random supplier like…say…I dunno…Bernieco in the UK? The ECU is already a McLaren creation right?
So how much of F1 could be spec given the amount that already is and what do you think about Haas F1’s approach to the series? It has Graeme Lowdon talking lately about the ease at which he’s glided to a soft landing in F1 compared to Manor, Caterham and HRT.
Like Eddie said in his letter, F1 is equally driven by passion but I suspect unlike Eddie’s letter, I would add that both the auto industry and F1 are more likely driven by the dollar than anything else and if a Fiat merger or spec F1 made more of it, then that’s what we’d all be doing, right?