Has Sergio taken a ‘dispassionate’ look at F1 yet?

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?

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Warham Pendrich

Haas F1 spent a good two years of preparation to come in to F1. He outsourced what was allowable and bought what was allowable. The chassis is being built “at” Dallara and not “by” Dallara in that he has hired people to work within the Dallara facility. The other thing is that Haas is well bankrolled and has had proven success in NASCAR. I’m sure he understands that the steering must turn right and left.

Dave Domenicano

Writing an article based on some other guy’s article…. zzzzzz

Negative Camber

Zing! Because you know, we’re not about opinion around here. :) Of course I wrote it about Eddie’s comments. They had me thinking and that usually gets an “editorial” category label on posts like this, which this one has BTW. :) We always credit our sources be they included in our posts or even if they make us think but aren’t quoted. The press get looted enough by other websites without attribution and we aim to make sure that doesn’t happen here. Those folks work hard for their trade. Beside it being about another guys article on Sergio, the question… Read more »

Mike Martin

Can’t agree more…the fact your article related to another makes it no less thought provoking or enjoyable to read. One thing I do find humorous is the comments from those that were making fun of the “NASCAR” approach to F1 last year now sound like “Haas is bending the rules”. Actually, he’s taken a brilliant approach all due to regulation changes but nothing more. Why should they build a car from the ground up when they don’t have to? I can’t wait until next year: if Haas come out of the box quick, the howls will be long and loud… Read more »

Paul KieferJr

The mainstream auto industry does it all the time. Parts come from Germany, UK, Japan, Italy, etc., and they all get built here in the USA. Surely the logical extension has to be in auto racing.

peter riva

Perfect appraisal: “In fact, I’m straining to imagine what it is exactly he and his team are constructing.” Yup, slap a decal on the thing and pretend that NASCAR, oops, F1 unique brand, is different. Sort of makes sense that he’s hires Grosjean then… why not go for the journeyman instead of something new? it’s all about the sponsorship, keep the technology simple.
Wait there’s a slogan for this, not the KISS principle, but the HISS principle straight out of Indy and NASCAR.


I see no problem with commercially-“spec” (third-party suppliers for particular parts) so long as FIA makes no further dunderheaded rules that are fully-spec in that a supplier and a component are specifically required by the FIA formula. And BTW, “formula” is not “spec,” nor should it be. The twain shall never meet. To mandate specific components or systems (i.e., to create the spec) would literally mean the death of Formula 1. Although as usual I have to add that the insane costs and complexity of Formula H(ybrid) – not to mention its “dispassionate” approach to alleged efficiency – may soon… Read more »


I eagerly await Haas’ entry next year. Gunther Steiner gets me hopped up to start seeing Downfall clips about Haas.