Formula 1 has a lot of issues to work out and chief among them are the technical and sporting regulations for 2020 and beyond. They’ll spend a good portion of the 2018 season gnashing teeth, ripping robes and chest pounding in order to arrive at a set of regulations that manufacturers, teams, sponsors, promoters and circuit owners can live with. Not in that order and not all at the same time, mind you, but they will have to work these all out eventually.
The first step out of the box was met with a threat to quit F1 by its oldest participant, Ferrari. Many discount this as idle threats but there are those-and I am one of them-who believe this time, and with a new CEO, Ferrari may not be joking.
Former F1 driver Nigel Mansell believes this is a huge issue. Losing Ferrari or any manufacturer is simply something F1 can’t afford right now:
“Absolutely not. Formula 1 will have great challenges ahead if they let any manufacturer walk away.
“We only have 20 cars on the grid now. In the heyday there were 43 Formula 1 cars trying to qualify for 26 places. The fans worldwide are crying out to have 26 cars now. We need new drivers, new blood, new manufacturers to start competing on a level playing field.”
It’s a good point when you think about the number of cars on a grid and the number of available drivers/opportunities that could be had if F1 had a more robust series with regulations that allowed for more manufacturers and privateers to enter.
“We’ve got a backlog of great drivers wanting to come into Formula 1 and we need more manufacturers with at least 26 cars on the grid,” added Mansell.
“Hopefully Liberty are going to get some new regulations that everyone will embrace and there will be a more level playing field where people can be competitive.
“There is something wrong with any sport when you have, as a good or bad example, an incredible team like McLaren who have won so many world championships and an incredible manufacturer of engines like Honda, they couldn’t get it together. It shouldn’t be that difficult.”
This is why I advocate ditching the hybrid engine due to its cost and complexity. It is also why-if F1 and manufacturers are so desperate for a hybrid or electric power unit-we look at evolving the series into a multi-class series that would allow for a BoP and privateer class that can compete with the massive hybrid manufacturers.
So you have Mercedes spending $350 million on a hybrid and dominating the series that only has 20 cars. If they truly believe ICE V8’s or 10’s are dinosaurs and dead to the world, then what threat could they possibly pose to such a superior hybrid technology, right? What if there were six more cars running V8 ICE power and on a lower budget with a listed parts program like Haas and able to compete for a podium? What do you suppose would happen then?
Top teams wouldn’t go for it because they know a small team with small budget could run with them using a 850bhp V8 engine, lots of downforce and grippy tires. I believe that’s a fact and I say if the series can’t get away from the massive footprint manufacturers currently have on the direction of the sport, then a privateer class would make sense.
Let the manufacturers spend $350 million but with an option as a privateer, you will ensure that the manufacturers don’t simply beat their smaller competition through accounts payable invoices doubling in price for their engine supply contracts. Mercedes has beaten Force India already in 2018 as the latter hasn’t the budget to pay for Merc engines and create a race-winning chassis.
There is also the reliability factor of these complex hybrids which is part of a strategy for Mercedes and Ferrari. They know Honda and Renault have some issues over reliability and that, in itself, nearly eliminates them as a competitor.
I’m just spit-balling here but in the end, F1 does need to come up with a new structure and just because it hasn’t been a two-class series before doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work in the future. Ultimately I would rather not have two classes but I am finding it difficult to see how the cost-cap would work for a team the size of Mercedes.
Hat Tip: Sky Sports