Mansell: F1 without Ferrari? ‘Absolutely not’

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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

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sunny stivala
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A two class series (two tier) idea has not only been suggested before but had actually been tried to be forced into F1, but everybody knows what the result/outcome was, problems back than were the exact some as those of today, the way the war was conducted and the fighting weapons used were also the same. “MONEY” and who gets how much were what the war was all about back then, the exact same thing as today. WHO GETS MOST “MONEY” GETS MOST OF THE CONTROL.

jakobusvdl
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Yep, I had forgotten that all the way from 1966 teams could run 3.0l n.a, or 1.5l ‘compressor’ engines. It took a long time (until 1977) before the turbo made the ‘compressor’ option competitive, and a couple of years later a turbo was necessary to compete, and smaller teams couldn’t afford those hyper expensive, unreliable hybrids!!!
I’m not sure if the turbo ban from 1989 was due to cost or to limit the speed of the cars. What do you remember Sunny?

sunny stivala
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JAKO, In the old days the FIA engine equivalency formula used for NA and forced induction engines (of 1:0.5 ratio) was correct/fair and just with the know-how/technology/tools/materials and fuels available at the time. When the first “turbocharged” engines appeared the transition was not smoot because not all were ready so various capacity engines according to what one had at his disposal had to be used. The 66-86 turbo era was the first time that made mockery of the FIA equivalency formula of (1:0.5 ratio), and from then on the FIA learned that with the advancement made an equivalency formula would… Read more »

jakobusvdl
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That’s a good point about establishing equivalence between alternative power unit configurations.
Trying to balance out all of the factors that affect the ultimate performance of a car just by specifying capacity, cylinder formation and induction type would never work. So it would be necessary to introduce ‘balance of performance’ methods like we see in GT and sports car racing. And if many fans find the current rules and regulations too complex, ‘BoP’ would blow their minds!

jakobusvdl
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There are lots of directions a reaction to Mansell’s comments could have gone. Predictably, it was a ‘hybrids are too expensive, give us n.a’s’ theme. SubCritical71 got it right, FBC / TBC, one man’s campaign against the hybrid. Ho hum. A couple of thoughts; 1) The difference between the €400m plus that Mercedes, RBR, Ferrari and McLaren are spending, and the €100m to €180m that Force India, Williams etc are spending isn’t all going on their p.u’s, far more of it goes into chassis and aero development. Isn’t it possible that those are also areas where it is worth discussing… Read more »

sunny stivala
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The situation did not change before when the same exact things were said and pushed and it will not change now because what is wanted and what is being said and what is being pushed for, like before, is not genuine and honest, the whole thing is a power struggle which spells money. Jako, What you was talking about is the same situation of today “BETTER ENGINE, BETTER CHASSIS”. Also spot-on saying that what all on the grid can afford to spend, they will spend, if not on engines, the spend will go on aero, if not on aero, the… Read more »

jakobusvdl
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I fear that you’re right Sunny, there is so much money and vested interest in F1 that radical change by choice is very unlikely.
So most likely lots of screaming and posturing for the next couple of years, leading to not much change in 2021.
The general state of the world economy will determine if the grid fills up, or not.

subcritical71
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I don’t necessarily want to get rid of the hybrid PU’s. I simply don’t think they need to be so complex that only 2 manufacturers (one with possible help from the other) can figure it out and be at the sharp end of the grid.

jakobusvdl
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Hi SubC, I didn’t think you wanted to get rid of Hybrids at all, but I did think you correctly called NC out on his relentless position on them.
Apologies if I’ve misrepresented your earlier comment.

peterriva
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for us older geezers, it was a multi-class series rights from the start. Can someone please find the F1 specs for the 50s and 60s? Guess what… on the came grid in 1960: Behra-Porsche-Porsche, RSK, Porsche 547/6 1.5 F4 Cooper-Maserati, T51, Maserati 250S 2.5 L4 Maserati, 250F, Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6 Maserati, 250F, Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6 Maserati, 250F, Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6 Maserati, 250F, Maserati 250F1 2.5 L6 Cooper-Climax, T51, Climax FPF 2.5 L4, Cooper-Climax, T53, Climax FPF 2.5 L4 Lotus-Climax, 18, Climax FPF 2.5 L4 Lotus-Climax, 16, Climax FPF 2.5 L4, Ferrari, 246, Ferrari 155 2.4 V6 Ferrari,… Read more »

ShocksAndAwe
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Really, it’s all very simple. The car companies are destroying F1. Get rid of Ferrari, get rid of Mercedes, and even Renault. Mandate that all manufacturers must partner with a 3rd party engine supplier. Boom.

There are many world-class racing teams that I bet would love to participate at the highest level. ART, Prodrive, 888, DAMS, Campos, Andretti.

Ilmor and Cosworth, I’m sure would be interested as well.

You want 40 cars vying for 26 spots on the grid? Stop pandering to automotive companies and start courting racing teams.