So..what does FIA ‘new team’ invitation mean?

A year ago there was a similar selection process and open invitation for a team to join the Formula 1 grid. Through all the haze, Haas F1 emerged and as most assumed, the thought of gridding up for 2015 just wasn’t possible given the compressed time to create a chassis, bolt on a Ferrari engine and transmission and go racing.

Haas F1 opted to hold out another year prior to jumping in to the piranha-infested waters. This year, this week actually, the FIA have once again offered an open invitation to a new team for 2016. Once again, folks are scratching their heads as to how a team could be ready for the start of the 2016 season given there is so little time to do all the things that need to be done—unless you are already a racing operation such as ART Grand Prix of GP2 fame.

There are many who say ART’s McLaren link is a good reason for moving in to F1 and that seems possible given the circumstances but it also makes one wonder if the FIA isn’t being prudent as much of this season’s talk has been the tenuous financial position of teams such as Sauber, Lotus and Force India.

Much of that “talk” has been centered on how to divvy up the prize money in an even-handed way, how to reduce costs and ultimately how to protect these teams from collapse. The FIA’s invitation seems to be looking beyond those issues and simply trying to find potential replacements should one of the small teams bow out such as Manor/Marussia.

F1’s management doesn’t work in a vacuum and surely it knows of potential players and potential departures. Could ART enter the mix as a junior team of McLaren’s such as Toro Rosso to Red Bull or even Sauber to Ferrari? Having four Honda engines running instead of two seems like a bonus as well as a place to develop young McLaren hopefuls.

This also is happening at a time when talk of customer cars is percolating again and I haven’t read too much of where the camps are with regards to that notion but Sauber, Force India and Williams have always been against it. Regardless, Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff, said that he’s had three teams approach him about being a customer team so you do the math(s) and let us know if you have a sense of who is for or against. If McLaren could get a junior team in the series, that might mean they would be less concerned over customer teams than in the past.

Ferrari? According to some, Haas F1 is the new Sauber for Ferrari and so much so that the FIA had to take a trip to Maranello as allegations surfaced that Haas and Ferrari were too cozy even sharing wind tunnel data and design help. For the record, the FIA said everything is fine—surely you knew that was going to be the answer didn’t you?

So Ferrari has their Sauber and Haas F1, Red Bull has their Toro Rosso and Mercedes has everyone else. Seems McLaren might be the logical choice for a new team and that’s why ART is being fingered I suspect.

It does shift the narrative away from helping Force India, Sauber and Lotus out though and that most likely won’t go down well with Bob “tell it like it is” Fenrley and Monisha “Robespierre” Kaltenborn but much of F1 these days rarely does.

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xorpheous

Let me ask the obvious question, “What does an additional team on the grid add to the sport?”

Negative Camber

FOM has a contractual obligation to field a certain number of cars at each race. I was thinking that number is 18 but I can’t recall. As such, I would imagine they are making sure they have enough cars on the grid to keep the contracts in place with each promoter in each country.

xorpheous

Ah, so it’s not really about the sport. As always, it’s about the money. :)

Paul KieferJr

If you look at it from the perspective of a league of sports teams, there are three things it must do: 1. It must bring in money to contribute to the overall operation to pay for the initial expenses that is incurred by the league and the value that such a team brings. 2. It must contribute overall to the growth of the team, the league and the sport overall. 3. It must have a sufficiently large fan base that can financially support the team, the league and the sport overall. If it fails in any one of those requirements,… Read more »

xorpheous

Excellent points, Paul.

JustCoz

Better competition? Races would be boring if there were only 2 or 3 teams out there. Better competition = more interest = more viewers = more sponsors = more money.

xorpheous

So how did having HRT help improve competition?

JustCoz

So you’re argument is that F1 shouldn’t allow any new teams because they might suck?

xorpheous

Not at all. I’m excited about HaasF1 coming to the grid, and new teams coming to the sport can be a positive thing. However, adding a team simply for the purpose of adding a team doesn’t seem like a productive way to increase competition. To be sure, one doesn’t want the grid to shrink to a meager two or three teams, and not everyone can be Mercedes or Ferrari, but the sport can at least not encourage the addition of moving chicanes like Manor.

JustCoz

This announcement isn’t saying that the FIA will definitely allow the best of whatever teams apply to join the grid, no matter how bad they are. It’s saying that the FIA is open to proposals for a new team, so if any company (be it Audi, BMW, or Stefan GP) is interested, they have an opportunity to apply.

Negative Camber

On the Audi and BMW front, they may choose to acquire and existing team so wouldn’t need the invitation. just a possibility unless they wanted to start a completely new operation…which BMW did not do that last time. Nor did Honda. Stefan GP is, however, a complete enigma and I like Zoran GP better. Then we could get those James Bond movie clips of the Zoran blimp circulating.

MIE

The new team could be more like Stewart or Jordan that HRT or Manor.

However it is a very short time, not only to prepare their bid, but to build a car and negotiate a PU contract.

Mike S

So a invitation from castle F1 appears in the village tavern, among the common folk, , etched into the finest of carbon fiber scroll attached to the wall with the finest of aerospace tech fasteners, offering a seat at the 2016 feast o’ champions. A hush spills across the tavern, frothy mugs of Charsley ale pause mid-air as the villagers look nervously among themselves, They know all too well such invitations did not turn out well for others who took up the call…mounted f1 prop nosecones, tartan scarfs and photos of virginal white jets line the walls within. All too… Read more »