Marussia designer Pat Symonds has addressed the recent concerns over the prize money payout as only the top 10 team will receive any compensation for the performance in the series. Symonds, a long-time F1 man, says that things are very difficult at the team and suggests that all but the top four teams are feeling the economic crunch.
“And even in the top four you’ve got Mercedes who, while they haven’t financial concerns, there must be other concerns there – that they don’t go the way of Honda and Toyota.”
Our friend Christian Sylt caught up with Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone this week and shared the news that the commercial agreement between the teams and the owners of the Formula 1 series did not include Marussia as only the top 10 teams have any compensation at year-end. To those ends, Symonds told Sky Sports F1 the teams is concerned about its future:
“Everyone’s worried,” he added. “But the difference between the haves and the have-nots is just immense – and it’s not getting any better. Under the last Concorde (Agreement) the new teams including Marussia did get some payout from FOM; it wasn’t a lot of money but it was a significant part of our budget, because our budget was so small. And when you take away things like that, it really hurts.
“I really like the people here. They’re racers – (Team Principal) John (Booth) and (President) Graeme (Lowdon) particularly, they’re in the Frank Williams mould. They’re not going to let this team go.
“So we will survive and the great thing about us is that we’re small, so if things get tough one day we can pull our horns in a little bit. And if we get more money we’ll use it wisely, because we’re used to not having much money.”
One side of the coin is that you have to pay to play in F1 and it has never been an inexpensive sport. Only the top organizations enter the premier racing series with enough cash to be successful. Honda, Toyota and BMW all left the series when the global economic crisis started after spending hundreds of millions of dollars reaching mediocrity. The notion of a $100m team in F1 is nearly unrealistic if they have any intentions of being at the sharp end of the grid or winning races.
The other side of the coin is the resilience of budgets and engineering prowess. If a team can survive in the economic climate and pressures of F1, then it is a testament to their vigilance and ability to do amazing things with so little. In the most recent grand prix of Bahrain, Marussia were only 4 seconds off the pace of the front runners and while that is the difference between first and last in F1, it is incredibly close given that teams such as Red Bull and Mercedes spend approximately $100m or more on their racing program.
Is there room for small teams in Formula One? Can these teams continue with paying drivers, prize money stipends and meager sponsorship? If so, should they be in F1 or should they focus on GP2 or GP3 feeder series for their racing ya ya’s?
This rebuttal comes on the wake of Williams F1’s news today that the team has recorded a £5.0m loss for 2012 even thought they finished in 8th place in the F1 world constructor’s championship and received £9.4m for their efforts.