In a slightly interesting twist, Formula 1 teams are now taking aim at the newly minted F1 Strategy group and labeling it a feckless entity with little or no achievement to show.
The F1 Strategy group comprises of six teams—Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Williams and Force India—as well as the FIA and Formula One Management. The latter two entities hold six votes each with the teams representing a single vote each.
The group met last week and decided that several changes should be looked at for the 2017 season including refueling, bigger tires, different engine parameters and more. Amongst them was also a possible notion of the return of customer cars.
As we suggested in our story, not all teams are for customer cars including teams that the entire issue would be meant to help such as Force India or Sauber. Both these teams are not interested in customer cars with Sauber’s Monisha Kaltenborn saying:
“If it is meant to improve the show – and with people out there criticising we have cars slower than GP2 right now – how will this A/B system work?
“It won’t make the show more attractive if we have cars further apart, and we are complaining already this is happening.
“Looking at it from a commercial point of view, find me a person who will sponsor this.
“Will you have A/B-grade sponsors? Will they have different rights?
“Force India [Bob Fernley] put it very nicely – you will have people who will compete and people who will participate.
“The worst part is, if at some point in time you realise it is not going to work you cannot switch back because you have lost the capability of being a constructor.
“And what if a big team, a manufacturer decides to leave, as was the case a few years ago. What is left?
“It’s such a dangerous step to take in view of what can happen.”
With that elephant in the room, you can start to see where customer cars is not an idea that is making ground with the small teams and even though Sir Frank Williams got his start in F1 via a customer car model, he’s never been keen on it returning to F1.
Now we are left with several teams grousing about the ineffective nature of the F1 strategy Group and these aren’t teams seated at the kiddie table either. These are teams who have places on the Strategy Group such as Red Bull and Force India.
One of the most vocal critics has been Force India’s Bob Fernley who said:
“We have had 18 months to two years of Strategy Group work with nothing coming out of it.
“We need to look at a system in better way. In days gone by, with Bernie and [former FIA president] Max [Mosley] in charge, we knew exactly where we were.”
This is a notion that Mr. Ecclestone himself has advocated for a long time and even landed in some hot water by evoking Hitler as an example of how dictators get things done. His point, contextually in bad taste, was that F1 needs a benevolent dictator who makes decisions and gets things done regardless if the teams will all have their agendas met with the new changes or not.
Red Bull’s Christian Horner agrees with Fernley regarding the efficacy of the F1 Strategy Group:
“Yes we want the cars to be quicker and more aggressive to drive but you are never going to keep everyone happy.
“Bernie and Jean need to get together and say this is what we want the product to be and how it is to be governed and then give us the engine and see if we want to enter.
“If you leave it the teams to try and agree a set of regulations, you’ll never get everyone on the same bit of paper.”
Red Bull’s junior team is not lost for a vocal team boss either with Franz Tost chiming in on the situation:
“We are discussing too many things. We have too many useless meetings.
“It should be Bernie and Jean together who decide. They should not ask the teams because the teams will not come to an agreement.”
If you are starting to get the idea that there are a lot of stakeholders in the equation, then you’re right on the money. Lots of dollars and investments are represented here and no one is more poised to lose their current domination than Mercedes should change come to F1 via edicts from the FIA and FOM without team buy-in and possible coercion or guidance regarding the next set of regulations.
It’s worth keeping in mind that the current regulations were set to change in 2020 so teams may have their budgets and capitalization models with depreciation based on that termination date and an early retirement of the regulations will cost money.
Regardless, the fact is something has to change and Mr. Ecclestone’s comment of joining voting ranks with the FIA’s Jean Todt is something he’s prepared to do. Change is coming but who will come along with the change?
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT