Todt: No third-car; what financial crisis?

It all adds up doesn’t it? The ever-increasing cost of Formula 1 has imposed the sport’s most expensive engine ever which has doubled the cost of the power unit supply placing Marussia and Caterham in administration and most likely out of the sport.

This will leave 18 cars on the grid—if no other teams bow out over the winter season—in which to race with at the Australian Grand Prix in 2015. This has prompted talk of the FIA mandating that top teams must run a third car in order to fill out the grid.

According to an interview, FIA president Jean Todt says he’ll take no action mandating a third car and that the series is just fine with 18 car or nine teams.

“We can race with nine teams – it is not a disaster,” said Todt, when asked in a recent interview what the FIA would do if there were only nine teams.

“I remember in MotoGP there were 16 motorbikes and it was still a good race.

“It is clear – the action is more at the front than at the back.”

What Todt does say is that he isn’t happy about the Marussia and Caterham situation but the series is not in any financial crisis:

“It is part of F1 history,” he said. “You have teams who have been historically there, teams supported by benefactors who came in and came out, and small teams that are part of F1.

“I am not happy to have Marussia and Caterham have problems. I sympathise for them, but it has always happened.

“In 2016, we have a team coming. So, in the worst case, we will face nine teams and in 2016, ten teams.

“We may make a tender again to have one or more teams.

“We want to encourage teams and sponsors, so that is why we must try to reduce costs.”

Cutting costs seems to be the logical move even for Haas as well as any new team that might be interested. The FIA hasn’t come up with a plan yet on how it will do that but they did just release a 21-race calendar for 2015 and adding a race or two to the season isn’t saving anyone any money—in fact, it costs more to participate by attending two additional races during the season.

When you juxtapose the words and action of former FIA president Max Mosley with Jean Todt’s, you see decisions made and regulations instituted in an attempt to cut costs. We can argue about how effective they Mosley’s were as all the new teams he brought in have now disappeared. However, if you consider the words and actions of, Todt, he seems very keen to cut costs but so far has made decisions that have ramped costs up in F1 so it is difficult to understand where he feels gains can be made to help the small teams remain in F1 beyond suggesting that the commercial rights holders simply give them more money from their winnings.

It is not a criticism of Todt so much as an admission that it is not an enviable position to have at the moment. If cutting costs were easy, it would have been done by now. There are many political sides to this coin and self-interests from each team as well as each organization and stakeholders.

In many ways I feel Todt is heading an organization during, what may prove to be, the most difficult time in F1’s history.


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