Too much of a good thing?

5

As Formula 1 roils in turmoil over control and direction of the sport, you have a mandate for Formula One Management boss, Bernie Ecclestone, and FIA president, Jean Todt, to make changes to the sport to safeguard its future. You have manufacturers like Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault who have spent millions developing a V6 turbo hybrid power unit with serious concerns that their huge investments could be scuttled due to a single regulation change.

The concerns are really centered on control of the sport with the manufacturers versus the commercial rights holder and regulatory body. A battle waged on three fronts with two of the three in cahoots. Interesting then to hear that Alfa Romeo could be a marque interested in returning to F1 and this is on the heels of rumored discussion that Force India is having with Aston Martin (which I think would be the cheapest entry to F1 in recent years) and even some still banging pots and pans about VW and its myriad luxury brand such as Porsche or Audi entering the series.

Manufacturers bring lots of resources to the sport and most are happy to see them enter but could this be stacking the deck? The fact is when F1 gets too reliant on the power of the manufacturer, it does dilute the mid-sized and small teams in their ability to score points and get a seat at the grownup’s table.

Would it be great to see Porsche, Mercedes, Aston Martin, Renault, Honda, Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo battle it out in F1? Sure it would. Would it be the best for F1? In the short term, yes but what about the prickly behavior of the teams to continually dip in and out of F1 like Dippy the Drinking Bird? When they leave, the sport feels serious stress as they leave a vacuous space where resources once existed.

Formula 1 survives such Dippy-like behavior but given the current state of things, I’m not sure how well it would do if Mercedes and Ferrari left. When BMW, Toyota and Honda all left in 2009, I recall suggesting that is was a massive blow and one that may not be tenable in the future if the series becomes too manufacturer reliant. I could be completely wrong but it does seem that F1 has its work cut out for it facing Merc and Ferrari right now. Imagine trying to make sweeping changes with 5, 6 or 7 manufacturers in the sport.

I doubt F1 will see that level of participation but Ferrari’s Sergio Marchionne says he’s been lobbying VW and American car companies to jump in, the water’s fine.

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Tom Firth

Yeah, if you look at history, in motorsport and you look at the eras that most inspired and built the most following, not just in F1 but in the wider Sport, and the vast majority of them, that period would be when a number of manufacturers are directly competing, and then you look at the flipside and take a look at the moments those series looked like where flatlining, and is often the immediate years after a mass manufacturer pullout. I don’t think it’s such a need to not try and attract manufacturers because it’s always positive in many areas… Read more »

Tom Firth

Is no greater example of when a mass manufacturer pullout nearly destroys a series than BTCC and the collapse of supertouring.

the Late Idi Armin

Bernard manages the balance pretty well but will be interesting to see what happens well the old ticker stops

the Late Idi Armin
João Jorge

Major difference this time as, with Alfa Romeu (Ferrrari/Fiat) and Aston Martin (Mercedes), it seems the strategy is in using the same technological and logistical base and do some sort of “franchising”. I like it, and would enjoy having a Renault and Nissan teams; Audi/VW and Seat/Skoda teams in some sort of Senior/junior team with independent teams and chassis. Brands add to the general publics awareness due to stronger marketing by the Manufacturers. Problem is that what happens when you don’t win (and that will happen to most teams)? If teams are prepared for that scenario and adjust their budgets… Read more »