Williams F1 CEO Adam Parr has told Autosport that they are still reticent about having 14 teams on the grid for 2010. At first blush, many have argued that it is Sauber/BMW and they should be on the grid but there are nuances to the issue and Parr explains why:
“Frank has been crystal clear on this,” said Parr. “He feels very strongly about it, but he’s not the only one. At the last FOTA meeting it was not the only team that raised concerns, and it was not the only team that voted against 14 teams.”
“First of all, nobody has done any work that I can see to show that there is space to accommodate 14 teams, 28 cars,” he said. “No one has discussed that, neither the FIA nor anyone else. Look at where we are now in Brazil. You couldn’t possible get 28 cars and 14 teams here.
“And I’m sure that’s true in Monaco and several other circuits. So once they’ve done that work, and the FIA has never suggested that 14 teams can be accommodated.
“I don’t think it can be accommodated on the revenue side either, it’s just not sustainable, and the FIA presumably believe that because they fought very hard this year to reduce the cost dramatically.”
The Williams CEO also reckons adding a 14th team doesn’t make sense from an sporting point of view, because a team would not be racing in all grands prix.
“No, because then people will start saying we need to pre-qualify, which is completely ludicrous. The idea, in this day and age, to have a team flying all the way to Melbourne or somewhere at massive expense, only to tell their sponsors that they are not going to appear on the grid. It’s just ridiculous.”
Autosport does a great job of tying the story together with quotes from Ferrari and Red Bull. The general consensus is that 14 teams mat press the limit of what can be accommodated from an infrastructure standpoint. The logistics are difficult but it seems that some teams are willing to make the concession on behalf of Sauber and no other. the intent is to save Sauber and the employees by making sacrifices to get them on the grid. This is the position of Ferrari but even their noses wrinkle as they are still seeking a 3-car scenario in F1 and Sauber’s presence would make that notion almost unthinkable.
Red Bull’s Christian Horner also admits a desire to helping his friends at Sauber but does recognize the infrastructure strain and reality of adding 28 cars to the field.
I am unclear on what the reality of Lotus, Manor, USF1 or Campos actually making it to the grid in 2010 is but I suggest that the FIA have once again make a cock up of the whole situation. I am BMW’s refusal to sign the Concorde Agreement (which effectively kept them out of the 2010 season) was explained and the FIA could have placed a deadline the BMW needed to return to the table with either a signed agreement or proof the team was being sold. But as is de rigueur these days for Max Mosley, FIA president, slamming manufacturers seems to be the sport of the day.
I personally think the Hinwill-based team deserves a spot on the grid as long as the FIA and FOM can ferret out the ownership structure and feel convinced they are here to stay. There are too many good people at that team to just mothball the project. But what do you think? Is 28 cars too many? Do they deserve what they get for not playing ball with the FIA? Is Sir Frank right in denying their entrance or is this just a personal vendetta left over from the Williams BMW days?