If pressed, most fans would say they want a full grid of two-car teams competing in Formula 1. However, the current financial pressure on small teams has seen the demise of Marussia and now, most likely, Caterham. If buyers can be found for either team, some say they might be salvageable for 2015. That’s a big “if”.

Small teams such as Force India, Suaber and Caterham have all lodged complaints about the prize money distribution rate which is rumored to be 4.5 to 1 in favor of the top team to the tenth team. Force India intimated drastic steps in Austin that the press interpreted as a potential boycott and Force India were not quick to dispel that notion either.

With pressures mounting and the small teams suggesting they can’t survive, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said he would speak with CVC’s Donald McKenzie about the situation but has now told the press that financial help will not be coming from the commercial rights holders:

“I tell you the way forward: it is very easy. Don’t spend as much,” he said.

“We are giving these teams collectively $900 million and that’s enough.

“To survive in the way they have been surviving, start running the business like a business rather than a hobby.”

“I am speaking to Donald about something completely different,” he said. “It is not their [the small teams’] position to decide.”

While the teams are advocating cutting the pie into different sizes, the big teams aren’t to keen on the idea and neither, it seems, is CVC. This has prompted discussion about the big teams running three cars in 2015 but Ecclestone says there is currently no plan to do so:

“No,” he said. “At the moment there has been no agreement for a third car.”

He does add an additional thought, however, to the discussion and one in which we discussed last week—a new class within the current F1 championship:

“There may be an idea we could run a constructors’ championship alongside a team championship,” he said.

“In the team championship they run the same cars and same engines, which is really going back to the old days when we had a DFV engine and a Hewland gearbox and we just made the chassis.”

Ecclestone’s idea has been done before and many teams bought March chassis’s in which to compete…this is effectively called Customer Cars. The March company was once owned by former FIA president Max Mosley who, as fate would have it, was the man responsible from bringing Marussia, Caterhama nd HRT to the series under the premise they would race in a new, less expensive F1. Then the FIA radically changed the engine regulations and priced the small teams out of the sport.

What Max advocated was a small team set of rules and regulations that would allow for unlimited engine revs, different chassis underbody, and different technical regulations that would allow them to compete with top teams with far less money.

The question is, could the solution moving forward be a new class and championship called, say, the Privateer Class in which teams deposit $100 million in an account held by the FIA in which to draw from in order to operate? Would this solve the issue and yet keep the cars competitive?

Could the Privateer Class run V8’s or a different engine and aero package and perhaps even tires and stay in touch with the top teams who are intent on using F1 to build green cars?

Interestingly some teams had to borrow technology from their road car divisions in order to use in F1 and not the other way around so the entire notion is really a bit of a damp squib in some case while in others, it has been very innovative but perhaps a death knell for small teams.

What do you reckon? If the FIA divided prize money evenly, that would see an additional $30 million to the small teams and that’s about what their new power unit costs as a customer so the point, in my mind, is moot on the equity of the prize money.

Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT

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Rick T
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Rick T

To be really honest the only thing I see preventing the eventual demise of f1 is a salary cap.
F3 in many euro countries failed due to unlimited spending, and eventually money will run out for f1.
My opinion at least

cassracing
Guest

I like the idea of a Privateer class running 18k rpm V8s and mechanical gearboxes (maybe even H-patern manuals?, oh one can dream!). I do think though that the big teams may kill the idea, because I believe the fans would gravitate more towards this new class because, well, it would be cooler than the hybrids!!! There is something to be said for this actually: at LeMans in previous years you would see the spectators sit in their seats doing nothing as the quiet diesel prototypes came by in all of the top places…..then the crowd would ERUPT when the… Read more »

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Mike

I could see it working..at least from a fan’s perspective. The Porsche & Ferrari Challenge races at Austin were interesting, I was watching fan reactions around me and even though there were a couple of different levels on the track, the cluster of battles at different levels were drawing interest, rather than a single class racing against each other but invariably spread out in time across a lap.

Rapierman
Member
Rapierman

If a new privateer class were to be created, then it would have to be a separate “formula”, per se (i.e., F0 for big teams vs. F1 for smaller teams, or F1 vs. F1.5, depending on your point of view. Then you would truly have a separate class with a separate championship, both for constructors/privateers and drivers in those teams, but still run on the same track (sounds like World Endurance / Le Mans).

Tim
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Tim

A separate class is not what F1 is all about. It may be interresting for a while, but I think the newness would ware off rather quickly. Plus, we already have endurance racing that provides us this type of formula. The major problem is CVC and until they are gone nothing will really change. They are going to bleed off as much money out of F1 as possible. When it no longer serves CVC’s purpose, they will get rid of F1. Unfortunately, there may not be much left to pick up. And, then there’s Bernie. I would have thought that… Read more »

Rapierman
Member
Rapierman

It already ended that part a long time ago. If you have a better solution, I’m willing to hear it. Other than entertaining the idea of crowd-sourcing the takeover of F1, I see no alternative at this point, so let’s just do something already. I’d like to get this done before I die of old age, and that is closing in on me at the moment.

Adam Vella
Guest

might as well open up F1 to GP2……

jiji the cat
Member
jiji the cat

why not have 2 classes? we have had it before with the turbo’s and the normally aspirated, 2 different trophies in the 80’s. At least we would have a full grid and also encourage a fanbase to follow the smaller budget teams. win win i say.

Rick T
Guest
Rick T

If we are thinking about a second class, then why not cap spending and create and promotion and relegation system, where f3,2 are all together.
It works in all sorts of competitions, and would recreate the driver pyramid.

John The Race Fan (@JohnTheRaceFan)
Guest

Curious question, NC (or ayone more knowledgeable than I)… Has Formula One ever raced alongside other, presumably lesser, classes of cars in a multi-class setting? I’m wondering if there’s any historical precedent for an idea such as this. From a racing standpoint, I don’t think it’s a bad idea. I like multi-class racing, as there’s always on-track excitement because of the delta between the two classes of car. But with open-wheel Formula-style cars, it suddenly becomes very, very tricky. Sports cars have headlights to flash in someone’s mirror to let them know a faster car is bearing down on them.… Read more »

MIE
Editor

In 1952 the World Driver’s Championship was held for Formula 2 cars as there weren’t enough F1 cars to make a viable series. During the late 1950s and early 1960s Porsche entered a few race each year with their 1.5 litre sports cars (550, RSK and 718) racing alongside the. 2.5 litre F1 machines. Even when the rules changed to limit F1 to the smaller engines, Porsche still entered some sports cars alongside their single seaters. When the engine size increased in1966 to three litres there was a shortage of suitable engines, so a number of teams raced with smaller… Read more »

MIE
Editor

Also in ’66, ’67 & ’69 F1 & F2 raced together at the German Grand Prix.

Tom Firth
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Tom Firth

not too relevant, but in 1985 some lightly modified Tyrrell’s and Williams raced in the new Formula 3000 series against cars purposely built for F3000 competition, F1 and Indycar also had the race of two worlds in 1957 and 1958 , but nothing in recent times that is a direct comparison.

You had BOSS Grand Prix for a while until recently which had cars from many different single-seater championships including F1, Indycar and F3000 but it never attracted the kind of drivers that drove F1 cars in those era’s.

Rapierman
Member
Rapierman

There was a period of time in NASCAR when a racing company actually ran about ninety percent of the grid of 43. At that point, fans started walking away. Lesson: Variety is the spice of life. You have to keep the variety to keep the fans coming back. NASCAR started limiting teams to four cars at that point, and things got a lot better because there was such a variety to choose from. Formula 1 must also learn this lesson, though I fear it would be a hard one to learn.

Sam L.
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Sam L.

I’m wondering if Bernie is channellmg the old King Louis wot said, “Apres moi, le deluge”. Or to do a Samson, and pull down the temple and take the lot of them with him.

Member

It all sounds plausible on paper and in our minds. But as soon as a “privateer” team beats a well-funded top team on track, the race is really over for the series and concept.

Andreas
Guest
Andreas

Three-car teams is nothing new to F1 – they’ve been around before. However, this time I do believe they’ll be the downfall of Formula 1, even though they clearly weren’t the last time around. What’s changed? For one, back then there were not only big factory teams with more than two cars, but also a host of privateers and single car teams (Hesketh, anyone?). Some of the privateers ran their own cars, while others bought racing cars (or parts thereof) to compete with. This time, though, running three-car teams while also pricing the small plucky teams out of the sport… Read more »

Boo-Yaka
Guest
Boo-Yaka

Sigh! We are talking about organizations that operate in a VERY competitive market that (exponentially?) rewards success. The FIA has been trying to curb spending for years. If they have managed to limit spending on continuous testing & engine development, the money will just be spent somewhere else (driver salaries, corporate espionage, etc.). A split into two classes will work only if each class is clearly defined, managed and targeted to specific markets. F-Zero – “All singing, all dancing” innovative, green technology that engages car manufacturers & automotive tech companies that will use this as an extended R&D program. Simple… Read more »

@_canuck_
Guest
@_canuck_

I say keep it the same, f1 cars running into the back of slower cars on restarts and tight circuits is not ideal, races would be full of cautions. 3 car teams means 2 blockers for one #1 driver. Maybe F1/cvc will dish out more money to the smaller teams when more teams fail we will see.