- Oct 27, 2014
Bernie Ecclestone has once more called for cheaper customer cars to boost F1's grid numbers days before the 2015 season begins in Australia.
Continuing from his recent proposals for performance-boosted “Super GP2” cars and then 2013-spec Red Bulls to effectively create a second division, Ecclestone has now suggested customer chassis be sold to "smaller" teams at £15 million a pair, with engines apparently being supplied by either Renault or Cosworth.
This is in the wake of Caterham’s collapse, Manor (formerly Marussia) scraping onto the grid with essentially year-old cars and reports of the teams receiving swifter prize money payments this year in order to boost their accounts. Lotus, Force India and Sauber in particular are known to have had financial issues since late last year, Force India only managing to get their new car ready for the last three days of pre-season testing. F1 may infringe on agreements with race promoters should too many teams fall off the grid, hence Ecclestone's enthusiasm for a cheaper solution.
Despite these issues, the F1 teams remain very reluctant regarding customer cars, the prevailing feeling being that teams able to achieve success in much cheaper spec cars would devalue what all the current teams do as constructors, each building their own cars. Speaking with the Mail on Sunday however, Ecclestone was adamant this wouldn’t be the case.
"I can't see that. I'd call these four or five teams that we supplied chassis to the 'Team Championship'. They would all be in the Team Championship but they wouldn't be able to win the Constructors' Championship,” he said. "To all intents and purposes, nobody would ever know. The public would never know. It would not alter the way they see the races. It wouldn't change the spectacle. It would just mean that instead of incurring big losses, these teams would be able to make a profit.”
Ecclestone continued by pinpointing what he thought was the sport’s real problem right now: “There are teams that spend maybe £500m a season and other people that are trying to work with a £120m budget, which is still too much. The regulations don’t hurt the people that can spend but hurt the people who are trying to put a team together.”
“When you consider teams take maybe 120 people to race two cars and spend up to half a billion pounds to be there, it’s not too logical. The Mercedes unit that they take to races and put in the paddock, it takes 24 trucks to carry the parts to assemble it. The FIA believes it keeps the world alive because F1 cars don’t use any fuel. Not true. They use a few per cent less than a normal engine.
“But some teams have 24 trucks to build their motorhomes, which use a lot of fuel. So it is all nonsense. It is all complete hypocrisy, which upsets me. It is complete stupidity. So everyone has got their corner they want to fight for. The FIA want to be green, the teams are split on what they want to do and we want to make sure the championship is successful. We are in the entertainment business.”