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Monday, November 7, 2011

Third Cars discussed by F1 Commission

I think this is a very interesting little tidbit to come out of the Autosport story which talks about the F1 Commission meeting in Geneva to address questions which related to the collaboration between teams and the upcoming name changes at Lotus (Caterham), Renault (Lotus), and Virgin (Marussia).

Stuck down in the middle of the story they refered to third cars on the grid and give the following quote from Ross Brawn:

"It sounds simple – make a third car and sell it to another team, but if that team can run a season with a very competitive car for a lot less cost than a manufacturer, you are going to start losing manufacturers because it doesn't make sense for teams to make their own car. And we don't want that.
"In F1 it is important we have the constructors and different manufacturers involved. It has been one of the most distinctive things about F1 for many years. I think we need to explore these ideas, but I would be very cautious about the concept of selling cars.
"If the most competitive car is sold to a number of teams and they flood the grid with that car then it is damaging for the rest of the teams. We need to be very, very careful about the solutions we find in the future".

Obviously a serious business and a good point well made but then it struck me that in the past history of F1 a number of privateer teams appeared on the grid racing a manufacturer's chassis, on the basis that they couldn't construct their own.  These teams normally only raced one car, one driver and were run on a shoestring budget.  Often the teams only raced in a couple of GP's in the season, in their own country and maybe in one other nearby, or at a particular event of note.

Ecurie Ecosse which ran in the 50's is a good example. It only ever competed at the British GP.  The team is of note for the fact that Jackie Stewart's brother Jimmy raced for them in a Cooper T20 in one World Championship F1 event in 1953.   Jackie raced with them in lower formulas and events before joining up with Ken Tyrell in Formula 3.

The manufacturers competing in BTCC provide competitive cars to privateers.  Matt Neal began his BTCC career with Team Dynamics and showed his racing talents by driving a factory car with a privateer team.

So what's the problem?  This kind of enterprise would allow a young privately sponsored Schumi to buy a works car, hire a team and go racing in F1 to show off his/her! talent.  The only downside that I could see is that it might encourage an up and coming P*nt*n* to buy a works Ferrari (with your blessing Luca!) and make a nuisance of himself in the midfield.

So while it's got its pluses and minuses, what you would have is the opportunity for new teams to enter the sport at a relatively reasonable price and perhaps form the Brabham's, Tyrell's, or Jordan's of tomorrow, moving into production over the course of a few years.

Of course you'd have to bring back pre-qualification! but that's another story.