Voices emerge against customer cars concept in F1

It is being discussed if customer cars can be introduced in F1 where big teams will be able to sell their cars to other teams. However, it is feared that it cannot be done unless smaller teams are driven out of business.

Updated: October 25, 2013 21:56 IST
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Greater Noida: Sahara Force India and Sauber on Friday took the lead in voicing protests against the concept of bringing customer cars in F1, saying it was a "ridiculous" idea and a "dangerous" route to go down if cutting costs is the objective.

It is being discussed if customer cars can be introduced in F1 where big teams will be able to sell their cars to other teams. However, it is feared that it cannot be done unless smaller teams are driven out of business.

While Red Bull supports the idea among the big teams, Mercedes was not "enamoured". Ferrai refused to comment at this stage but mid-field teams such as Force India and Sauber today minced no words in rejecting the concept.

"As far as Sahara Force India is concerned we are completely opposed to the concept of customers cars...now to try to address lowering of costs through a radical customer car concept is ridiculous in my view. What happens to the smaller teams that have factories, that employ hundreds of people and who are effectively running companies.

"You can't just discard everything and just buy a one-year old car from an established team and go motor racing. I think that affects the total DNA of Formula One from the day it was started," Vijay Mallya, Team Principal, said.

Mallya's Sauber counterpart Monisha Kaltenborn too rejected the idea.

"Sauber's been in motorsport now for more than 40 years and our core business is making race cars in different series, so we are absolutely against this concept of a customer car because we're ruining our own business here.

"When you introduce these kind of measures you're changing so much. This will not lead to any cost reduction because you might have four teams in there that are capable of putting in that much money, but at some point in time - they are all in their to win - when they don't do that and maybe just end up with a few points they leave the sport as well. So it's a very dangerous route to go down." Lotus Team Principal Eric Boullier said there must be a way out for reducing the costs.

"I think that customer cars are against the DNA of Formula One personally. But I think obviously there is a cost restriction that needs to be in place in Formula One. We all agree with this. Actually even the teams on the back row agree there us some cost saving to be done. ...At the end if we don't do this it's going to be more and more difficult obviously to survive.

"So if you want to avoid the customer car… we can maybe run three cars in the near future to keep a decent grid but still it’s more money and it’s against cost saving, so we need to think and think cleverly about it," he said. However, Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner found it sensible to cut the costs by bringing in customer cars.

"If you're just looking at it from a pure cost point of view, the most logical way to take out a huge amount of cost would be to sell a car or a year-old car in its entirety. Now whether that goes against the grain of what a constructor should be and is in current Formula One is a separate debate.

"But if you are absolutely transfixed on saving costs, it is, without a shadow of a doubt the most effective way to reduce costs. Whether it's the right thing to do is obviously another questions. Inevitably there is going to be a lot of debate about it and it's something that, as a sport, we need to be open-minded to," he said.

Mercedes' Team Principal Ross Brawn said costs need to be reduced and sharing parts which are not related to performance can be the way out.

"I don't think we, as a team, are particularly enamoured with the idea of customer cars. And perhaps finding ways of sharing parts that are non-performance differentiators.

"I know the one that gets classically mentioned is the pedal system and a lot of the parts of the car that are not performance differentiators between the competitors but everybody makes their own pedals and makes their own steering racks, because we have to.

"I think there is some progress that can be made in those areas without damaging the DNA of the sport at all," he said.

Brawn also said that an "unsupported idea" from the Strategy Group could make it into the regulations.

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