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2015-05-25 12:42

DRAMATIC CHANGE IN F1 ON CARDS? F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is dabbling with the idea of the sport's bigger teams supplying 'customer cars' to smaller teams. Image: AP / Darron Cummings

MONTE CARLO, Monaco - F1 appears to be racing headlong into a "customer cars" future.

Germany's Auto Motor and Sport reports that four teams - Lotus, Force India, Sauber, Manor - are in dire and almost immediate danger of collapsing mid-season.

It would explain why Bernie Ecclestone is pushing so hard to introduce his "one chassis, one engine" solution.


Under the plan, teams would pay €15-million - close to R200-million - for a basic chassis and standard engine package, probably powered by an old-fashioned V8. As that would create a two-tier structure in F1, with constructors on one hand and 'customers' on the other, the smaller teams are loudly protesting.

Force India boss Vijay Mallya: "We're an independent constructor and we want to stay that way. We do not agree with the concept of customer cars."

Sauber has also come out fighting but Mercedes' Toto Wolff has heard differently. "It's interesting they say that because three of them (teams) came to see me about whether we could supply customer cars."

It's unclear which solution is the front runner - Ecclestone's 'GP1'-like plan, or big teams such as Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari simply producing extra cars for customers.


Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda told British broadcaster Sky at the May 2015 Monaco F1 weekend: "Bernie says we (the big teams) will be the constructors, then there will be somebody else (the customers). The (small) teams will never have enough money.

"I think the philosophy should be that we (the big teams) make two extra cars (each), not one.  The teams struggling today with money and performance can switch to become customers so this is what we are working on now.

"I think it's the right direction."

Auto Motor and Sport said Ecclestone and his CVC paymasters were eyeing the model of five strong constructors allied with five healthy customers, paving the way for a potential flotation of the sport.

The basic format would be Mercedes with Lotus, Ferrari with Sauber, Red Bull with Toro Rosso, McLaren with Manor and Williams with Force India, the report explained.

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 Formula 1 series.


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