Posted 15 January 2013 - 02:08 AM
I doubt we'll see customer cars too soon, but I figured the discussion could be interesting (not to say we haven't already been down this road, but hey, we're discussing Sutil again. The video clip of him running and the picture of him holding Hamilton's hand have not surfaced, so clearly, we can discuss the same topic twice and get different results).
I have a few thoughts (and more than a few words to express them) about customer cars:
1. They're part of the sport's history. Being part of history does not inherently make something good or bad. Not an argument for them, just an argument against being against them on the grounds that they violate some sort of essence of the sport. Moreover, the world changes, so even if it does fracture the sanctity of what F1 is today, it doesn't have to ruin what F1 is tomorrow.
2. Some herald Le Mans and sports car racing as the last "pure" racing form. Apparently, innovation is alive and well there, and dead in these parts. Sports car racing is and was built on customer cars, though. Customer cars don't mean boring cars, or more boring races, or anything like that. Le Mans was no less of an event when Kolles had an Audi R15, or Oreca had a Peugeot 908, or countless teams ran Lola and HPD chassis. Same with Ferrari, Porsche, Corvette, and Aston Martin selling to customers. BMW, Mercedes, and McLaren in GT3.
3. Could there not be some positives? What if McLaren, for example, agree to provide a customer chassis to Marussia on the condition that Marussia give a seat to a promising young talent like Kevin Magnussen for him to develop? What if Williams can unload a chassis to Caterham and not have to be so reliant on pay drivers? What if increased revenue for Red Bull and Ferrari means more innovation and a better battle at the front?
4. Some worry that customer cars will create "haves" and "have-nots." As if competition itself doesn't already. Here's a theory: Red Bull beat Renault with customer Renault engines. McLaren beats Mercedes with customer Mercedes engines. Seems to me it wouldn't be different with customer chassis; one year, STR beat Red Bull.
And isn't that the fun? Having haves and have-nots creates the opportunity for surprise and storylines. Were we not excited when Pérez and Sauber challenged Alonso and Ferrari? When Oreca won Sebring against the factory Peugeot and Audi teams? When Vettel won Monza for STR? When Super Aguri scored points? When everyone is on even footing, nothing is a surprise, because they're all supposed to be good enough to win. However, if you let it be too free, with teams like HRT and Caterham, there's no chance for surprise. This could be a good compromise.
5. Some worry that customer cars will be unfair to the teams who develop their own cars, or make things too even, or too stale. There was a time when the Porsche 962 was everywhere in sports car racing, yet each team worked so hard to develop their own in unique ways that made it a competition. There's a reason a Rebellion Lola B12/60 beats a Dyson chassis of the same variety. Same with a Muscle Milk HPD ARX-03a being superior to JRM or Strakka. If the option is afforded to a team, and that team chooses not to take it, fine. Roger Penske didn't complain when he built his own CART chassis and was comprehensively beaten by customer Lola and Reynard teams because his car didn't turn as well at Indianapolis. He continued to put out mediocre cars for a few years, then switched to Reynard...and developed the car to be so individualized they called it a Renske, as it differed greatly from other Reynards...hmm...sounds stale...
None of these things really justify customer cars, as much as just make me feel like the idea shouldn't be totally discounted...
Posted 15 January 2013 - 11:27 AM
What F1 really needs is more cars than grid spots. The 107% rule is a complete joke...enforced only in Q3 when the top cars are running on the harder (slower) tyre. It's a wishy washy target for the back teams - they never know what it is until the end of Q3, so where is the impetus to really improve?
Now, increase the entrants by 10 or so cars, by means of customer cars and/or third cars (perhaps under a rule of "each team is allowed to enter a third car at three races in a season), and the guys at the back must then really pull their pants up so as to qualify for 8 grid spots less than there are cars.
But Bernie doesn't like that - prefers 20 cars only. He'd rather have sprinklers and short cuts than a competition at the back of the field...which only makes the mid field and top of the field ever mindful of their backs.
Other than that, I agree with 99% of what Eric said
Posted 16 January 2013 - 08:14 AM
Back in the rose tinted era you'd have Formula 2 as the proving ground for teams looking for a step up into F1. With GP2/3 somehow I do not think that any team would be in an automatic position to design, build & refine a F1 car. No doubts they could be a well polished racing team, but as a constructor I seriously doubt it.
They killed the constructor era by draining its supports. The pinnacle of a constructor's series should be supported by feeder constructor series to sort of create an ecosystem where talent is honed before enrolling into the so-called top.
Even if they allow customer cars, I'd still watch it, nevertheless
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