Daily News and Comment: Sunday 22nd March


Franz Tost argues the case of customer cars

It looks like the general dissatisfaction in the Red Bull camp goes far beyond the usual whinge bags of Christian Horner and Helmut Marko. Franz Tost, the team boss of Toro Rosso, who came close to embarrassing the mothership in Melbourne is not best pleased with the state of affairs either.

Toro Rosso obviously evolved from the much loved Minardi team, but they only survived the early years was because they used the hand-me-down chassis of the Big Bulls. Infamously, Seb Vettel scored the first win for STR before a Red Bull driver ever climbed to the top of the podium. He did so in 2008 in what was essentially a 2007 Red Bull chassis.

Dietrich Mateschitz has consistently funded the Faenza squad in minimalistic fashion. Despite being the red-haired bastard child in the Red Bull camp, Toro Rosso have provided several drivers for the mother ship – with Vettel being the most prominent.

Franz Tost now reveals that the concept of using the previous year’s Red Bull chassis has been destroyed by the same teams that these days revert to contract fraud, hiring useless eyecandy or stab other teams in the back in a desperate bid to survive.

“If you look at the industry these days, all the manufacturers work together,” Tost explains in an interview with Motorsport Total. “In a BMW you’ll find parts from other manufacturers, for instance a Peugeot engine. They work together to reduce costs. That’s what we had in mind when working with Red Bull Technologies. That was our model five years ago, but they destroyed it. Those you were opposed back then are the ones who are now in trouble.”

Looking at the history of F1, the concept of customer cars is as old as the series, as outlined in Fat Hippos Rant two years ago. Sir Frank Williams started his team buying chassis’ from Brabham, de Tomaso and March.

But, alas, the Strategy group is too busy deciding how often drivers might be allowed change their helmet designs and visit the toilet.


12 responses to “Daily News and Comment: Sunday 22nd March

  1. It was the same tears chasis, just a step or 2 behind, with a Ferrari engine rather than a Renault.

    • Think he might be doing the usual rebull re-write history to suite our purposes. I just remember at the time what a big deal it was that they were near as identical chassis at the time.

      However I agree with the point there does need to be some economies of scale now. But then again it wasn’t needed in the past, and if everyone agreed to a budget cap, then we wouldn’t be where are now, had red bull and Ferrari not took the money and run, franz wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

      • It’s fair comment though that the idea of defining a manufacturer centric series is replete with natural conflict.

        It’s also against the grain of industry and nature to try to rule out miscegenation.

        I read a article the other day how nothing much but some adjustments are needed in F1. Whilst there’s a tendency to assume that outspoken talk in the paddock is mere posturing I have no inclination to call it without merit.

        I believe much grumbling is because this series is too constrained and rules are too long now appearing to have no acquaintance with the vital life of a car.

  2. “Looking at the history of F1, the concept of customer cars is as old as the series”

    The problem is that customer cars is simply unworkable today because of, as the Judge mentioned once, *reliability*. Let Merc, Williams and Ferrari supply a customer car, and the best McLaren or Red Bull could hope for would be a lowly 10, weekend-in, weekend-out.

    If anything could kill F1 (teams), this would.

    • But let’s not forget that the big teams scuppered the midfields idea of sharing a chassis design and construction facility, which would have addressed those issues.

      Both the FI and Marussia are basically running 2014 chassis adapted for 2015 rules, wouldn’t it be better if they at least had the option to buy last year’s Merc or Williams or RB and adapt that instead? Especially if it was cheaper.

      • Assuming that McLaren and Enstone would never care for buying a chassis, and that Force India and Sauber can bolt a Merc/Ferrari engine onto a Merc 2014/RB 2014, then I weep for McLaren and Enstone. They’ll go bust as quickly as it takes to say… Bernie…

  3. Haas F1 recognizes the economy of scale is found by purchasing the whole drive train, while being efficient with chassis expenses.

    F1 decided unique chassis to be integral to modern F1.

    The problem is not the chassis but the high costs of the engines, unequal pay outs from FOM to teams, and FOM’s too high profit margins.

    • This whole Tost article ties back to Red Bull’s current F1 budget predicament.

      Which is why Red Bull also publicly requested the FIA to hamper the Mercedes engine with a regulation change a few days ago. What is very surprising is how effective their request has been so far.

      Yes, it’s true that their request caused an immediate back-lash against themselves for the unsportsmanlike nature of their request. But it also caused a majority of F1 spectators to actually ponder the question of whether or not the Mercedes engine should be hampered in some way by a regulation (or enforcement) change.

      Red Bull’s arguments are very weak, perhaps extremely weak, on merits alone. But their voice is very strong.

  4. I think the first step in reigning in costs, without breaking the spirit of having unique chassis’, is to standardize the safety cell. This should be the FIA’s number one priority. There is no reason the teams should be making their own safety cells. The FIA should set a spec, with integrated hard mounting points that will accommodate all single-seater open-cockpit race series. F1, FE, GP2, GP3, etc. A group of certified manufacturers, independent of the teams, would be given the task of building these cells and allowed to sell them to any race team at a fixed price specified by the FIA. This will save huge costs not only in development, but also the need to crash test that aspect of every teams car. If safety is really the priority, then the focus should be to design and implement the safest Cell that we are able to build as humans. Any development and subsequent changes to this cell should be handled exclusively by the FIA. Teams should not be allowed to modify the safety cell in any way.
    I just think it has been proven over and over, that if you leave safety in the hands of the teams, there will inevitably be an occasion that safety will be sacrificed for speed, or points, or money. Usually all of the above. Standardizing the safety cell seems to me, to be the best way to keep the drivers safe(r), and start spooling down the costs.
    This year they lowered the front mounting points on the safety cell 50mm I think? this was done to improve the look of the noses? or was it to improve safety? The high noses from a few years ago were implemented to stop cars from flipping one another, but now they are gone because safety? is it safer to have high noses or low noses? cause im not exactly sure what the FIA’s stance is on this… And if they didn’t keep changing their minds, then teams would be able to use slightly modified versions of last years car, and not build an entirely new chassis because Bernie.

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