Today at the Canadian GP, Bernie Ecclestone all but admitted the idea of customer cars for Formula One was now dead in the water.
When asked about the ‘franchise’ idea, which Ron Dennis has been propounding, Ecclestone commented: “I don’t think we’re going to let that happen. How can you allow a competitor supplying things to another competitor?”
In a somewhat a random way, Bernie gave Ted Kravitz an example. “If you and I were athletes and we were running and I was supplying the running shoes – and I made sure your were a bit of a problem and didn’t fit too well.
“It can’t happen.”
Yet F1 customer cars are a big Bernie idea? So what is going on?
Bernie’s model is different form the one discussed by McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes last Thursday. Ecclestone has suggested a third party should supply the customer chassis – like Dallara – then the customer team would choose an F1 engine partner and then bolt their power unit to the homogenous chassis.
So, customer cars – along with refuelling – now looks to be dead in the olympic rowing facility water – which was visible behind Ecclestone during his interview.
Ecclestone will resist Dennis’ ‘Franchise’ plan, which is also unlikely to gain support from Williams or Force India in any case. At the strategy group the FIA will then vote for no change, due to the lack of consensus.
Ecclestone’s proposal for customer cars does not serve the purposes of the big fourF1 manufacturers and so the FIA will then vote with them to defeat the Ecclestone proposal for change.
No wonder Ecclestone had this to say before the weekend about the F1 strategy group, which he helped to form.
“We should stop mucking around and asking for opinions,” said Ecclestone last week. “The problem is we are running something that is too democratic, and Jean won’t go along with things”.
Asked whether F1’s Strategy Group should be removed, Ecclestone replied: “Yeah, absolutely”.
Yet for those who want to see proper consideration given to the ideas intended to create the big ‘new future’ for F1, may feel the strategy group could be serving a useful purpose.
The problem with the F1 strategy group is that even when it gets a small majority decision up to the F1commission, there are usually enough disenfranchised parties sitting there who will vote it down.
What is required is a broader base of constituents than currently sits on the F1 strategy group to consider the original proposals. This would allow deals and trade offs to be made.
The smaller teams may possibly agree to an Ecclestone customer car proposal if it was tempered by agreement for them to receive a bigger slice of the sport’s commercial revenues.
It is ludicrous that one team who doesn’t even come second in the constructors’ championship can receive five times more revenue than the team finishing last.
As long as this elephant in the room is ignored, the F1 strategy group will continue to be busy doing nothing.