Franchise style F1 teams is now the Ecclestone plan


Anyone who has followed Formula One closely for more than a couple of years will come to the conclusion that the sport is run by either the greatest mind ever – or a bumbling fool who can’t remember what he says.

Less than two years ago, Bernie Ecclestone was asked whether the demise of HRT and the loss of the twelfth team would adversely affect Formula One.

“I’d rather have ten,” he remarked. “I never wanted 12. It’s just that 10 is easier to handle, for the promoters, for transport. We’d rather have 10… so long as we don’t lose Ferrari.”

Roll the clock on a year, and Ecclestone has changed his tune.

Ahead of the 2014 Singapore GP, Bernie was asked what would happen if Formula One lost more teams from the grid. “It’s always been on the cards that if we lose up to three teams then the other teams will run three cars,” he said.

The so called F1 supremo then stated 3 car teams were his preference regardless. “I think we should do it anyway. I would rather see Ferrari with three cars, or any of the other top teams with three cars, than having teams that are struggling.”

Another year rolls by and during the 2015 Russian GP weekend, we were privileged to see the Martin Brundle try out for the part of ‘grand inquisitor’. The SKY F1 presenter interviewed Ecclestone who eventually cracked under the relentless pressure from Brundle, and revealed, “I want to see 13 – 2 car teams.”

Brundle appears to desperately be trying to steer the conversation, but Ecclestone is either not playing ball or has forgotten his lines.

In reply to Ecclestone’s 13 2 car teams comment Brundle suggests: “A Full house… franchise. Then they would have value, be something you could sell, If a manufacturer wanted to come into F1, they’ve got to buy a franchise.

Everbody’s got a business model, like you have in the normal business world.”

Ecclestone nods repeatedly, adding “It’s very difficult for a new manufacturer to come in today”


TJ13 raised ‘franchise’ style idea back in February 2013 in a tongue in cheek article entitled, “GLOBAL PREMIER RACING IN AN ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSE”

The point Martin Brundle was desperate for Bernie to make was that by only ever creating say 13 F1 racing licenses – which can be bought and sold under supervision from the FIA, Formula One helps team owners protect their investment to some degree.

Had there been 10 F1 racing licenses only in F1 in 2014, Gene Haas would have been forced to do a deal with a team whose owners wanted to sell.

Whereas at present, the FIA appear to be happy to grant licenses to new applications – even from Romanian janitors et al.

Of course a franchise style ownership of F1 racing licenses would only work if F1 gets its house in order and becomes an attractive place where new teams want to come and race. The powers that be need to create the necessary conditions where demand to be in F1 should outstrip availability of opportunity.

This climate would mean that when international corporate gambling institutions like Genii get bored with losing money, or global fizzy drinks marketing organisations quit because they can’t win every race, F1 remains strong – less dependent and desperate to satisfy the whims of the competitors.

Maybe after wandering in the wilderness for years, finally Bernie is on the right track with 13 franchise style 2 car F1 teams – that is assuming he can remember the plan of course at the next F1 strategy group meeting.


11 responses to “Franchise style F1 teams is now the Ecclestone plan

  1. Don’t the teams already have to pass on £20million to FIA/CVC to join series as a ‘licence fee’? I seem to remember something about the licence from Caterham or Marussia being in a separate company name to protect it’s value.

    • It’s about 100,000 to the FIA to complete their ‘scrutinisation’ process.

      Also, the point about the Caterham license being separated in another company, was to split it out from the debts – which de facto makes it more valuable.

      However, the Caterham racing license is now no more. It does not live in perpetuity.

      • Just found it here: the article is a good few years old but it is saying teams have to lodge a $48million bond with FIA!!!!!
        As you say the bond/licence doesn’t last in perpetuity so I wonder if the FIA gave the Caterham Administrators the bond back? My guess is Caterham effectively forfitted the bond as they missed more than 2 races!!!!
        So effectively it was $48 million to join F1 about 9 years ago!!!!!! Wonder how much Hass has had to stump up? Seems like he would have much better off buying Caterham although that wouldn’t have enabled him to build a ‘brand new American’ team.
        Also Hass can’t receive any prize money for almost 3 years for a brand new team!!!

  2. The FIA has too much control, which in no small way has contributed to the current fiasco that is F1. Reduce the powers of the FIA and reduce the complexity of the new engines. They are simply too esoteric to ever realistically be used in road vehicles on a large scale. Anything less will result in the continuing inexorable decline of what was once the pinnacle of motor sport.

    • I’ve given up using the Pinnacle of motor sport tag at this stage, with the limited franchise concept maybe they can rebrand to the Titleist of motor sport at this stage. Tight list? Anyone? Never mind 😉

  3. Seems like a nice idea, certainly worth elaborating. For some reason it reminds me of the NFL, which is also built on franchises, not to mention extremely wealthy and successful.

    I wonder if NFL’s TV money distributrion is somehow connected to the wealth and sucess of the franchises and the series itself.

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