Following the biggest regulation changes for 2022 in a generation, Formula One feels as though its in a state of perpetual flux at present. Whilst the tweaks to the car design rules for 2023 are minor, the effects of last seasons seismic shifts have yet to be fully realised.
The FIA have launched a process for new competitors to join Formula One despite the ,majority of the current teams objecting to more than 20 cars on the starting grid.
More F1 teams means greater logistics
However, the teams’ views on this issue are not aligned with the fans and most of the expert F1 pundits as Martin Brundle demonstrates speaking to Sky Sports F1.
“Getting more teams in is a logistical thing as well as a financial aspect,You know, will they fit in the pit lane, the paddock, on the grid?”
Whilst this may be true, for the non-European races the freight payload is currently packed tightly into the current fleet of airfreight liners on hire. Adding another team would require an incremental airfreight capacity which could end up costing more per kilo than at present.
Brundle: ’24 F1 cars ideal’
Regardless, Brundle adds: ”How many cars do we need? I think 24 cars will be great personally, we’ve got 29 races this season, 23 grands prix and six sprint races with 20 cars on the grid.
“I don’t think it’s quite enough of a show, personally, and opportunity.”
When commenting on the new Ford-Red Bull partnership, Brundle believes it’s just another branding exercise in which Red Bull have participated a number of times previously.
“If you look at the Ford thing, it’s a halfway house really – it’s an interesting one,” said Brundle.
“Red Bull had Infiniti on for a while, then it had Aston Martin on the side of it for a while before Aston got their own team, so this is a branding thing.”
Ford just a new Red Bull F1 sponsor
Bundles observations are not quite on a like for like basis. Red Bull now has Oracle who replaced the Infiniti and Aston Martin sponsorship, though the partnership is somewhat of a halfway house operation.
It is correct to note that the Ford deal will be mostly a bran ding and sponsorship exercise, though Christian Horner alluded to some technical sharing of expertise particularly in the EV arena.
“What I find most interesting here is all of the world’s car manufacturers are totally focused on electric cars, EVs, coming up, Brundle continues.
“And yet if you look at the Ford announcement, they love the idea of the technology, sustainability, sustainable fuels and the opportunity and then, basically, eyeballs – the number of people who are watching Formula 1 now who are not watching other formula with just battery power, for example.
“So it’s interesting that they’re even wanting to be involved in Formula 1, but it’s just the might that it has at the moment. So they’re coming in in different ways.”
F1 marketing works for auto manufacturers
Ford have realised that Mercedes have benefitted for 15 years from the global branding their Formula One team has brought. Further, their entry costs were a fraction to that being paid by Audi.
Ross Brawn sold his team for around $170m in 2010 now Audi are having to fork out around $600m to buy Sauber.
As the old US adage goes, “win on Sunday, sell road cars on Monday.”
In 2026 Formula One will have 6 power unit suppliers in Audi, Ferrari, Honda, RBRT Ford, Mercedes and Renault with the hope that Cadillac and Porsche may yet join the party.
No return to the bad old F1 days
Brundle argues this can only re-enforce the current foundations being laid by Formula One which should never see a return to the bad old days when many manufacturers shunned the sport for fear of failure.
“So what we do know it looks like we’ve got six original equipment manufacturers, OEMs, as they’re called, signed up for the new 2026 motor,” Brundle observes.
“I did an interview about the new Brawn documentary coming out and back in 2008, 2009, Honda pulled out, we lost Super Aguri at the same time.
“The following year, BMW pulled out, then Toyota withdrew completely, and we were terrified where that was all heading and maybe we’re going to have to get Cosworth motors in and Judd motors in.
“And suddenly here we are with six manufacturers signed up for the long term. So, overall, really good news for F1.”
Mercedes AMG F1 may prove the litmus test
The question Brundle should be asking is whether the current hype about new manufacturers joining Formula One can be maintained.
The problem the sport has faced in previous years is with the exception of Ferrari manufacturers have come and gone and often this is related to how capable they are of winning races and filling sports pages column inches.
After all, there can only be one winning car each F1 race weekend and one winning manufacturer. Further, just one manufacturer can win the constructors’ title and on gain credit for the drivers’ championship too.
Mercedes could prove to be the litmus test given their recent run of 8 consecutive constructors’ championships. If they remain the third placed team on the grid as they were in 2022 or even worse fall behind an Alpine, McLaren or Aston Martin, how much petite will they have to remain in Formula One.
The rest for now are building for the future, Mercedes is fighting to retain its recent heritage and success. Should that fall away, will the interest of Stuttgart fade too?
— Formula 1 (@F1) February 5, 2023