Formula One has been going through a phase of attempting to cut costs recently, the introduction of various rules controlling the amount of staff allowed at races, the amount of spare parts and the use of components within the cars all helping to shed some fat from the running costs and enable the entry barriers for new teams to be lowered. However, one rule that is due to come into force for 2009 actually adds considerable cost to some teams, so much in fact, they are currently in serious financial trouble.
Super Aguri today announced that a deal that would have seen the team sold to a Middle Eastern company has fallen through, sending waves of doubt through the Formula One community and potentially resulting in the Japanese squad having to stay at home on the weekend of the Spanish Grand Prix.
Also facing questionable status, although not just yet, is Red Bull’s second team, Scuderia Toro Rosso. Company owner Dietrich Mateschitz has said that the team is going up for sale after the 2008 season is complete, principally because he doesn’t want his company to pay out the extra funds required to design and build their own car.
So, why are the FIA insisting that the formula returns to a traditional constructor series, as opposed to teams buying chassis from other squads? It’s mainly to keep the peace. Williams have been very outspoken over the whole affair and have threatened to take chassis-buyers to court over the matter. And to a degree, you have to understand Williams’s point. The privateer team who have been struggling financially in the past few years (comparably, anyway) still build their own car, pushing the boundaries and innovating new ideas.
But the flip side of the argument, and the point of this post, is that Formula One could end up facing an eighteen car grid next year. Losing Super Aguri and STR would be a very low point for the sport, especially after Dave Richards’ Prodrive entry went to the dogs in early 2008. Fewer teams would mean fewer fans, less competition on the track and no point in me owning a Super Aguri t-shirt.
As far as I’m concerned, Formula One activated the self-destruct sequence when they ruled that customer chassis would no longer be allowed. In an ideal world, every team would have their own, uniquely designed car. But this isn’t the ideal world, and the FIA have failed to appreciate that.
As I said in the title, Formula One’s self destruct sequence has been initiated.