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Ecclestone proposing 15m customer cars


Just days ahead of the start of the new season, Bernie Ecclestone is proposing 15m customer car packages for "smaller" teams.

Whilst, contrary to how things looked just a few weeks back, Manor appears set to line up on the grid in Melbourne, few would want to take as punt on its long term future, Stephen Fitzpatrick making it clear that his pockets are only so deep. Then there's Sauber, Force India and Lotus, each with its own problems and each requiring a pre-season 'sub' from F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

The ever widening divide between the sport's haves and have-nots has already been well documented, as have all previous attempts to at least narrow it.

The latest idea from Bernie Ecclestone is aimed at making F1 racing affordable, however, as with most of his ideas - other than the ulterior motive - it remains to be seen how it is greeted by the teams and the fans.

His plan is to provide the "smaller" teams with two customer chassis at a cost of 15m, which would be taken from their prize money, leaving them, he claims, with around 35m together with whatever they bring in from sponsors and pay drivers. He is talking of Renault or Cosworth supplying the power units.

"Some of the other teams are saying, 'Well, this isn't Formula One, this would be downgrading Formula One'," her told the Daily Mail. "I can't see that. I'd call these four or five teams that we supplied chassis to the 'Team Championship'. They would all be in the Team Championship but they wouldn't be able to win the Constructors' Championship.

"To all intents and purposes, nobody would ever know," he continued. "The public would never know. It would not alter the way they see the races. It wouldn't change the spectacle. It would just mean that instead of incurring big losses, these teams would be able to make a profit.

"I have come up with something that could make a difference between the people that don't have to worry about spending and those that do. But the bigger teams say it's downgrading. They have been living in a very rich area and they think this would be like living in a poorer neighbourhood. So they don't want to be associated with it.

"When I ran Brabham in the seventies, it was on a 'Be reasonable, do it my way' dictatorship system," he continued. "We were racers and we found the money to keep ourselves going. There were always the haves and the have-nots and there was always Ferrari with a lot more money. Nowadays, there is a big difference. There are teams that spend maybe 500m a season and other people that are trying to work with a 120m budget, which is still too much. The regulations don't hurt the people that can spend but hurt the people who are trying to put a team together.

"When you consider teams take maybe 120 people to race two cars and spend up to half a billion pounds to be there, it's not too logical. The Mercedes unit that they take to races and put in the paddock, it takes 24 trucks to carry the parts to assemble it. The FIA believes it keeps the world alive because F1 cars don't use any fuel. Not true. They use a few per cent less than a normal engine. But some teams have 24 trucks to build their motorhomes, which use a lot of fuel. So it is all nonsense. It is all complete hypocrisy, which upsets me. It is complete stupidity.

"Everyone has got their corner they want to fight for. The FIA want to be green, the teams are split on what they want to do and we want to make sure the championship is successful. We are in the entertainment business."


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1. Posted by The stogie, 13/03/2015 20:41

"Well Bernie - you win. I have been an F1 fan for nearly 60 years, having attended F1 races at Mosport, Montreal, Watkins Glen, Detroit, Long Beach, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Monaco and Silverstone. I watch EVERY race with Live Timing on my computer. As of Bernie's new deadline to PAY for HIS website I will be signing off as a former loyal fan. But it has been fun."

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2. Posted by TokyoAussie, 11/03/2015 3:47

"Latest idea of Bernie's is completely forgettable. Yes, there needs to be a major rethinking of the whole system, but this band-aid approach is not it. Bernie wants to reduce costs? Fine, drop the fee for circuits by half and the price of tickets for fans by half, and then tell the teams they have half to play with. Teams will always spend the money they can get. But Bernie telling teams to spend less while CVC rapes the sport is a bit rich."

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3. Posted by Hondawho?, 10/03/2015 9:11

"1. Posted by Darvi, 2 hours ago

Correct, almost. Sorry to be picky.

Ilmor Engineering Ltd, (No "E") is just across the road from the Mercedes new plant, in Morgan Drive and Mercedes avenue (renamed from Illien Avenue I believe) . Ilmor remains in what was then, the Ilmor/ Mercedes factory by the way. It was Mercedes who moved across the road, Ilmor stayed where they were.

You feel the Mercedes building could travel at 200mph if it had wheels, let alone the cars! Well designed, well from the outside."

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4. Posted by Darvi, 10/03/2015 7:21

"@Hondawho - Mercedes Benz High Performance Engines Limited used to be Ilmore. Ilmore was established by Paul Morgan and Mario Illien and made its name by winning Indy with an MB labled pushrod engine. They continued to create MB's Indy engines until Paul Morgan died in 2001 and MB bought Ilmore. Mario Ilien later established what is now Ilmore across the road from MB."

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5. Posted by MustangRacer, 10/03/2015 6:54

"Seeing the same two cars running around the track at the front each race didn't make racing exciting or interesting. There was more exciting stuff mid-field. Not what I was looking for so I tuned out midseason. I hope 2015 is not a rerun 2014. Some limit on spending is a must, some good ideas mention in comments. But I don't want to see a bunch of pre-fab F1 cars, there have to be other solutions."

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6. Posted by Paul C, 09/03/2015 19:39

"Is Bernie,Eddie Jordan or the Flav going to run the F1 car dealership?"

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7. Posted by MakingSense, 09/03/2015 17:41

"This is a pretty good article. You have to love Ecclestones candor. It will be lost in the F1 world when he is gone. He has never and will never be bothered by being politically correct or pandering to any one team for more than 24 hours at a time. I get a kick out of him and I agree with most of what he says in this article."

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8. Posted by Spindoctor, 09/03/2015 17:28

The main reason there all those trucks and "hospitality" gubbins is one Bernito Ecclestini's desire to make F1 more "corporate" (i.e. profitable to him).

You gotta love Bernie's reference to Brabham in the seventies. All very well, but "...that was in another country, and besides, the wench is dead..." .

In the seventies ordinary people got to within 100 yards of the pits without being arrested, or manhandled by goons. F1 cars were devoid of complex electronics and mainly powered by Cosworth's DFV. You could make a Formula 1 car for relatively "sensible" money and stand a chance of mixing it with Lotus, Ferrari et al. Which is exactly what Brabham were doing in the early 1970's. That's not to say that F1 was cheap, but you didn't need to be related to Croesus to be in with a shout.

One of the major reasons why none of the above is true any longer is what Bernie did next. He dumped being a constructor and (somehow) got to have a major influence on F1's development. The rest is, as they say, "history"

I'm less than impressed by his crocodile tears about how expensive and wasteful F1 is today: he made it in his own image. Instead of nostalgic ramblings, how about a bit of "Mea culpa" eh Bernie?

His constant harking on about F1 not being "green" is a typical Bernie canard. Nobody ever said using hybrids would make F1 "green" it just makes it more technically interesting than it was before. The costs of hybrids are not the main problem which is still the exorbitant cost of decent aero work. You can amortise (as does Mercedes) the costs of the engines by flogging to several customers: the aero work is unique to each team.
Resolve that issue and thing look (a bit) brighter...."

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9. Posted by Hondawho?, 09/03/2015 12:51

"8. Posted by bfairey, 19 hours ago
"I thought that Illmor built engines for MB?

Yes they used to do so but no longer. The Mercedes engines are built across the road from Ilmor by ""Mercedes Benz "power train and transmission" division!

Ilmor make, among other successes, the very successful Indy car Chevrolet engines which are V6 and turbo power, sound good as well :-)"

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10. Posted by MDH, 09/03/2015 12:36

"For a long time I have thought that a way to reduce cost is to limit the numbers of team personnel and the number of trucks and motorhomes that attend each GP; this would also help to level the playing field a bit for the smaller teams. Reduced numbers could also enhance the spectacle - let's limit the number of people how are allowed to attend a car during a pitstop. If, say, only 6 were allowed outside the garage during a pitstop, the stop would obviously be longer but we could see what is going on and who the good guys really are."

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11. Posted by Darvi, 09/03/2015 10:31

"I guess FOM/CVC giving up some of the huge income that they take for doing nothing isn't an acceptable way forward..... even though it is the only option that makes sense. This is yet another sticking plaster to try and stop the haemorrhaging that F1 is suffering from."

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12. Posted by Hobgoblin, 09/03/2015 9:37

"@Ro. Ferrari already have elements of their engine in a road car. Admittedly its a road car that only the super rich can afford, but it's there. This technology will filter down to the affordable end soon enough - and despite the problems they are currently experiencing, my money would be on Honda making it affordable first."

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13. Posted by Growler2, 09/03/2015 7:31

"The finances won't add up!

Assuming that the chassis manufacturer sells their chassis to four teams, that's an annual income of 60million which has to cover the design, manufacture of eight chassis and the in-season development. How is that any different to what Red Bull do now (other than Red Bull only manufactures two chassis)? And how much is Red Bull's annual budget?

Ecclestone might just as well propose a new F1-lite series just for customer teams....

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14. Posted by petes, 09/03/2015 3:57

"Actually highlighting the Merc Motor Home and all it necessitates is quite interesting. A huge saving must surely be possible if the teams didn't pander to that crap. I'm thinking, for some silly reason, that the encouragement to pander to it came from short-ares himself...."

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15. Posted by Vinicius, 09/03/2015 3:55

"I like the idea very much. Bernie needs to fight to put the plan forward. MotoGP did the same with CRT bikes and was successful, there is no reason to weep like many "fans"."

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