F1 needs some radical re-thinking warns Gallagher


Former Jordan and Jaguar marketing boss Mark Gallagher warns that the sport needs to take a long, hard look at itself or risk imploding.

The Irishman, who started out as a journalist and broadcaster, subsequently going on to spearhead Cosworth's return to F1, seriously fears for the sport's future, warning that it must learn from its mistakes.

His main concern, like many others within the business, is money, and while he supports the idea of a budget cap he fears that implementing it would prove impossible.

"It is a great idea, but policing that will be impossible," he told Italy's F1web.it. "You can try to limit how a team spends money, but what about its suppliers, sister companies or parent?

"When Max Mosley had the idea in 2009 to offer new teams an entry into F1 under a tight cost-cap, it looked like he might find a way to do it," he continued, "but of course the larger existing teams were not interested and so it never happened.

"The new teams - Caterham, Marussia and the now-absent HRT - were brought into Formula One on the basis of promises which were broken," he added. "I expect that the outcome will not result in a significant change because there is no way Red Bull or Ferrari will want to see their competitive advantage eroded by a budget-cap. I cannot see the top teams agreeing to it very easily."

Like many, Gallagher also fears that the introduction of the new formula - and the resultant spending increase - couldn't have come at a worse time.

"The timing of these changes is wrong," he said, "we should have waited until 2016 when the economic situation had improved and been translated into new sponsorship in F1. However, Renault made it very clear that unless there was a road-relevant engine in F1, they would quit the sport. Also the FIA was very keen to introduce 'green' technology.

"These are the reasons for the new regulations," he urged. "At Cosworth we pushed very hard for the new engines to be cost-capped to an R&D budget which would enable the teams to continue paying no more than €8m (6.6m) a year (the same as a V8 engine plus KERS) but the manufacturers were not interested in cost."

As well as pushing for the introduction of the new engine formula, the Irishman blames Renault for forcing Cosworth out of F1.

"Renault was determined to increase its customer base,” he claims, "after using its automotive manufacturer status to attract Caterham away from Cosworth in 2011 it did the same with Williams for 2012, leaving Cosworth with only HRT and Marussia. When HRT collapsed it was pretty clear that Marussia would not be able to fund the Cosworth 2014 engine programme on its own, so the project had to be stopped.

"If I was a private team I would prefer to have a unique relationship with Cosworth and produce a 'works' engine than to be the third customer of a car manufacturer," said the former A1GP Team Ireland boss. "I really hope a car manufacturer or new F1 team works with Cosworth in the future, it’s a great company."

Looking at the bigger picture, he warns: "Formula One needs some radical re-thinking if it is to bring costs down and improve the racing. If it doesn't, fans, sponsors and media will move elsewhere.

"Yes, there have been some new sponsors, such as UPS at Ferrari, Blackberry at Mercedes or Burn (Coca Cola) at Lotus," he admits. "However, the new deals have been generally smaller than in the past, and they are centralised on the top five teams."

Everyone has an opinion in terms of what they would do to improve the sport, and the Irish veteran is no different.

"I would dramatically limit aerodynamic design and development," he admits, "as this is the highest area of expenditure and the biggest reason for the difference in performance between the front and back of the grid. I would even consider fixing the aerodynamic configuration of the cars at the end of pre-season testing."

Chris Balfe

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Published: 15/01/2014
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