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Ali Kasim
Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014

Sports

End of bottom teams if three-car grid is adopted?

The New Paper | Ali Kasim | Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014

The prospect of three drivers per team on the grid for next season has only compounded the struggle for the three bottom teams in Formula 1.

Sauber, Caterham and Marussia are struggling both on and off the track in the vastly expensive sport, with many predicting they will not have the resources to continue in F1 beyond this season.

F1 commercial chief Bernie Ecclestone said on Friday that Formula 1 may start next season with eight three-car teams instead of the current 11 two-car outfits, and the consensus among the three teams is clear: three drivers and we're further out the door.

Experts are predicting, should Caterham and Marussia not make it for 2015 due to a shortage of cash, that the four biggest teams (Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren) will choose to run third cars, thus keeping grid sizes at their current level of 22.

Ahead of the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix tonight, two of the under-pressure outfits said they intend to still be in the sport in 2015.

Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said it has been difficult finding new investors and sponsors after a disappointing season where the Swiss-based outfit have not scored a single point.

WORST SEASON

"We are having the worst season of our history and yet, at the same time, we are more than 21 years in F1," Kaltenborn said.

"Every year we get asked the same question. I'm going to answer the same way as always - we'll be around next year as well." Caterham's situation is even more critical.

Founder and Air Asia boss Tony Fernandes sold the team mid-season to a group identified only as Middle Eastern investors.

Earlier this month, the sudden departure of team principal Christijan Albers hinted of continuing problems for the English team under the new ownership.

New team principal Manfredi Ravetto said that 2015 participation was a goal rather than an expectation.

"We inherited a situation which is difficult to such an extent that whatever we do, we see it as an achievement," he said.

"Obviously, the idea of three cars per team compounds the issue for us and some of the other smaller teams.

"If we're struggling with budget (issues) now, it can't possibly get better with another car."

Force India team principal Vijay Mallya said that every effort should be made to ensure all teams, big and small, survive and race.

He said: "If the grid is fewer than 20 cars, then participating teams will race a third car. That's what everyone signed for, but I hope it never comes to that.

"I think the DNA of F1 should be preserved."

"I will try to persuade the decision-makers, the commercial rights holders, that they should look very seriously at a more fair and equitable revenue-share model."

aakasim@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Sept 21, 2014.
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