Three not the magic number

By on Friday, November 11, 2011

Luca di Montezemolo continues to propose three car teams

With the question of third cars currently revisiting F1, several of the team principals gave their opinions on the subject in today’s official FIA press conference.

Many of F1’s most successful teams have, in the past, ran more than two cars at F1 race meetings, and while two has been the standard for the modern championship, the issue of running more cars is revisited every so often. “I don’t think third cars are out of the question but I think what we mustn’t do is create a situation that harms the financial and sporting environment for the smaller constructors,” said Mercedes’ Ross Brawn. “If we do something that makes their situation far more difficult then what have we achieved? We have achieved a smaller group of manufacturers and I don’t think that’s good. It can be a solution if we are getting short of cars, but I would far rather see a healthy group of constructors and as many as we can.”

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, while largely agreeing with Brawn, raised the tantalising prospect of third cars being a conduit to bring exciting drivers into the sport who wouldn’t otherwise see the opportunity. “I think there are some interesting ideas about a third car,” he conceded. “We would all be excited to have (Valentino) Rossi or Sebastien Loeb in a Formula One car. It would be great but, as Ross said, I think we have got to act responsibly. I think the DNA, the structure of Formula One, requires the variety of teams and we have got some new teams and we have got some smaller teams and we recognise that it is very, very challenging to get the budget to compete in Formula One."

"If, today, Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes all fielded third cars then I think, in my view, it would be damaging for the sport. There are pros and cons and I think it is right to have the debate and people have different views but at the moment I think what we should be concentrating on is ensuring that we have got a viable and sustainable model for all of the teams in Formula One.”

From the other end of the grid Virgin team principal John Booth supported the view that change really isn’t in his team’s best interests. “I think first of all we have a very healthy grid of cars at the moment. I don’t really see any need to change the formula. From our point of view it is important that every entrant is a constructor.”

The debate on third cars, which was a significant issue five years ago, has come back to the fore as questions are raised about the many inter-team technical cooperation agreements that have proliferated between the front and back of the grid in the last two years.

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