With at least four current F1 teams in visible financial peril, there is growing concern about the number of cars that will be on the grid next year. Some are adamant that the number of cars present in any given race should not fall below 20. Naturally, with the number of teams next year likely to decrease by at least two and possibly three or four, people are entertaining the discussion of how to ameliorate this. One solution is to increase the number of cars allotted to each team to three.
Among the teams in financial trouble, Caterham is in perhaps the worst shape, with many seriously doubting the future of the team. Marussia is ostensibly in dire straits financially, but, then again, no one knows for certain, as there seems to be a veil shielding all of the team’s information. Sauber and Lotus have also had financial problems, though it remains unseen if these are serious enough to preclude their entry into next season. People have also raised concerns with the sponsorship deals of the Pro-Force India team, also questioning its future. With Gene Haas’ supposed American Formula 1 team forestalled for another year, the number of teams on the grid next year could be as few as eight.
Bernie Ecclestone has voiced tentative support for the idea, stating recently,
“It has always been on the cards if we lose up to three teams the others will run three cars. I think we should do it anyway. I would rather see Ferrari with three cars, or any of the other top teams with three cars, than having teams that are struggling.”
A major problem with this, however, is that it puts an increased financial burden on teams which are already struggling financially to begin with. According to Mercedes’ Toto Wolf, who is against three car teams, there would be an additional cost per team of 32 million euros, should they decide to field a third car.
Naturally, any decision to field a third car would be voluntary on behalf of the teams, many of whom would most likely stick to two. One might also imagine how this would also make the playing field much less level. With access to a third more potential points, certain teams would be imparted with an undeniable advantage. This would also serve to widen the gap between teams which are underfunded and the powerhouses such as Red Bull and Mercedes with cash aplenty.
Nonetheless, Ferrari has expressed interest and support for the idea of fielding a third car. A Ferrari spokesperson commented,
“With all due respect, people would prefer to see three more Red Bulls, Ferraris and Mercedes than the other cars”
While McLaren stated they would be open to fielding a third car to ensure the vitality of the sport, the Prancing Horse clearly has other motivations, with their spokesperson opining,
“It’s not about the survival of F1 but for the show.”