Formula One is split over a new proposal to allow ‘customer cars’ on the grid.
The idea is being powered chiefly by Ferrari and Bernie Ecclestone, and marketed as a way to cut costs by opening a new revenue stream for the big teams and reducing the design and manufacturing burden for struggling minnows. Mercedes, however, does not sound keen on the idea of selling a year-old chassis to its smaller rivals.
“If you ran this year with last year’s car then just guess what happens,” said the marque’s Norbert Haug.
Lotus’ Eric Boullier, however, sounds keener.
“If we have to go to customer cars to serve Formula One and be the Formula One of the future, why not? I think the discussion is open now,” he said.
Currently, all teams must design and build their own car, but the existing Concorde Agreement expires at the end of the season. Caterham, initially Team Lotus, entered F1 in 2010 and is yet to score a point.
“An idea is an idea,” said Caterham chief executive Riad Asmat when asked about customer cars. “We are proud of where we are, what we’ve built — we came in as a constructor and we hope to stay that way for now.”
Joan Villadelprat, a former F1 engineer and manager, told AS newspaper: “This idea undermines the spirit of F1. We need to reduce costs in another way.”