F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone has revealed consultations have begun that could pave the way for three car teams from as early as 2015.
In a meeting between the Ecclestone and team bosses in Singapore on Friday, the concept, which has been a well-known desire of Ecclestone to implement in F1 for quite some time, was finally discussed as a serious proposal.
The reason for the idea becoming more and more plausible is simple, more and more teams are at risk of having to pull out.
With Caterham, Marussia, Lotus and Sauber the main teams known to be struggling to make ends meet, should they all be forced out then F1 would be left with at least seven teams.
That would mean only 14 cars in the worst case scenario could be on the grid, however, it is understood the minimum number of cars on the grid that Ecclestone himself wants to see is 20.
It is also well-known that the Briton has long wanted the idea of seeing the top teams run more cars rather than several small teams making up the numbers.
Indeed such is his commitment to make it happen, Ecclestone told the Guardian newspaper he wanted to see three-car teams happen regardless of the number of teams on the grid.
“I think we should do it anyway," he said, "I would rather see Ferrari with three cars, or any of the other top teams with three cars than having teams that are struggling.”
The outline of the proposal is for eight teams to participate with some if not all running three cars.
Of course for that to happen three of the current 11 teams would have to leave, but already there is strong opinions being voiced from teams seen as more financially stable who are opposed to the idea.
Force India, a strong voice in the plight of F1's small teams, have already admitted their concerns about the idea with team owner Vijay Mallya telling Sky Sports the role of smaller teams is just as crucial in F1 as those at the front.
“I am a firm believer that every effort should be made to ensure that all teams big and small survive and race – that is part of the DNA of Formula 1,” he told the British broadcaster.
“But the regulations and the agreements do provide that if the grid is less than 20 cars then participating cars will run a third car. I hope it will never come to that, as I said I think the DNA of F1 should be preserved."
Fair and equitable
The Indian entrepreneur instead repeated his call for a more equal distribution of the sport's large income revenue rather than the current agreement that sees Formula 1's top teams receive a much greater amount.
“I will repeat once again that I will try and persuade the decision makers and the commercial rights holders that they should look very seriously at a more fair and equitable revenue share model so that we do not have to answer such questions all the time,” he added.
The big issue with that statement, however, is whereas it would seem like common sense to most in the business world, such is the level of power that teams like Ferrari, Red Bull and now Mercedes have to influence decisions, should they be against such a move then the chances of it happening are zero.
My take on the idea is not so much based on the idea of what could happen alternatively to introducing three-car teams but instead what the implications of such a move would be.
If there was to be a scenario when there was a need to 'make up the numbers' then how would the idea be implemented?
If one team has three cars then all teams should have three cars, after all the advantage in terms of car development and assisting the two main drivers would be huge for the handful of teams running a third car and that's before you ask whether that third car should be eligible for points or whether it should be given to a younger driver.
For the likes of Williams, Toro Rosso, which is becoming more independent from Red Bull, and Force India too, the increase in funds needed to run a third car would be near impossible to find.
Solving the original problem
The only way to solve the issues caused by introducing a third car actually solve the problem F1 is trying to fix in the first place.
Surely, the only way out would be to introduce a second tier championship for the three or more teams running with only two drivers.
But if that was to happen then a different set of regulations would likely need drawing up and, given these are teams with smaller budgets, the proposal of a second tier F1 championship would likely attract more teams to the sport thus cutting out the need for three-cars in the first place.
Time to smell the roses
Therefore rather than going ahead with an overcomplicated and, lets be honest, unnecessary idea like introducing three-car teams it should be time for Bernie Ecclestone and those at the top to wake up and smell the roses.
In this time of financial restraint for everyone, F1 needs the smaller teams much more than the likely realise and want to admit so more should be done to increase their chance of survival rather than pushing them further through the door.
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