Formula 1

Bernie Ecclestone's latest F1 idea rather misses the point

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Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone has come up with another idea aimed at solving the financial issues currently hitting the sport's smaller teams.

As several teams struggle to cope with the rising costs, the 84-year-old has suggested a second-tier championship which would be called 'Super GP2'.

The idea would see the four or five top teams compete with the rest of the grid filled with upgraded GP2-style cars produced by a sole party and sold to the smaller teams, who would then compete in a secondary championship.

The suggestion was made by Ecclestone during the meeting between himself and team bosses in Sao Paulo last weekend and Force India deputy team boss Bob Fernley revealed the concept to Autosport.

"There is an alternative, which is 'Super GP2'," said Fernley. "It would be similar to a GP2 car with an upgraded engine.

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"The clear direction we are getting is that there is a desire to have five constructor teams and five customer teams, which will be the best way that they [the sport's owners] feel to go."

Customer cars the way forward?

It seems in recent weeks the idea of three-car teams has at least been dismissed as a long-term solution with only the suggestion of Red Bull and Ferrari running a third car to make up the numbers in 2015.

Instead customer cars, another concept Ecclestone and also Ferrari have been interested in for some time, is seen as the more likely solution.

"Looking at the proposals which have been made, we have to believe that there is some agenda here," - Monisha Kaltenborn

That path, however, continues to infuriate the Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn who again reiterated her belief that F1 bosses and maybe the top teams are attempting to drive the current lower midfield teams off the grid.

"Looking at the proposals which have been made, we have to believe that there is some agenda here," she also told Autosport.

"The agenda seems to be that people are looking at four or five names to remain in here and, when ideas are offered to us of a year-old chassis or engines which maybe are a different spec or whatever, or even a different series, there must be an agenda.

"And since nobody is reacting to it in front we don't know whose agenda it is."

Mixed reaction

As you would expect with any Ecclestone idea, it is dividing opinion among fans on social media. Some like the thought while others are staunchly against it and it is the belief that a sport that attracts nearly $2bn in income each year cannot somehow support 11 or more functioning teams without them risking going out of business that has them angry.

In my opinion this goes down a potentially sustainable route for those who don't have the hundreds of millions to spend each year while keeping the Red Bull's and Ferrari's of the world happy.

10 teams equals 10 different cars

Where the 'Super GP2' idea fails, however, is that no-one wants a grid of 22 or more cars with just five different chassis' taking part.

IndyCar has that kind of format as Dallara produces the chassis and the teams simply run them at the races but that has never been the way in Formula 1.

Each team should produce their own car and while engines and gearboxes and Energy Recovery System's (ERS) are obviously sold by the three or soon-to-be four suppliers, that is as far as it should go.

Two-tier is the way forward

As I have said before, however, I do think a secondary championship could be the way forward.

Simply place restrictions on things such as aerodynamic upgrades, which are among the biggest cost makers in the sport right now, and maybe tweak the engines so they don't match those used by the 'big five'.

That would mean Sauber and Co. don't have to try and match the likes of Red Bull and Mercedes meaning they don't have to spend more than their bank accounts suggests but they are still their own team and they have something to fight for.

The current F1 model doesn't work and the smaller teams have to accept that with all their kicking and screaming they are never going to get much sympathy from Ferrari and Red Bull.

Therefore they need to accept that the way the sport works will have to change particularly for them but I believe my two-tier F1 is far more viable than Ecclestone's 'Super GP2'.

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