Three Car Teams


Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Whats the time Mr Wolff? Time to bring up the old three car teams thing again.

Yes thanks to Toto Wolff, who is executive director of Williams Grand Prix holdings and not responsible for the 80's hit "Africa"(as far as I know), the three car team debate is back again. Should teams be allowed to run 3 cars if they want too? Would that up the competition or just create a monoply. The idea was really pushed by Ferrari back in 2009 and whilst I was against the idea at the time I can't help but wonder how much fun it would have been to watch Alonso, Massa and Schumacher all in the same team.

The fact its being brought up by Mr Wolff is not just random. This year Williams have quite clearly gone for drivers who are able to supply them with the funds needed to build the kind of car they wanted and its worked, this years Williams is the best and most competitve car we've seen from them since 2003, however the two drivers they have seem to think they are driving in wacky races and whilst pulling off some good results more often than not everything has ended up in tears whilst a young talented Finnish driver named Bottas (I may have mentioned him a few times this year) has sat on the sidelines itching to get in the race seat. What Mr Wolff means when he says "Ideally we'd like to run 3 cars next season" is ideally we'd like to keep Bruno and Pastor on so we have the funds to build on what we have now but we'd like to have Bottas out there in the races to maxamise the results. Whilst I've always been against the 3 cars in a team rule this last bit has made me stop and think. Would having 3 cars allowed to run mean the less funded teams would be able to get there funding to be competitive by running the drivers with the funds as well as sneaking in an extra less funded bit of talent? A have your cake and eat it scenario.

Certainly there are teams in this situation. HRT have Clos on the sidelines, Caterham have Rossi. Marussia would have loved to have kept hold of D'ambrosio this season. Toro Rosso didn't really want to get rid of Buemi. Ferrari were desprete to get Bianci a seat and Merc the same with Sam Bird. Would the three car rule have allowed all these drivers to compeate this year and have a shot at showing what they are worth? Well, maybe - the problem with three cars a team is that it would actually give the back end teams less oppotunity. If all the teams ran 3 cars it would mean we would have 10 cars too many for the grid of 26 max. With the cars how they are that would mean 3 HRTs, 3 Marussia's and 3 Caterham's would not be in the race and probably 1 Toro Rosso (although thst scrap to not be the 27th car would be mighty!) which defeats the purpose of my whole other argument.

It could of course create more oppotunity at the front. If the top teams were running 3 cars would they be more likely to take a gamble on a youngster. Would Ferrari have thrown Perez or Bianchi into their thrid car this year? Would Red Bull have bumped up Buemi, Vergne or Ricciardo? Merc might have taken a gamble on Di Resta or the Enstone based team might have given D'Ambrosio a chance in a competitve car. Its quite exciting to think about what these guys might have done in the current cars. Of course it would defeat the purpose of the new scoring system in that the 3 top teams would once again take the majority of the points home. Not a problem this season as its so competitive but in some season you could imagine it would get boring. Plus it is open to abuse as well. Would Mclaren just stick Gary Parfett in the third car and have him perform tests on their upgrades during races every weekend? Would Ferrari employ a mobile chicane in their third driver to just block the other guys helping Alonso to scamper off into the distance?

I think I still come down on the side of no on this one but but it is interesting to debate and would love to hear your guys views on it all. One idea I did think of was that a team would be allowed to run a third car but the driver in the third car could not have raced 21 or more Grand Prixs - that would mean the teams would have to give the oppotunity to younger drivers coming through.

I suspect that the whole dynamics of the driver market would have to change, rather than simple moves like Buemi staying at STR or Bianchi getting a chance at Ferrari. Maybe Hamilton would be able to leave McLaren if there was an extra seat at each team, for example. Maybe the Ferrari #2 seat wouldn't be such a career killer, since you could at least prove your worth against the Ferrari #3.

I agree with you that Williams have the most to gain. It is clear that their current driver line-up is not producing to the capabilities of the car and they're just crying out to let Bottas or Sutil or some other competent driver take on the mantle of getting results. Might be interesting to see where Sauber's two drivers really are compared to someone else, too.
Even having two pay drivers like Maldonado and Senna plus an established driver (or rookie), it will still cost the team more than to just run two cars. First of all the car itself will cost several millions, then the updates, and also maintaining and transporting the car.

I wouldn't mind the three car rule, but it will have an effect on the smaller teams, which I personally would not like to see go.
As I have always said, I would prefer to see a return of the single-car, private owner team. This was great in the 60s and 70s and allowed drivers to obtain opportunities that they might otherwise not have gotten. James Hunt was known as "Hunt the shunt" and probably would never have received a chance if not for the private team of Lord Hesketh.

The teams should be wary of their wish to expand the number of cars they can run. BRM was done in, at least in part, by running as many as 5 cars. It diluted their resources to the point that none of their drivers were competitive as the cost of so many entries meant that updates were too expensive.
The costs involved in running a third car would be cost of parts plus driver. Design and tooling being two of the largest costs in the manufacturing process. Heck, Williams could probably build a spare couple of cars from all the remnants of their exisiting chassis. There would likely be a cost of drivers, and therefore possibly race entries.

I am not adverse to this as a suggestion, but the rules would need to be set so as not to unfairly disadvantage a team who could not run a third car. The main issue I can see is the number of cars that will be allowed to enter.

Could we possibly see customer cars?
I would like teams to have between 1 and 3 cars, with privateering also allowed. However there was a time when if a privateer stayed in the race they had half a chance of a point, now they would be lucky if they finished 20th. And what of the number of cars on the grid - would pre-qualifying have to make a return?
I think it was a mistake for HRT to attempt to run more cars than they can manage competitively - i.e. more than none.

I like the neatness of 2 car teams. In general I'm sympathetic to opening things up, but unless you have customer cars there's no financial benefit to running a single car; third cars would be more likely to go to the rich than the deserving at the moment, and the potential for race fixing would increase exponentially. So overall, I'm not in favour.
Here is my idea:

Keep 2 car teams. Each team gets to select two Grands Prix each season to enter a third car. The teams would probably choose either home GPs, or races at tracks where they think the driver's talent will show or their car will be extra competitive. Thus teams can at least get some sort of indication of how their guys will do without the grid being packed.
I'd love to see three car teams for two very simple reasons. It would lift the quality of the grid but more importantly it would give new young drivers a better opportunity to develop their skills by having the opportunity to work within the top teams and alongside some of the leading and experienced drivers.
How about you can run three cars but only the two which qualify highest on the grid are allowed to race? Could be interesting if the "number 1" stuffs it in a wall in Q1.
The Pits,

Actually, the cost would include: cost of pit crews (training, housing feeding, benefits et. al), plus add 50% to upgrade costs as you now have to include 50% more cars. It seems to me that the only cost that WOULDN'T increase is development.
siffert_fan I missed the pit crew, but the costs are not simply 50% higher, as I stated, the largest costs are R&D and tooling, once these are done, the manufacture is actually quite cheap in comparison, most teams already carry a number of spares of key components anyway, once you have the patterns and templates, everything else is simple (Relatively speaking) There are many other costs to think of which I am not intelligent enough to think of, but an extra car would not be simply 50% additional costs, except in the manufacturing only,whihc is not the largest chunk.
Plus a bit more sponsorship perhaps for having three cars out there in practice and quali and three drivers (ok they have three now with test guys but the third will get much more attention) all with the logos on them
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