Start, Circuit of the Americas, 2018

Todt pushing to expand F1 grid to 12 teams

2019 F1 season

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FIA president Jean Todt wants to increase the number of teams in Formula 1 but is facing resistance from the sport’s current competitors.

For the third year running just 10 teams will participate in the new F1 season, which begins this weekend. In an interview with Sky last week Todt admitted he wants to increase that number.

“It’s always a long debate,” he said. “At the moment we have 10 stable teams.

“As you know we are talking together with the commercial rights holder [Liberty Media], with the teams, about the renewal of the Concorde Agreement [beyond] 2020. And we are considering a lot of things.

“Of course for me I think it would be better to have 12 teams. If you speak about that to the actual team principals they are not very happy about that because of course it will change financial distribution, so it will be different for them. But it’s part of the discussion.”

Todt indicated Formula One Management also wants to expand the grid.

“At the end of the day the most important is not so much the number of teams it’s the quality of the team and the quality of the show. So that’s something we do fully agree together with Formula 1, with Chase Carey, with his team and we are working very closely together.”

Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur, who told RaceFans F1’s current financial model is “unsustainable” for more than half the grid, said it would be difficult for any new teams to enter the sport at the moment.

“The situation to take over this kind of company today is… I don’t want to say unrealistic, because you will always find someone able to do it, but it’s challenging.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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  • 36 comments on “Todt pushing to expand F1 grid to 12 teams”

    1. I’d rather see 12 or 13 teams as well.
      With the 3 big ones having B teams and development drivers it seems a bit limited at times nowadays.

      It’s just up to Liberty to grow the finances of the sport so they can pay 12 teams without reducing the income per team. I would disagree though if they want to spread the current money wider. Because the consequence would be either more financial stress for some teams, or even further dumbing down (standardisation) than they are planning already.

      1. The pie is fine, and it can be distributed across 13 teams nicely. It all has to do with the insane bonuses top teams earn, leaving nothing for the rest

        1. robinsonf1 (@)
          11th March 2019, 14:56

          “CVC paid approximately £1.4bn for its majority stake. Over the next decade estimates suggest that it made up to £3.5bn. In 2014 it is reported they took in £347m from a turnover of £1.25bn”

          I would suggest that we include the owner’s slice of the pie when we discuss finances. Clearly the owners are making an insane amount of money from F1. All the while most of the teams are struggling. All the talk of budgets and struggling teams makes it seem like F1 is having a tough time, but the fact is the owners are having a fantastic time at the expense of the smaller teams.

      2. @coldfly – I’d rather see more teams as well, but what do you think the odds are?

        1) It is very expensive to join, even if a cap gets put in place.
        2) There is a steep technical curve—especially if one wants to be competitive—that even major teams (McLaren, Williams) are still finding difficult to climb.
        3) There is zero chance of winning any time soon.
        4) Sponsorship options are at least somewhat limited.
        5) Every recent new team (since 2010) has folded with the exception of Haas—and they have massive Ferrari support.
        6) And each of the major teams already has a B team (or partner team or both); there is little chance of getting a leg up or independently moving up beyond the 7th or 8th best team—and even that is a stretch.

        Unless Bezos, Gates, Buffet or the like feel like burning a few billion to get competitive I don’t see why a company or individual would want to jump into F1 right now.

      3. We already had three B teams. Two Ferrari and a Honda.
        I don’t think Renault willing to had a B team. They didn’t have the confidence that their own B team would not better than their own. And if Mercedes still haven’t think of having B team, maybe not because they didn’t see the benefit of it but merely that they still haven’t decide to be in F1 for long.

      4. I do not like B teams. That is what F2 is for. We want real, actual different teams, not two Red Bulls and two Ferraris, just in a slightly different paint job. I would like to see Jordan, Minardi, Manor and Stewart, or some entirely new team!!!

        1. Since you think the Haas and Toro Rosso are the same as Ferrari and Red Bull, you wouldn’t recognize it anyway.

      5. Liberty will not grow the revenues of the sport. They will increase their stock price. Every business they`ve touched has been re-organized in such a manner that over-develops imaginative public perception and increases shareholder value while watering down and cheapening the product. They are finance boffins, not motorsport enthusiasts. The Netfilx series is a painful highlight of that. As it was not a big coup of any relevance to have had it made, content producers had been knocking on FOM`s door for decades. Though it is touted as this big breakthrough and that it will attract new fans & revenues. Yet, anybody that is a true fan of the sport knows that the show is full of imaginative inaccuracies and contradictions which only waters down and cheapens the product. There were so many other storylines that could have been showcased, with the same amount of drama and entertainment value, without making it look like an elitist Pawn Stars meets OC Choppers. So sure, perhaps some new fans of the lowest common denominator type yet unless the whole thing gets cost-capped and made into a higher-tech version of F2, certainly not the type which can actually spend money to grow revenues, let alone add more teams. Though Mr & Mrs Rolex will be able to buy the stock, which so happens to be up 5% today, thanks to netflix, after the bad ride it had when it was tumbled back to reality due to the most recent disclosure of actual earnings and financials to date.

    2. I would love to see more teams like Haas. Imagine 3 more teams like that? It would be wonderful. Then we just kick out Ferrari, RedBull and Mercedes.. presto Williams is still at the back but only 1s from the front, McLaren can try to rebuild their glory days from not a big gap, Renault can score some wins etc.

      FOM money that currently goes to big 3 teams could easily support 3 new teams.

    3. You only need to look at the case of Esteban Ocon to see what’s wrong with the roster of teams at the moment. There are three big teams, who have influence felt throughout the rest of the grid. Mercedes are able to place drivers at Racing Point and Williams. Ferrari can place drivers at Haas and Alfa Romeo. Red Bull can place drivers at Toro Rosso. That leaves only Renault and McLaren as teams who can pick their drivers without considering prior aleggiances. Even McLaren have a young driver programme (though Magnussen and Vandoorne might argue that it’s not a very good one…).

      Ocon (probably wisely) doesn’t want to sever ties with Mercedes which means his choices are astonishingly limited.

      We need more properly independent teams which aren’t in the back pocket of the big guns. Teams who will look at the roll call of available drivers and pick up the best available ones.

      More teams also keeps the established order on their toes, spices up the races and leads to far healthier competition. Bring it on.

      1. Great comment, @ben-n. So true.

    4. Lets see if i understand what you are proposing.
      There are currently 10 teams on the grid.
      Add 3 more new teams = 13
      Take away (kick out) MB, SF, RBR =10
      Brilliant!

    5. Why should it be up to the teams to agree with these proposals. Why don’t the FIA or Liberty just say this is what we’re doing, end of story. Surely not many sports are being run by the competitors.

      1. Whilst I agree with you, they should take the power back and grow a pair, I guess they are running scared. They dont want another Toyota, Honda, BMW situation. F1 has put themselves into this hole. Too many groups given powers ending up in a tug of war. “the show must go on…”

        1. It is even worse now than it was then. When toyota, bmw and honda pulled out you also had 4 teams coming in. Usgp, hrt, marussia and caterham. Bmw was also built on top of sauber so sauber could buy it back. Honda was willing to work with brawn to allow the team to continue. Only real loss was toyota which was not just a team but engine manufacturer as well. F1 gained two teams and did not lose 3.

          Current situation is far worse. No new teams are coming in. It doesn’t make any sense for a privateer to come in when there is massive unclarity about the future of the sport. The financial situation of f1 teams is poor due to high costs and low competitiveness. At best you wait for the new tech and financial rules before even thinking about it. And then and only then decide if you are even interested learning more about it. Privateer teams need a budget gap to make it even marginally interesting to get into f1 and so far the big teams are fighting this to tooth and nail. Their main performance advantage is money and they don’t want to give it away.

          It also makes no sense for manufacturers either. Starting a new team is just total no-go when you don’t even know what the financials or tech rules look like in 2021. You also have the sport in strange situation where the technological under current rules have stagnated. The big are at the front and the small teams at the rear. That is not changing. The big teams know what to do and do it well. There is no outside thinking or new ideas or different designs that can put you in front. And becoming engine manufacturer is a total no-go. Not only are the current engines massively massively expensive to make but the existing manufacturers and teams have a 7 year head start. The current bad engines look like they will stay so it is just bad proposition for engine manufacturers. And honda’s total failure at engine making just underlines that even further.

          Then you have the rise of electric motorsport. For pennies on dollar you get world wide visibility in formula e and you can actually start winning right away. And when it comes to holding patterns the new lmp1 rules seem to be lacking interest as well. Lots of the big manufacturers want to see that card first before thinking about committing to f1. Will the new lmp1 rules fail or win?

          You really need to dig deep and long and hard to find any reasons for anybody to think about joining f1. Last year even force india’s takeover did not go smoothly which probably served as one kind of message to anyone thinking about f1. It is not just technically a very bad idea but f1 at the moment is also very political and as a new team you don’t get a seat in many of those tables where the decisions are made.

          All this puts ferrari and mercedes in huge advantage when it comes to negotiating the future of f1. They hold all the cards, every single one. They make the engines, win the championships, spend biggest numbers to promote f1. And there is nobody coming in to replace them if they just leave. Whatever fia does it absolutely needs them both.

          1. @socksolid Yes, all valid points! Where are these “D” grade teams (Usgp, hrt, marussia and caterham) now? The model is broken and has been for a long time. I dont believe a budget cap will work. Car manufactures will hide their money & resources. I also dont believe in standardizing too many parts even though I can see the logic behind it. It’s just not F1. And then there is Liberty. I’m not so convinced they will deliver what was promised. Time will tell I guess. “the show must go on…”

    6. @Ben
      It sounds good in theory but realistically independent teams are uncompetitive. That is until they source their engines and gearboxes from say ferrari. Then the rest of the ” legal” parts they can source and all of a sudden they are in the pocket of the big guns.
      Viscous circle.

    7. I would like two or three more teams in F1, but with the caveat that they are actually able to perform and sustain a good level of competitiveness. If it is going to just be teams such as HRT, Manor, and Caterham, then I’d much rather not see any more new teams in F1. At least now we genuinely have some competition to get out of Q1, whereas previously, only one midfield contender would be eliminated in Q1, making the whole 20 minutes a snoozefest. If we can have teams who are able to join F1 and be at a decent level like Haas, then, by all means, I absolutely welcome it. It would allow more opportunities for drivers to make the step-up to F1 (or remain). I wouldn’t mind even if it meant that the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes had more “B-teams”.

    8. Electroball76
      11th March 2019, 13:48

      Some kind of Dallara Cosworth Ford sponsored by fizzy drink, chocolate and tobacco.

    9. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
      11th March 2019, 13:48

      I think we’d all see the grid become bigger and more competative

      But it’s been tried relatively recently, and HRT, Lotus/Caterham and Virgin/Marussia/Manor accumulated the great total of 3 points, and all are gone completely…

      Current F1 has more than enough trouble sustaining its current grid. Lotus nearly went under in 2015, Sauber was saved by a new owner, Force India and Manor both went bankrupt, despite the former of that pair having enjoyed a pair of rather succesful years. And now Williams appears to be in all kinds of problems…

    10. At least Williams would have a very good chance of not finishing last!

      1. One team is indeed going to finish last. Last year, this year and next.
        Under the current distribution, even if the 11th placed team earns a bunch of points, they are still 11th and out of the money.
        The $$$ distribution needs to make enough sense that that all the teams, even the last three, can sustain their existence.
        One issue that no one has mentioned for “new teams”, is testing. How can you design, develop and prepare to race against established teams without testing? Just ask Honda.
        More teams would be great. Ya got my vote.

    11. Once again, the current number of cars is perfectly fine, so there’s no absolute need for more. It’d also just mean more ‘moving chicanes’ to lap for the front-runners, so, therefore, the extra four cars would basically be nothing more than grid-fillers. Having more cars on the grid wouldn’t necessarily automatically be better overall for the competition. For example, as recently as in the early years of this decade, the number of cars was 24, but the extra cars were more or less nothing but moving chicanes to everyone else as they were way off the pace of not only the front-runners but even the latter midfield, so basically, they added nothing to the competition. #BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor

      1. @jerejj – I agree that teams should only be brought in if it makes sense. However, on your point that “the current number of cars is perfectly fine…” That is threatened. If one or two of the current teams were to drop, it becomes much less tenable.

        Mr. Stroll could decide he’s done, as could Mr. Haas. The Alfa experiment could end, RBR could decide to close both teams when their Honda pact doesn’t pan out, and Williams and McLaren have profitable businesses outside of F1 that may decide the sport isn’t worth the drain. Some of these are a stretch, but some are much more possible between now and 2021, imo.

        1. @hobo Good points those as well.

    12. Allow teams to buy a decent off the shelf package, fit in a ‘world engine’ and let them go racing.
      Not every team needs or should be required to make everything themselves.

      1. Yes, in Formula 1 they do. That’s the point of F1 and what makes it the best.

        1. And yet you probably cheered for Vettel when he won a race for Toro Rosso in a Red Bull chassis with a Ferrari engine. Customer cars used to be a thing, and were as recently as 2008.

    13. “If you speak about that to the actual team principals they are not very happy about that because of course it will change financial distribution, so it will be different for them.”

      That says all you need to know about it. It reminds me of the UK’s position on Brexit… This is what we want and this is how you are going to compromise to give us what we want.

      If those running F1 want more teams, perhaps they have to compromise and pay for it rather than the existing teams?

    14. There was a major problem with the TV broadcast when there were 13 teams: it only showed the race leaders. Only now, with Liberty Media in control of the broadcast, do we actually have 10 teams that we can see racing. There may have been more teams then, but only three of them were actually seen. The rest of the teams were ignored. It was so bad you only knew those other teams existed because of the lap time board.
      That policy meant all the teams bar the top three had to charge less for advertising simply because of how seldom they were seen on TV. The FIA knew this was happening and did nothing about it.
      There was a similar policy to the funding of teams, namely some teams got payments others never could, and new entrants got nothing from F1 for the first two years. Now add to that the new entrants got almost no air time, and that performance costs money, so new entrants were almost guaranteed to have no TV air time and were guaranteed no TV rights payout, so it was almost certain they would run at the back of the grid.
      The FIA could have and should have complained about this too, but they didn’t.
      Liberty Media are doing a far better job now than what the previous owners did.

      1. @drycrust

        Only now, with Liberty Media in control of the broadcast,

        The people running the broadcast are the same people who have been doing so since FOM took over production of the world feed for the majority of races in 2007 (And a select few starting in 2004) & in fact many were there when FOM were producing the F1 Digital+ broadcast’s from 1997-2002.

        They have gone back more towards the philosophy that was seen during the F1 Digital+ days (Show the best action regardless of where it is) but that is a philosophy change that actually started before Liberty came in based on advise from Eddie Baker in 2015. Eddie was the guy behind much of the F1 Digital+ production (Hence why the F1 Digital+ TV compound back then was called ‘Bakerville’).

    15. I would like Jordan, and Minardi come back, but the Jordan will have the yellow livery it was famous for!!! (I wouldn’t mind if it was 7up though).

    16. Nice in theory, but has there been any indication of any new teams, particularly manufacturer teams, showing any interest in joining the sport.

      No point in having an underfunded “startup” and until the new regulations and financial distribution arrangements are known, there’s no likelihood of any major new entrants.

      Hopefully the new details when they finally appear may encourage some interest, but I’m not holding my breath.

    17. Well, we only have to wait until the new regulations come into practice. The reasonable management of teams’ budgets, the fairer distribution of prize money and well-defined relationship between the constructors and the customers (the customer teams shouldn’t be able to buy more than 40% of parts) should first be established. It’s not so long ago we’ve heard about a Chinese team potentionally interested in joining and this would be great news for F1, given that the Chinese are always keen on investments. Honda would moreover take over Toro Rosso and there would be another ambitious competitor, but again, we’ll have to wait. I don’t expect any new team to join until 2022/2023 and the most important factor will be the effectiveness of the new rules. They should put them together as soon as possible.

    18. the bonus payments alone amount to over $300m. that could easily be redistributed to fund 2 extra teams. however, that would entail significant job losses at the top 3 teams, so the situation has to be managed more carefully. the talk of a glide path to a budget cap is all very well, but in practice it’s hard to see how it could be enforced. it would be better to introduce a glide path to more equitable distribution of the prize money, over 5 years for instance. teams like ferrari could manage job losses more easily (for example by not replacing people who leave/retire, as opposed to firing people).

    19. To have more teams to fight to not to be lapped many laps is quiet pointless. People should try to find some way to make the race stay at a very high level. Not only to increase the number of overtake, but also the excitement of overtake. DRS-overtake really sucks. There is bearly nothing driver can do when the DRS is on. The overtake should happen in the breaking zone or in the corners! If one team wants to join F1, they must want to show something positive. Scoring in the end of F1 is definitely the latest thing they want to do. So how to make them competitive? It is really a big challenge. So to make current 10 teams stay in F1 should be the top mission of the organizers to work for. More teams? Maybe more years.

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