May 23 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone’s push for ‘customer cars’ in formula one has taken another step forward.
The issue reportedly got the green light at the recent Strategy Group meeting.
And now Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport reports that the F1 supremo, Niki Lauda (Mercedes), Christian Horner (Red Bull) and Ron Dennis (McLaren) met in Monaco on Friday.
It is believed Ferrari, with its intended ‘B’ team Haas, and McLaren, who would like to do a similar thing with Manor, are among the biggest proponents of customer cars.
“I’ve been pushing, pushing, pushing for single chassis, single engine”, Ecclestone said, revealing that the cost of buying the package would be just $15 million.
“So you do that with four or five teams and you leave the constructors alone,” he explained.
The small teams like Sauber and Force India are vehemently opposed to the idea, as they would lose their ‘constructor’ status and be left out of the new premier tier of F1.
But Ecclestone argues that a big upside to his plan is that the quality of the grid would increase as struggling teams will no longer need ‘pay drivers’.
“Instead of having to run around and find a driver who has money, they could look for a talented driver and put him in the car,” he said.
“What difference does it make what the car is? I want these (customer) teams to go racing for $70 million. Most of that money they already get from us,” Ecclestone added.
Whether the 84-year-old can get the proposal through F1’s complex, democracy-based modern system of governance, however, is another story.
Ecclestone is clearly frustrated with his loss of status as the sport’s ‘dictator’, claiming that nothing was even decided at the reportedly-constructive Strategy Group meeting last week.
“Nothing was decided,” he insists. “We didn’t even decide on the date of the next meeting.”
Ecclestone, and many of the team principals in F1, would like a return to the days when he and former president Max Mosley largely dictated terms.
“We should stop mucking about, asking opinions,” Ecclestone said in Monaco.
“I said to him (FIA president Jean Todt) the other day ‘If you come up with something sensible you’ve got my votes. Whatever it is I’ll support you, and vice versa’.
“We should say ‘These are the rules of the championship. If you want to be in it, great. If you don’t, we understand'” added Ecclestone.