A fascinating Q&A with David Richards on Autosport.com reveals a whole new perspective on the customer car issue, the future of F1’s Concorde agreement and the commercial viability of today’s racing teams.
In it he says that he’s still hopeful that Prodrive will be able to compete as a F1 team – but the conditions will have to be right for the project to have long-term commercial viability, rather than being done on an ad-hoc basis.
He says definitively that the team will not be racing in 2008 but he is hopeful that an entry in the 2009 championship will prove to be viable.
He also describes customer cars as a way of levelling the F1 playing field and ensuring that teams towards the back of the grid have more incentive to turn up and race.
And he questions whether car manufacturers are really the best partners for racing teams when their commercial priorities potentially differ so markedly from those of motorsport.
Here is a brief excerpt from an answer he gave to a question on the customer car issue which is central to his organisation’s future participation in the series.
But we strongly recommend clicking on the link and reading the full article.
It’s an extremely interesting and informative interview, much more so than the usual run of F1 fare, and a great introduction to some of the behind-the-scenes issues.
Q&A with David Richards
I’ve always believed it is far stronger if you have a more balanced approach and allow the smaller teams to have access to competitive equipment and a more sensible distribution of the funds that allows them to perform to a certain level. The solution whereby you allow the leading teams to sell their cars in their entirety to the smaller teams is an obvious way of going about it.
Sure, there are other solutions – and I’ve heard the arguments for all sides — but the system we have today clearly doesn’t work. We don’t have a full grid of competitive cars, and we have teams that are not financially viable at the back of the grid. It is a problem, and how do you go about solving that?
The FIA’s solution was very sensible and logical. There are the purists who say they don’t believe that’s the right solution, and I acknowledge and respect their views on that. But I don’t hear from them any alternative solution — we can try and drive costs down in other ways, but that’s a long-term process and, to date, it hasn’t been successful either.