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It was a sunny day on July 2, 1961 at the French Grand Prix and that Sunday, Ferrari had four cars on the grid. Richie Ginther, Phil hill, Wolfgang von Trips and a man who won his very first grand prix that day—Giancarlo Baghetti.

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Baghetti entered the race in a privately entered Ferrari and the crowd at Reims was delighted to see Baghetti win his very first race in Formula 1. It was an era with loose restrictions on who entered the race and obviously so but it also proved a point back in 2011.

On November 13, 2011, AUTOSPORT ran a story featuring Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo as he was on a fresh push for three-car teams in F1. The Italian team brought the notion forth during a discussion involving the issue of intellectual property and technology being transferred between teams. For Luca’s part, he felt it was time to visit the idea of three-car teams:

“We believe the interest of the fans, media and sponsors could increase if there is a bigger number of competitive cars on track rather than cars that are two or three seconds off the pace, being lapped after just a few laps.

“As an example, remember in 1961 Giancarlo Baghetti won the French Grand Prix at Reims with a privately entered Ferrari. There you are, it would be nice one day in the future to see one of our cars running in American colours, or Chinese, or maybe those of Abu Dhabi.”

At the time, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said he didn’t think this would become a reality unless the series started losing teams—and that’s the key point in this quote:

“If by chance we lost a couple of teams then I think it will probably be good.

“But the other teams don’t like it. You can imagine if we have got three Ferraris, three Red Bulls, and three McLarens, it is not so good for other people.”

While McLaren’s boss, at the time, Martin Whitmarsh was against the idea and so too was Williams F1’s Sir Frank Williams, Ferrari were keen to give it a whirl. Today, the issue has raised its head again with Ecclestone commenting on the issue of small teams possibly leaving F1 due to financial restraints and soaring costs to compete in F1:

“They must stop. If you don’t have the finances, you quit.

“I’m ready for a Formula 1 with eight teams with three cars each.

“Is it better to have a third Ferrari or a Caterham? Ferrari could maybe find new sponsors in the USA and an American driver: fantastic. It is the same for the others.

“Take Caterham: it has invested lots of money and it would need just as much, so it looks for paying drivers. What for, since it has never been competitive?”

Ecclestone chose his words carefully when suggesting that he’s ready for eight teams. Rumor has it that Caterham and Sauber could be in dire straights as well as possibly Marussia and Lotus but those are rumors and no one has access to their financials to definitively know for sure.

Is the idea of a third car off-putting to you? Would it be better to see 16 cars with closer competitiveness compete in F1 rather than 6 cars toiling round at the back trying hard to disappear when being lapped? Has F1’s regulations missed the balancing needed to keep teams closer and how can a team who spends $100 million expect to have enough regulatory balance of power placed on a team that spends $350 million? Is that fair? It is in the United Sportscar Championship.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Alfred

    Its so expensive to race in F1 that you could literally BUY the entire Indycar series.

  • Rapierman

    You do need your Davids to show up the Goliaths every once in a while. You do need your Dudley Do-Rights to upstage the Snidely Whiplash’s on occasion. There’s always a need for the small fry to beat out the big guy because that’s….as cliché as it sounds…..”Truth, Justice and the >insert your country here< way". Those of us who don't make as much money as those who make more need the psychological uplifting event that says we can do anything we want if we try hard enough and beat those who are above us and get our day in the sun just like everyone else, because we're "Everyman" (TM). So, in a way, competition, including Formula 1, has a touch of morality play to uplift the spirits of humanity, even the least of us.

  • Ground Effect

    It seems the FIA has done a much better job of regulating LMP1 power units than F1 power units. The diversity in design in the LMP1 power units and the roughly equal power and driveability after FIA energy supply regulatory adjustments seems to work well and attracts additional power unit suppliers. If the LMP1 and F1 had the same power unit specification with perhaps additional energy used in F1 that would seem to be a plus to both classes. Perhaps they could talk the United Sports Car DP and Indy Car regulators into compatible power units to perhaps allow a Chevy power unit in LMP1 at LeMans and F1 at Monaco and a Ferrari power unit in LMP1 at LeMans and at the Indy 500. Honda will be in both F1 and Indy Car next year already. Toyota and Nissan will both be in LMP1 next year as well as Audi and Porsche, how could Honda and Mercedes and Ferrari resist that?

    • Subsitution of one set of rules with another set of rules is in my opinion not the way to go (would just add more costs).

      Also I imagine that endurance racing would need different requirements then F1 (otherwise why have endurance racing at all?)

      Less = more, so less rules please.

  • MIE

    I think Ferrari may need to ‘re-evaluate. This season with twelve Mercedes powered cars, and three Red Bull’s, would they have very many points?

    Be careful what you wish for.