F1 boss Ecclestone would welcome customer cars in 2017
May. 22, 2015
MONACO (AP) — Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone welcomes the idea of so-called customer cars, and says they are a financially good idea despite concern that such a move could weaken smaller teams.
A move to customer cars would feasibly see Mercedes, Ferrari or Renault — which currently only supplies engines — supplying their F1 competitors with chassis and engines. Such a move would not be possible until 2017, when the sport's next set of rule changes come into place.
It would potentially empower the big teams even more amid ongoing concerns about costs and wealth distribution.
"I've been pushing, pushing, pushing for single chassis, single engine," Ecclestone told reporters at the Monaco Grand Prix. "So you do that with four or five teams and you leave the constructors alone. You let them do what they want to do."
Mercedes is the runaway leader in F1 in both the drivers' and constructors' championship, meaning that teams would likely all want to be a Mercedes customer if this move was put into place.
Ecclestone played down those fears.
"You would make all the chassis the same, and then we would do a deal with one of the engine suppliers. It should work," Ecclestone said. "Not Mercedes, somebody else maybe to make the chassis, and do a deal for the engines — Renault maybe."
Ecclestone, whose Formula One Management group is the sport's commercial rights holder, would be prepared to help interested teams.
"We'll also supply two chassis, complete, by the first of January (2017) for 15 million dollars," he said. "We'll pay. If it costs more, we have to pay more, if it's less, that's good for us."
Such a move has yet to be officially discussed, and was not on the reported agenda of talking points at a strategy group meeting held last week, which involved six teams — including Ferrari and Mercedes — Ecclestone and the sport's governing body, the FIA.
"We could make this happen if we made a big enough effort," Ecclestone said.