Honda website
Honda website

OCTOBER 5, 2006

The question of customer cars

Sir Frank Williams thinks that Formula 1 is heading into a new fight over customer cars, saying that the plan to have cars on sale was not designed to allow big teams to expand their operations but was only agreed upon in order to help small teams survive. This is a fair point because it will almost certainly lead to small teams being swallowed up by bigger companies which will put pressure on the non-manufacturer teams. That has already happened with Minardi being bought by Red Bull, Super Aguri likely to become a Honda satellite in 2008 and Prodrive struggling to find someone to sell it a chassis because they do not want to help to create future competition. If Prodrive is willing to accept different terms it may well find what it is looking for but it seems more likely at the moment that David Richards will sell on his entry to someone else and thus make a sizeable profit.

Williams argues that the current situation is not in the best interests of the sport for the big teams to get bigger and so squeeze others out of the business.

A request from Super Aguri to allow the team to run Honda chassis in 2007 was rejected by the teams in a recent meeting and there is disquiet in the paddock about what is happening at Red Bull as the Austrian company's two teams look like running what will be very similar cars next year.

Such issues need to settled before there is a new Concorde Agreement and while the commercial rights holder and the FIA want a new deal as quickly as possible, the teams are in a rather different position. They are in no hurry to do anything as the current deal still has another 14 months to run. Somewhere down the line there will be a compromise but that is not going to be the work of a moment.