Honda F1 website

MAY 15, 2007

Bourdais, Toro Rosso and Todt Jr

Sebastien Bourdais is back in a Toro Rosso-Ferrari tomorrow at Paul Ricard - and there is no doubt that the team already has an option on his services for 2008. That option has yet to be taken up but obviously the tests are the next step in the process.

In Barcelona, however, there was a potential new element to the story with whispers that Nicolas Todt and his partners in the ART GP2 team (and the ASM Formula 3 team): Frederic Vasseur and Bahrain Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, may be negotiating to buy Dietrich Mateschitz's shares in Scuderia Toro Rosso. This would put them into partnership with Gerhard Berger.

That may not seem to make much sense given that Mateschitz has created a situation in which he can run two teams for more or less the price of one but there is a bigger picture that needs to be examined as F1 moves into a new era of four-car "super-teams". This is an inevitable result of the rule changes that have taken place in recent months. If testing is restricted and teams are allowed to sell cars to customers, it is only a matter of time before these "super-teams" emerge. With testing mileage limited, the team with the most number of cars is going to make more progress. Thus it makes sense to have customer teams running the same equipment so that data can be gathered. Thus there will either be close alliances between constructors and customer teams, or there will be four-car teams. Theoretically, Red Bull and Toro Rosso should work together, while the other emergent forces will be Honda with Super Aguri, Williams with Toyota and McLaren with Prodrive. That leaves BMW, Ferrari and Renault all needing to do a deal with Spyker, with the losers ending up unable to ally with one another.

In order for all the manufacturers to each create a "super-team" things have to change. It makes a great deal of sense, for example, to have an alliance between Red Bull and Renault. This would would expand the current relationship, produce funding for Renault and reduce Red Bull's need to run a team, gaining the advantages of F1 without needing to be involved in a business which has nothing to do with selling drinks. Thus if Mateschitz sold Toro Rosso to Todt and his partners, they could ally with Ferrari, which would be an extension of the current engine deal. This makes sense geographically and with one Todt in Maranello and another in Faenza, the link would be suitably close. This would mean that the sixth super-team would have to be cobbled together between BMW and Spyker.

All of this depends, of course, on the rules remaining as they are but, as we have seen in recent years in NASCAR, if these restrictions exist, the results are inevitable.