Posted by FerrariFan on March 11, 2007

rb-str.jpgRed Bull – Spot The Difference Contest? -win the grand prize (front row seats for two at court room in Lausanne for Williams & Spyker Vs. SA & STR)

There is just one week to go for the start of the 2007 F1 season, but what is F1 without controversy. So the customer car row looks all set to dominate race weekend proceedings, but Colin Kolles wants to keep us guessing. “I cannot tell you what will happen for the moment, because some people are expecting some things. Sometimes it is better to keep quiet and come with something that they are not necessarily expecting” he says, which is rather counter-intuitive because it is going to send the concerned parties thinking out of the box now. Gerhard Berger will no doubt be asking himself “What are we not expecting and should we be expecting it?”. All fun, bring it on.

The gist of the customer car row (just in case you were hibernating through it all) is that there are some teams that feel you cannot just share the chassis of another team and pass it off as your own, and there are some others teams that feel you can. Each team must design its own car and hold the intellectual property rights to it – sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? But of course Formula 1 team bosses are all major exponents of the policy –  “Give me a law and I will find you a loophole”. Now according to Autosport, all this deals with Concorde Agreement and not with the FIA official rules, so there won’t be an official protest. Just the legal action then. The only bummer here is that no one really knows what the darned Schedule 3 of the Concorde Agreement says as it is protected by a confidentiality clause, so we will just have to take their word for it. This is what Berger has to say – “There is a different interpretation of the Concorde Agreement and I respect very much the interpretation of Spyker and Williams, but we have our own”. And I thought the whole idea behind having a legal document and an ‘agreement’ was to remove ambiguity….if there are ‘n’ million interpretations for it then it kind of makes you wonder. Sir Frank Williams is however quite clear on the matter – “If you are a constructor, then you build your own car. If you buy one, ergo you are just not a constructor”. 

So what do Williams and Spyker want? “SA and STR should score no constructor points as they are not constructors”. But then SA and STR are not in this business for charity, and if they score no points then they make no money (though realistically, we are not expecting either of them to score a bunch of points even with customer cars). And Gerhard Berger is not going down without a fight – “If they want to take legal action, fine, we will fight it out”. The STR car design is not owned by Red Bull racing team, but by Red Bull Technology, which is an independant company led by Adrian Newey, which supposedly makes it legal. It is reported that SA will also be sharing the Honda chassis through similar measures.

What we are all expecting of course is that Spyker and Williams will be taking legal action against STR and Super Aguiri as they were unable to arrive at any compromise. With Super Aguiri (rather cleverly) delaying their car launch to Wednesday, all the action will move dangerously close to the race weekend. “If SA turns up in Melbourne with the old car, we won’t have any issues” adds Colin Kolles rather generously (now why would he have any issues with that really). It is reported that big teams like Ferrari and McLaren have given their verbal backing to Williams though they will not get directly involved. Flavio Briatore is said to be sitting tight for if customer cars become legal in 2008, it is rumored that he might not mind participating. Of course Max Mosley has been stirring the pot with his B team proposals – it is one thing to have all cars be competitive on track, it is another matter entirely when one begins to think of all the potential scope for team orders. What a Pandora’s box that would be.

If this matter goes to court, it is bound to get messy with a long arbitration process in the offing. Customer cars would make it easier for new teams to enter F1 with lower levels of investment not running into hundreds of millions of dollars, but Sir Frank says “Why should David (Richards) come in with an investment of about £20 million quid while every other single team have worked their bollocks off to pay their bills? We’ve made Formula One without him. What commitment has David shown by buying his car?”. He also says chassis sharing without revenue consequences will kill independant teams.

This is all very new of course, because usually whenever we have something majorly controversial come up, there is Ferrari or Michael Schumacher involved. So it is quite a novel experience not to be vehemently defending concerned parties and to just sit back and watch it unfold. We will keep you posted, as always.


2 Responses to “The Customer Car Row Demystified”

  1. […] , F1 , Ferrari , McLaren , Renault , Formula 1  Bernie Ecclestone is being urged to end the customer car row. Now there are two kinds of customer car scenarios – teams like Honda and Red Bull that share […]

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