No doubt in common with many lifelong followers of motorsport I frequently find my mind, when it ought to be concentrating on other things, drifting off to ruminate upon the current lows and woes of Grand Prix racing: the total domination of the Big Four (a 100% winning record in more than the last one hundred and fifty races); the rather patchy performance of the midfield teams; the precarious existence of the tail-enders; the ingratitude of teams which dismiss winning drivers; drivers whose budget exceeds their driving ability; off-track squabbling more befitting operatic singers than sportsmen, etc, etc.
At the root of many of the current difficulties is one of mankind’s oldest problems: money, and its abundance in certain quarters and scarcity in others. Any solution must, I submit, address and try to redress the underlying uneven distribution of money.
It is not often that one manages to come up with the bones of an idea, easy and cheap to put into effect, which could at a stroke right some of the wrongs, in particular throwing a lifeline to the struggling tail-end teams while simultaneously producing more competitive racing — but 1 would like to propose such an ideal.
All teams would be required to declare their total income from all sources at the beginning of each year. A team with x-million pounds (I will not hazard a guess at actual figures but respectfully ask Mr Mosley to add flesh to these bones) would run just one car. Those with more money, perhaps 1.5 or 2 million pounds would be required to run two cars. Those with proportionately more money would simply be required to run correspondingly more cars. Such a scheme should provide relief for the lesser teams by enabling them to concentrate their efforts on just one car and might perhaps even prevent their demise while applying pressure on the affluent to provide more. There would be more competitive machinery on the tracks —
not just today’s eight favoured seats. Frank Williams might even have been spared some agony and been able to run Hill, Coulthard and Villeneuve — perhaps even Mansell and some juniors too. The paranoia of being Schumacher’s teammate would be reduced if he had two or three teammates. Sporting attitudes might even return.
There are two main objections to the idea. Firstly, I have no doubt that the big teams would protest, if not bellyache, at the infringement of liberty in being compelled to provide more cars. There is no substance to this argument as compulsion — to run two-car teams — already exists and is accepted. Furthermore, the fat cats could always reduce their liability by limiting their income, a move which should improve cost efficiency and give sponsors better value for money.
Secondly, some Formula One teams have a history of deceit or, at any rate, economy with the truth and manipulation of rules to gain an advantage. The declarations of income would have to be precisely defined and properly monitored and assessed. Any team found guilty of deliberate false accounting for gain would need to face certain and firm sanctions as follows: the removal of all sponsorship materials from the cars for the rest of the season (i e cheats would be visible and sponsors enraged by the elimination of their interests); disqualification from results and points dishonestly obtained; and report to the relevant tax authorities.
Jeremy Blandford, Ramberg, Norway.