FIA considering tender for new Formula 1 teams

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Formula 1 could be set to welcome more teams to the grid in the next few years after FIA president Jean Todt revealed in an interview that he is considering opening up a tender for new projects.

The FIA last opened up a tender at the end of 2013, with NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas winning the bid to get a team on the grid for the 2016 season.

F1 has encountered a number of problems in recent years due to financial uncertainty, with Caterham and HRT F1 Team both collapsing since 2012.

Marussia appeared to be going the same way as its fellow minnows after entering administration last October, but has since found fresh investment and is poised to join the grid for next weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

Speaking to The New York Times, Todt said that although he did sympathize with Caterham and Marussia, their stories would not deter him from opening a tender for future teams.

“I am not happy for Marussia and Caterham and I sympathize for them, but it has always happened,” Todt said.

“In 2016 we have a new team coming, and we may make a tender again for one or two teams to encourage teams – and try to reduce the costs.”

Cost control has been F1’s biggest problem in recent years, with a proposed cost cap of $50m in 2010 being rejected by the sport’s more powerful teams.

Nevertheless, the decision was taken in 2014 to overhaul the technical regulations, with the cost of the new engines prompting many to question whether it was the right move.

The hybrid power units have come under fire for their cost and their functionality, but Todt believes that it was crucial for F1 to set an example to the car market that is becoming increasingly efficient.

“I feel it is one of the few sensible decisions which has been taken over the last period,” Todt said. “Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motor sport, so we must be an example to society.”

One of the other contributing factors to the sport’s financial crisis is the fact that only the top ten finishers in the constructors’ championship receive prize money. Although this does foster competition, it also means that those towards the back end of the field face a huge challenge to simply survive.

Should a tender be opened and the grid swell to 12 or 13 teams, it would perhaps be wise for the sport to review its prize money structure and consider other commercial changes to ensure that a full grid is able to race for years to come.