This week the news hit us fast of the demise of Marussia and Caterham in Formula 1, with both teams being absence at this week’s USA Grand Prix and their futures with the sport questioned. With this happening, Sauber, Force India and Lotus were threatening to boycott, claiming that small teams were struggling for a reason, and that reason being finances. The boycott has come about after serious accusations that the bigger teams in the sport have an ‘agenda’ to push the smaller teams out, with one team principle asking for a financial overhaul, encouraging equality for all teams after the possible departure of the smallest teams in Formula 1.
So far we are close to losing two teams, Marussia and Caterham. Caterham were the first to go into administration, with clear financial problems from the start. Japanese driver, Kamui Kobayashi has his seat offered to those who could afford it for a race and there were rumours of the seat being offered up again during the season, but unfortunately, they would run out of money before this time. Caterham’s 2014 season was not a good one with 12 retirements in 16 races and no championship points to their name. The team owes roughly £16.2m to a possible 400 parties and were locked out of their offices in Oxfordshire earlier this week as bailiffs reclaimed the site on which they make the car.
Next look at the story of Marussia’s season whose driver line-up included Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton. For spectators, the drivers were a fan favourite with Bianchi links to Ferrari’s young driver program and the Brit Chilton who rose from GP2, despite their lack of competitiveness with the top teams, they are a popular team. Come Monaco, we didn’t expect, but loved, that Bianchi would be the first to score points for the team, finishing 9th overall. But things turned quickly for the team with many retirements and Jules’ crash in Suzuka. With one driver down, the team suddenly hit rock bottom and went into administration. It was so sudden, my partner and I were shocked.
So what does all this mean for Formula 1? Firstly it means an 18 car race this week in the USA. F1 veteran Jenson Button stated during an interview with Sky Sports that it will ‘become easier’, but then went onto say he ‘wants the challenge, it’s what he’s here for’. Rumours also suggest that a 14 car grid may be possible for 2014, with almost all small teams struggling with finances during this difficult time in the sport. Formula 1 works in a simple and unfair way, if you have the money, you can have a great car and I for one want this to be changed. I want the small teams, because often they provide the racing in a top team dominated race and also spices up the championship, with the battle between Force India and McLaren fighting for 5th place this year. Boycotting, however, is not the solution. Regulations in Formula 1 do also state that in order to be entered into the championship you are establishing (Article 13.2 (f)) “an agreement by the applicant to participate in every event with the number of cars and drivers entered,” with punishment from a fine to disqualification being threatened. Marussia and Caterham have been reminded of this but have been given ‘pardon’ from Ecclestone until they find new buyers.
Both teams have 2 weeks to find a new buyer, other wise its goodbye to the team, forever.