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F1 in 2013: Are team number changes and thorough calendar shake-ups to be expected?

A pertinent question within the Formula One world at the moment is about the number of teams lining up in Melbourne at the start of the season in March – an issue compounded by the departure of the Spanish ran HRT team early last month.

Bernie Ecclestone has stated that he could wish to see as few as ten teams in the 2013 season whereas there are currently eleven teams shortlisted. The Spanish team’s departure has occurred due to financial issues, as they are going into liquidation and appear unlikely to find a buyer.

Bernie has stated that he has always preferred ten teams on the grid and that 12 was never a number he felt comfortable with. HRT was one of the three new teams introduced in 2010 under Max Mosley’s Budget-cap initiative that never materialised. Subsequently HRT Caterham and Marussia have all been incredibly behind the pace of the front runners and neither has scored a single point since their introduction to the sport.

There are many arguments for lesser teams in the sport, the most relevant of which is the safety issue – the less financially solvent teams can not develop the pace of the front runners and therefore can cause collisions during blue flagged overtakes. We have seen this issue a lot this season, with Narain Karthikeyan colliding with Jenson Button in Malayasia and then Vettel in Austin, with Vettel blaming Karthikeyan for losing the lead to Hamilton.

Ecclestone’s arguments for lesser teams in F1 concern matters of transport: with ten teams in F1 Ecclestone thinks transport would be more efficient. Also with the proposed three cars a team for the 2014 season, lesser teams would clearly help in terms of transport.

There is a commercial clause that states that the grid can have no less than twenty cars at the moment, which would translate to two cars for ten teams. However, there is a proposal for three cars per team which would see this change if introduced.

Further methods of budget capping have been put in place to try to encourage smaller teams, such as restriction of out of season testing and development cost restrictions. Earlier this month Ferrari team boss Luca di Montezemolo spoke out against the lack of out of season testing stating that it harmed the technologically driven sport of Formula One.

Another of the reasons why Ecclestone wants less of the teams in Formula One is to make it easier for promoters, in terms of advertising and the promoting events.

With less teams, F1 would could see a return to more dominant seasons such as 2009 and 2011 were Brawn and Red Bull ran away with development to out-class the field for constructors and drivers championships. Lesser teams could see less of the competition we have enjoyed this season with eight different winners and a tightly fought championship going down to the wire in Brazil.

With lesser competitors there will be less opportunities’ to take the points off teams such as Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren – something that could undermine the spirit of competition as well as create a less thrilling spectacle for the spectators.

Furthermore smaller teams give opportunities to younger drivers to break into the highest echelons of motor sport with a F1 seat. For example, Marussia has confirmed that 21-year old Max Chilton will be graduating from test driver to race for them in 2013. Without as many teams in F1 we could see fewer opportunities for younger drivers to graduate to F1, which could see a lot of talent go unnoticed and less excitement for spectators, which a surge of new blood always causes.

Bernie Ecclestone’s statement came after news that the Turkish Grand Prix may not be able to go ahead in the 2013 season due to lack of funding by the Turkish government – this would mean only 19 races next season despite Ecclestones shifting of the schedule to allow for a 20th race in July.

Earlier this week Bernie also announced that Nurembring may not be able to host the German Grand Prix as originally planned due to financial issues. The German Grand Prix will definitely remain; the question is simply where it will be held, something Ecclestone says may not be decided until after the season has started.

The 2013 season is shaping up to be both great and unpredictable with a thorough shake-up of the grid and the calendar, a spectacle that is heightened by the surge of new blood in the shape of Max Chilton at Marussia, Valtteri Bottas at Williams and Esteban Gutierrez at Sauber. This rush of new talent may not have been possible with fewer teams in F1, so for now, at least, let’s hope there are no more withdrawals.

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  1. Did anyone proof read this? While many of the ideas behind it are okay the language is appalling.

    • Ah, no. I think that it’s a good article! Hopefully there will be more in the future.

  2. What an incredibly harsh and totally untrue comment. If you haven’t noticed, this is a student newspaper and not the Guardian or a fascist regime. Therefore, there is room for the odd misspelt word. I would also like to point out that you have a comma missing.
    On the other hand, what a brilliantly well thought out article.

  3. Thank you both for your comments! I appreciate both sides of the argument. I think it’s a good article and hope that, as George himself says, there will be more from this writer in the future.

    Having said this, the opinions of our readers are also important and I just want to say that we do think proofreading is essential and strive to put out the best finished product possible.


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