Will all of the new teams survive to the end of the 2010 season?

July 28, 2010

Is Bernie Ecclestone the Nostradamus of Formula 1? Photo: Jenkins, Pasternak & West

Bernie Ecclestone seems to have a knack for predicting the future in F1 (although like other great forecasters of the future – he sometimes gets it very wrong – the British Grand Prix at Donnington, for example). He has been quoted in the Daily Telegraph as stating that he wouldn’t be surprised if ‘one or two’ of the current teams don’t make it till the end of the season. Given his prediction at last years’ Singapore Grand Prix that USF1 may not make it to the grid, Bernie’s views are normally very well informed and so are taken very seriously, given that he also made the point that he felt Lotus should remain this implies that the two teams to which he is referring are HRT and Virgin Racing. Given that HRT are having to destabilise their driver line-up in order to access sponsor’s cash, it certainly looks from the outside that the team are taking desperate measures to deal with desperate times, and therefore at some point the cash may run out for HRT. However, there does not seem to be an air of desperation coming from Virgin Racing, and Timo Glock, in particular, seems to be giving the Lotus drivers a run for their money in terms of establishing who is going to be the best of the new teams in 2010.

My preliminary analysis on race results so far is that the highest race position of the three new teams is Lotus having secured 13th place at the Austalian Grand Prix, still some way from scoring championship points and unlocking the additional funding that points scoring teams enjoy. If we score their relative results for each of the 11 races so far on the basis of 6 points for the first of the six new team cars having completed the race, 5 points for the second etc. Lotus have 56 points, Virgin 55 and HRT 51, so not much to chose between them on this basis. If we look at the starting grid positions, awarding points on the same basis, then Lotus have 115 points, Virgin 73 and HRT 43. So, at this point in the year we have a clear running order: Lotus, Virgin and HRT. Bernie appears to be suggesting that the financial longevity of the teams is in a similar order, with Lotus being financed for the long run by Tony Fernandes, Virgin Racing have a medium term business model which is dependent on the Virgin brand being used to attract new sponsors and partners and HRT appear to be currently underfinanced and are having to resort to race by race funding strategies to keep the cash flow positive. In the past Mr E has himself stepped in to support struggling teams such as Minardi, in his interview with the Telegraph he suggested that the new teams were already costing him (ie FOM) a lot of money, without much to show for it in terms of media interest and spectators, maybe he’s signalling that they need to be strengthening their balance sheets if they wish to stay in the game, or maybe he’s already privy to one or two exit strategies.

4 Responses to “Will all of the new teams survive to the end of the 2010 season?”

  1. Matthew Wright Says:

    If you look at the situation in terms of technical partners, Lotus are adding value to their engine supplier (gaining column inches/photos etc.), Virgin are self-publicizing by using the other parts of the Virgin brand but HRT are doing nothing. With the departure of Dallara from the HRT project your forced to question their ability to produce a new car, at a time when Virgin are bring together their outfit in the name of efficiency.

    I agree that Lotus are the safest of the new teams in regards to their future, followed by Virgin but alas this feeling can not be said about HRT. I do think they’ll be at the final GP of this season, but not the first GP of next.

  2. F1 Maniac Says:

    I think I read somewhere that HRT bought Toyota’s operation and were even thinking about running Toyota’s proposed challenger for 2010. Them buying the defunct Toyota might explain the extra cash they need to run the cars and hence Yamamoto’s continued drive.

    I have my doubts about Sauber for next season, they have a good car but seem to be unable to attract sponsors, I wonder how far along their 2011 challenger is.

    I’m just glad Renault have shown well this season, a poor showing from them might have seen the end of the Renault name as a manufacturer from next season.

  3. Tom Hitchings Says:

    I thought the FIA got rid of the rule requiring teams to score points in order to qualify for WCC funding, and agreed to give it to all teams, based on highest classification if necessary (if no points scored)?

  4. Mark Says:

    Hi Tom, the exact formula is shrouded in mystery, but my sources suggested that although the new teams have got some money from FoM, if they make the top ten they get a lot more, apparently Richard Branson had picked this up, and has been pushing Virgin to make 10th place.

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