BMW M3 DTM concept car

Why are car makers shunning F1 for other series?

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BMW M3 DTM concept car
BMW M3 DTM concept car

During the height of the economic crisis in the late 2000s, several car manufacturers ended their F1 programmes to save money.

Honda scrapped its F1 effort at the end of 2008, following just three seasons as a full team having taken over BAR. It joined Jaguar, who exited the sport four years earlier.

In 2009 two more jumped ship: BMW and Toyota. The former, like Honda, had only been running a team of its own since 2006. Toyota’s departure came off the back of its second most successful season in eight years in the sport.

In recent months several major car manufacturers, including some of those above, have announced new racing projects. Here are a few of them and where they will be racing. The question is, why have they chosen these motor sports and not F1?

Le Mans

Porsche 911 GT1-98, Le Mans, 1998
Porsche 911 GT1-98, Le Mans, 1998

The Le Mans 24 Hours appears to be gaining the most new manufacturer interest at present.

In June Porsche announced it will return to the top level of competition with a new LMP1 prototype in 2014. Porsche is the most successful manufacturer at Le Mans with 16 outright wins in the race.

Volkswagen Group stablemate Audi became the second most successful manufacturer when it won the race for the tenth time this year. Interestingly, the signs are the parent company will allow the two brands to race each other in 2014.

President of the Executive Board at Porsche AG Matthias Muller said: “For us it was only a matter of time before we returned as a factory to the top league of racing.

“The success of Porsche at Le Mans is unrivalled. We want to follow up on this with the 17th outright victory.”

Last year there were rumours Porsche was considering an F1 return. It originally competed in F1 with its own team in the sixties, scoring a single win at Rouen in 1962.

It built the TAG-branded turbo engines which powered McLaren to a string of world championships in the eighties. But a return as an engine supplier in its own name in the nineties failed – the Footwork team abandoned its V12 unit halfway through 1991.

Other manufacturers have been tipped to return to Le Mans in the near future including Jaguar, which was active in F1 from 2000 to 2004.

Peugeot, Audi and Aston Martin already compete with cars in the LMP1 class. Toyota are engine suppliers and Nissan are as well in LMP2. Ferrari, BMW and Corvette have factory teams in the GT class.

FIA president Jean Todt, who enjoyed success at Le Mans with Peugeot in 1992 and 1993, is investing considerable effort into this long-neglected form of racing. Next year a new, FIA-endorsed World Endurance Championship will begin, two decades after its predecessor, the World Sportscar Championship, collapsed.

DTM

BMW M3 DTM concept car
BMW M3 DTM concept car

BMW will join Mercedes and Audi in the Deutche Tourenwagen Masters – DTM.

This is a significant boost for the touring car series which has featured only two manufacturers since Opel quit the championship at the end of 2005.

According to BMW Team Schnitzer boss Charly Lamm, a key part of the attraction of racing in the DTM is the opportunity to use cars based on roadgoing models:

“In no other production racing series is the level of performance of the race cars as high as in the DTM. The entire field is extremely close. For each team it is a challenge to face up to the competition.”

BMW also wanted to compete in a series in which their major rivals in the premium car market were also present.

BMW was an engine supplier in F1 from 1982 to 1987. It returned in the same capacity in 2000, before taking over Sauber and running its own team from 2006 to 2009.

IndyCar

Takuma Sato, KV Racing, Edmonton, 2011
Takuma Sato, KV Racing, Edmonton, 2011

IndyCar will have multiple engine manufacturers next year for the first time since 2005.

Existing engine supplier Honda will be joined by Chevrolet and (Group) Lotus.

The latter, of course, sponsor Renault in F1. They already back the KV Racing team, who Takuma Sato drives for.

World Rally Championship

Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Volkswagen Polo R WRC

Volkswagen Group’s head of motorsport recently suggested one of its brands could enter F1 in 2018.

That’s a long way off, and Volkswagen’s new World Rally Championship effort will be up and running long before then. The Polo R WRC is due to start competing in 2013.

Volkswagen management board member Dr Ulrich Hackenberg said: “The new technical regulations of the World Rally Championship are an ideal fit for Volkswagen?s philosophy with respect to the development of production vehicles.

WRC cars use 1.6-litre engines with direct injection and turbochargers. Hackenberg added: “Downsizing, high efficiency and reliability are top priorities for our customers.

“The timing of the WRC debut is optimal for Volkswagen. The big task of engineering a vehicle that is competitive and capable of winning at a large number of challenges holds great appeal for us.”

Why not F1?

Nick Heidfeld, BMW, Interlagos, 2009

With many car manufacturers getting back into motor sport it begs the question, why not F1?

As the recent changes to the planned future engine rules have shown, F1 teams are keen to court interest from car manufacturers, who bring substantial budgets to the sport.

Speaking at the FOTA Fans Forum in June, Ross Brawn said: “The new engine creates a fresh opportunity for manufactures to come in.”

Have they got the technical formula right? The more open technical rules at Le Mans, which encourages competition between petrol, engine and hybrid cars, seems to be more appealing to many manufacturers.

There’s also the ever-present question of costs, and which series offers best value for money. The rate of development in F1 and the scale of the calendar are considerably greater than many other championships.

This is where striking the balance between freedom in the technical rules and the ever-present urge to contain costs are in conflict. The technical specifications of F1’s new engines for 2014 are very tightly restricted to keep development costs down.

Jarno Trulli, Toyota, Suzuka, 2009

Aesthetics clearly plays a role as well. Some car manufacturers want to race cars which are visibly similar to their roadgoing models. F1 car design is so wholly given over to the pursuit of performance that this simply isn’t possible.

The car manufacturers which have become involved in F1 recently have preferred branding arrangements instead of building their own cars or engines: such as Infiniti’s tie-up with Red Bull and Group Lotus’s with Renault.

Why do you think car manufacturers are picking other forms of motor racing over F1? Are there lessons for F1 in what other series are doing?

Does F1 need more car manufacturers – or are they just ‘fair-weather friends’ who will come and go as it suits them?

Have your say in the comments.

Debates and polls

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Images ?? BMW ag, Porsche ag, Volkswagen, IndyCar/Shaun Gritzmacher, Toyota F1 World

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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125 comments on “Why are car makers shunning F1 for other series?”

  1. I feel that it is about value for money, fundamentally the cost to compete in F1 is not marginally, but more likely several fold more than the other series.

    Equally, the fact that nobody can tell who the car maker is without seeing the branding will make a huge difference.

    Having said that I think that F1 remains the huge spectator sport that it is due to the “dream” that many of the fans want to have. Somehow it is not the dream of any F1 fan to charge a Toyota Prius around the streets of Monaco.

    1. Yes. F1 is more expensive than other series but eventually ROI is not different from other series, I’d say less funds to run a team are the trigger. When you face a financial constraint and you have to choose between to equally low profit operations your decision breaker will be “how much money I need to invest”.

      Some teams are still making money, but is there much more available? I’d say no, probably money flowing into big cats is crowding out the rest of the field.

  2. I think road-relevance is the key. Aesthetics isn’t something I’d thought of before but it makes sense.

    Changing the engine regulations really wasn’t enough. They’re quite restrictive, so what’s the point when there are other 1.6L turbo categories out there?

    Apart from the engines, I’m not fussed at all about manufacturers in F1. The usual tactic is to come in, spend loads and if it doesn’t work, pull out. Mercedes are doing it slightly differently but one wonders how long they’ll keep it up if results don’t come in. Yes, we have seen many an F1 teams go under from a lack of outside funds. We’ve also seen a lot of manufacturers pull out because they didn’t want to continue spending those funds.

    1. I think road-relevance is the key

      True. Right now only high end sports car manufacturers are truly gaining from the sport. Ferrari and Mclaren have been around F1 because they can use not just the technology developed in F1 on their road cars, but also because F1 features the fastest cars on the planet, which is similar to what Ferrari and Mclaren aim to do with their road cars.

      I guess further green initiatives might attract Honda and Toyota back to the sport, and turbo engines might get Porsche back, but as the sport stands Ferrari and Mclaren seem to be the two teams that have the most to gain and know that they want to remain in the sport.

      1. I think most constructors find it hard to market their road cars as sisters of their F1 machines. McLaren and Ferrari build super cars “only” and should more easily associate their road car to their fellow single seaters.

        1. I think most constructors find it hard to market their road cars as sisters of their F1 machines

          I always wondered why Toyota even had an F1 team. As you say, most manufacturers in Formula One have fast road cars to promote (Mercedes with its AMG division, Renault with Renaultsport etc.) but Toyota didn’t have any cars in its line-up it could sell on the back of motorsport (aside from, at a stretch, the MR2). I remember during the BBC coverage of the German GP in 2009 that they did in feature where Timo Glock drove Lee McKenzie round the Nordschleife and the car Toyota gave him to tackle that great circuit with was a Yaris!

          On the brand awarness side, there was interview with Renault-Nissan’s CEO in this month’s CAR magazine where he said that by Infiniti sponsoring Red Bull, it would raise their brand awarness in Europe from 2% to 4%…

          1. Whoops – my attempts to use the blockquote function failed miserably….

          2. Have you not heard of TRD?

          3. Brand awareness is key, and F1 fans have no problem with identifying manufacture brand with driver with other stick on sponsors on the car.
            Cost of entry should be lower no matter the manufactor (exotic or economy)- look at fiat in Le Mans, they seem to get Audi a run for their money- Many manufactors are stepin into the luxury/exotic industry (Lexus(a toyota) with the LFA supercar for example) and Cadillac competing with European Sport sedans since 2004 is rumor to enter F1 in 2012..its pure R&D, like any other series.

      2. I think FIA is restricting the rules in wrong areas. They should lock aero rules and unlock engine development.

        Spec front and rear wings alone would do a lot for cost cutting. Other aerodynamic elements could also be tightly regulated. Manufacturers are not interested in aero development and frankly, neither are most of F1 fans.

      3. Douglas 62500
        5th August 2011, 16:30

        That would be a great thing to happen really, as the stories of both the two Japanese teams ended in a disaster. Toyota came out worse, with their potentially title-winning TF-110 left dusted at Cologne, and Honda.. oh well at least the RA109 got to be raced as Brawn and won everything, but as a result both Honda & Toyota probably lost millions worth of publicity for 2009 (honda) and 2010 (toyota).

        1. The Sri Lankan
          7th August 2011, 22:59

          “potentially title-winning TF-110 left dusted at Cologne”

          that TF110 gives me shivers when i think about it

    2. I’ve always though manufacturerss should stick to making engines for F1 cars, rather than getting involved in developing and testing an entire car. Unless that company makes noting but supercars, like Ferrari, it makes sense for them to stick to engines, leaving private and independent teams of motor racing prosessionals to build the cars themselves. I’d rather see “Prodrive vs Williams vs Manor vs Ginetta vs Pescarolo” than “Renault vs Mercedes vs Volkswagen vs Ford”

      Thats how it used to work, wasn’t it?

      1. When I first started watching, it was Ferrari v Williams v McLaren v Benetton v Tyrrell v Jordan v Minardi v Ligier v Sauber v Footwork v Forti. Engines included Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault, Ford, Yamaha, Honda, Peugeot and even Hart.

        Now, things are a little like they used to be. The only real “loss” has been from Benetton to Renault and Tyrrell all the way through to Merecdes. But a few years ago there was Honda, BMW and Toyota. There was engine diversity, but only because of manufacturer diversity too. All three of those engines have since disappeared.

        F1 needs a good healthy balance with mostly privateer teams and different manufacturer engines. That we have one and not the other points to a failure in the rules.

      2. Depends how far back you want to go. Manufacturers like Alpha Romeo and Mercedes were dominating grand prix racing before it became F1.

    3. Road relevence, or lack of, is a key part to this argument. People wont buy a car based on F1 or the teams there. Not people on working incomes anyway.

      I recently traded my Hyundai Coupe for a Seat Leon FR. Petrol to [turbo] diesel. Why? aside from the costs, il be a lier if i said that Le Man didnt have some infuence on me, showing me that the performance gap in the 2 is minimal whilst the later runs a lot longer on 1 tank, which is important in a world of increasing fuel costs.

    4. I agree, Road relevance is high in Le Mans, where companies can showcase their high performance and high efficiency Diesel/Petrol/Hybrid (and possibly even EV engines can be added to that) according to what they want to highlight.

      It is high status, the cars can link to real roadgoing cars optically as well. And a lot of the safety aspects etc. make for good showcasing as well.
      I also think the endurance aspect of the racing works well to show it lasts on the track as well.

      And touring cars are great for having a car that looks like the original, what makes for better PR.

    5. Great article, Keith! It shows that you really feel the pulse of contemporary events and produce articles that become hot discussion topics in no time. I have so many points to comment on, really don’t know where to start!

      PORSCHE
      Porsche really deserves the highest accolades in four wheel sport, simply because of their pioneering models in sports car endurance racing. The Porsche 917 range of sports prototype racers from 1970-73 are still considered the ultimate racing cars ever!

      AESTHETICS IN F1
      I believe aesthetics are important. This is the main reason why I want to see wide-track racing cars and fatter rear tyres in F1. The cars would look so much better. I watch F1 races on my laptop (with the TV tuner card) and the resolution is really. I enjoy that since the F1 and GP2 cars look really wide then and the tyres really fat.

      WHY ARE CAR MAKERS DITCHING F1 FOR OTHER SERIES?

      The answer – F1 has become too much of a kind of stereotyped racing, with stereotyped sop-go kind of racing tracks, and rules that really make F1 racing more like protptype racing – single tyre manufacturer, same kind of engine, and same kind of circuits.

  3. Don’t forget Mercedes. They’ve recently become a works team after a long time as an engine supplier. Merc, of course, have a history in F1, and I don’t know of them really having any racing teams apart from here. Perhaps someone could confirm/correct me here?

    1. they race in DTM i think

      1. oh and there SLS is in the gt3 i think, or something similar

    2. They are one of the DTM teams. They produce SLS’s for the GT2 class.

    3. several times at le mans including the infamous flipping CLR and of course DTM from 1999 – daimler benz aquired 51% of AMG in 1999

    4. And the factory that produced “Ilmor” engines for Indycar now produces the Mercedes/McLaren/Force India engine.

      1. After being an Ilmor customer Mercedes bought a controlling share some years ago.

  4. Great article, its makes a good point, id love to see more manufactures in F1, but with 24 cars already on the grid, it might mean the demise of current teams?

    small typo too,

    Speaking at the FOTA Fans Forum on June

    should be in i think

    1. Fixed, ta.

  5. To be fair one of the closest motorsport series is the V8 Supercars. At any given race cars normally run within 1 second of each other. Also although rummerers Audi and Mercedes have been mentioned to enter the 2012 season with the introduction of a new car base called the Car of the Future.

    1. Shades of NASCAR, I have no interest in V8 supercars because they no longer represent the technology of the cars they resemble, just as Nascar left real cars behind decades ago.

    2. Wow! The German onslaught would make the already delicious V8 Supercars racing series even more exciting! But will this Car of the Future make all the competing cars similar, like NASCAR? That would be totally silly. I believe touring car series should have production-derived chassis.

    3. Yeah, I’m Australian and I won’t watch the V8s. Where’s the thrill in watching a battle between cars that are carefully constrained to have equal performance?

      Motor racing must be about proving whose car is best – that’s the whole point, historically and from a marketing perspective.

      1. Well it would settle down the nagging questions whether Vettel is a good driver, Hami is better than Alonso etc. etc. It depends where your focus is. If you mostly care about drivers, then stock car racing is logical. If you are into technology, F1 is logical.

  6. Because the cost-benefits in F1 are not good enough for manufacturers. The restriction in the rules also play its part, I guess.

    I doubt Porsche for instance what’s to build a V8 only for F1, where they cannot put one in their beloved 911s.

    Also, F1’s hardly green. I guess manufacturers are thinking much more on that, so they are trying to come up with new solutions, and F1 doesn’t allow that.

    1. Plus, you don’t buy a “F1-like” car. You buy a “WRC-like” car (the C4, Fiesta, Polo), or the DTM cars.

      That’s marketing. Just putting a Volkswagen badge on an open-wheeler won’t do it.

      1. Absolutely right, Fer no. 65

  7. I think that ultimately the fans who go to the races and drive the cars on the road can relate more to the forms of motorsport that use race versions of real cars.

    I can see my Fiesta, albeit a very exaggerated version, driving in rallies all over the world, yet F1 cars just look like fighter jets with wheels. (and Indycar and LMP cars are not too far removed)

    But rallying, touring cars, and GT racing all take place in cars that at least look like what you can drive on the road. The GT3 series seems to be thriving, manu manufacturers have entered that sereis recently,, and fans can see the car they possibly drive themselves, and it spurs them on to follow the series and support their team.

    And although the badges sit proudly at the tip of the nosecone, there’s no Mercedes or Ferrari, and definately no Renault that look, feel, sound or drive anything like a model of theirs you can buy on the road.

    It doesn’t help that the other forms of motorsport are far far cheaper than F1, and with on 12 or 13 spaces available in a single series for the whole planet, F1 is incredibly exclusive too.

    And how BMW have stayed out of their national touring car series for so long when the only other 2 competitors are their 2 main rivals is beyond me. I also heard Nissan were planning to enter the DTM at some point as the German DTM and Japanese Super GT specifications come together in the next few years. Can’t wait to see that.

    1. That’ll be great. The mighty GTRs against the mercedes bmws and audis. Certainly a prospect to look forward to.

      I understand manufacturers wish to place vehicles that resemble their road cars into the motorsport arena to show off their products. However, i think they should wake up and realise that success in F1 will not only be more widely seen, but will also be seen by many as a greater achievement, more impressive. Okay, so not everyone understands the complexity and challenge in getting to F1s peak, but I still believe a significant number of people will recognise there is a lot of skill needed to win in F1.

      Any manufacturer can cobble together a GT car out of their road car that theyve spent years honing in, but not everyone can build something as complex and different as an F1 car. Being successful in F1 could be great marketing for manufacturers. While it fails to highlight the strengths of their road car, what F1 does is show that that particular manufacturer is skilled in complex design. The public should become aware that any manufacturer in F1 has a wealth of new data that could create superb road cars.

      I just think the manufacturers are underestimating our intelligence. They think we will only be convinced into buying one of their road cars if we see said road car flying round a track. F1 has the potential to bring far more attractive marketing propositions to the table that the manufacturers assume we are not conscious of.

  8. I think it’s because they can’t innovate. All innovation is a sin and must be BANNED in the eyes of the FIA.

    1. e.g. Road relevant technology.

    2. You’ve hit the nail on the head there mate; why would a manufacturer spend tens or hundreds of millions of pounds developing an F1 car when none of the technology will ever make it onto their production vehicles and when any new technology they developed would be instantly banned by the FIA ?

      1. @Beneboy, even worse if they build a dog they will get negative publicity (think Honda pre Brawn) but if they build an unbeatable winner they can expect a message from the FIA along the lines of “Ferrari is faster than you, please confirm you understand this message”

        1. +1 :-)

      2. The Sri Lankan
        7th August 2011, 22:44

        that’s what i’ve been saying all this time – F1 just cant promote innovation in any way. i always thought that manufacturers

        1. The Sri Lankan
          7th August 2011, 22:50

          sorry about the double post – that’s what i’ve been saying all this time – F1 just cant promote innovation in any way. i’ve always thought that manufacturers should be able to develop in heir own accord and help their selected B-teams to keep them up to speed. but this needed to happen from a manufacturers perspective too. it wouldnt make any sense for toyota to run two teams , to only sports tune a prius. however i do think that TF110 in toyota’s garage is a massive missed oppertunity. even though the LFA had been sold out, with the possibility of the TF 110 winning races and the LFA’s debut in 2010 brand awareness alone wouldhave done wanders for toyota…

  9. Depends on the series. For example touring-car series are clearly attractive because they are road-going models racing. Same for WRC.

    The road-going relevancy also goes deeper than just the looks. In the BTCC for example, there are petrol, diesel and gas fuelled cars all racing in the same category. Toyota is quite far along into bringing a hybrid powered car to the grid. In essence, manufacturers have a bit more freedom to actually try stuff. Compare that to F1’s engine freeze and it’s a difficult sell for manufacturers as a breeding ground for their road-going models.

    For Ferrari and McLaren it makes sense. But their road-going models aren’t exactly your average common-as-muck Polo or Corsa for which the only link with aero is that they use that sort of knowledge to keep drag down to make sure fuel consumption stays low.

    I still think F1 have got the rules the wrong way around when it comes to cost-saving. I also think that budget caps are one of the easiest things to regulate. In my world, F1 would be:
    (let’s assume a £50M budget cap):

    All the teams who wish to enter, are to hand this money to the FIA before entry closes. This is the account each team will use to pay any and all bills including wages excepting perhaps drivers’ base rates (drivers bonuses are to come from budget). Set in stone are the minimum weight of the car, the amount of downforce the car can create at top speed, engine size, amount of fuel used per weekend and number of tyres used per weekend. That’s it. Have at it.
    Develop all you want, but at the end of your money, you’re not travelling anymore because that costs money so you’d better have built enough of a points cushion that allows you to miss a couple races. Etc.

    1. Toyota is quite far along into bringing a hybrid powered car to the grid.

      In the BTCC? I thought there was just a couple of privately-run NGTC cars.

  10. Interesting article, My thoughts would be that its mostly around the cost issue that is not attracting more manufacturers. They will look at the cost VS benefit graph and see its probably not worth it, as lets face it unless they come in and do well (which is unlikely straight away) they will largely go unnoticed and not get much TV coverage by hanging around near the southern end of the midfield?

    Also Is F1 the rightful place for car manufacturers in terms of their Eco friendly plans going forward, they can hardly say “save the plant drive a Prius” on one hand then on the other go and burn 250 litres of fuel in 90mins for sake of us petrol heads getting our fix on a Sunday afternoon!! In 2011 with fossil fuels running out and all car manufacturers using Eco friendly/Green credentials to entice customers to buy there cars I am not sure they want to be that hypocritical. Ferrari/McLaren being the exception to some extent as they only make “SuperCars” which are not exactly eco orientated cars in the first place so no worries of being construed as hypocrites.

    The other thing is also how resricted F1 is becoming, in their eyes they may see F1 slowly moving to being “GP1” where every car is the same, Manufacturers want to be unique and develop their machinery to be the best it can be for the benefit of transferring technology to their own road cars and some of the other Series’ are still able to give them that level of freedom to be unique and represent the brand. :)

  11. I think there are many reasons, but the main one is that F1 cars aren’t particularly relevant to current production road cars.

    In fact I would go so far as to say I don’t think there are any parts of a modern F1 car which relate to their road-going cousins. The engines are different, the aero is different… They may be able to lear a few things which they can pass through in a watered-down fashion, but nothing they can particularly say “We got this from F1”.

    As with others on here, I think part of the problem is how restrictive the regulations are. They stifle any innovation, so the teams end up looking for millisecond gains from tiny tweaks to the aero packages… not something a road car will ever need.

    My own personal oppinion is they should free up the regs. Take engines: One team wants a V6, one wants an I4… why not let them? If they placed a limit on fuel use for the race, as far as I am concerned this would be about all they needed (maybe a fuel flow limit too). If a team wanted to run on diesel, why not? Why not bio-ethanol, or H2?

    The current limitations will deter most mainstream car manufacturers, as they become nothing but brand-publicity. They cannot show off their current road-going tech, which is what (I believe) most car mfrs want to do.

  12. One of the big reason is money! Toyota, BMW & Honda lost many in F1.Secondly as Keith pointed out “Some car manufacturers want to race cars which are visibly similar to their roadgoing models.”

  13. This is good analyis of the current trends. VW’s comments are interesting here and another important vein of the analysis.

    VW’s F1-rumor-generatng comments have been the effect that, after we finish up our plan to become a Toyota/GM/FIAT level manufacturer, i.e., in terms of volume, we might get into F1. They are putting their resources into world domination now, and F1’s benefits—marketing, “goodwill” for brand, technical development, training—don’t aid world domination.

    Furthermore, if you look at how they do spend their Duetsch marks, its in LMS, where they run diesels plastered with comments on how efficient the cars are.

    Additionally, VW’s move toward galactic empire must bridge a fundamental change in the passenger car market—toward alternative powertrains, radical reduction of vehicle mass, and new electronics. So they want to know that F1 will even be remotely reconcileable with that market in 5 years time. Even BMW is breaking off a new brand, “megacity” to sell (the horror) front-drive cars and electric vehicles. The Honda pull out kind of underlines the point, because they decided that F1 only made sense as a “green” marketing platform, but F1 was then basically hostile to that ideal.

    My sense is that VW, BMW, even U.S. makers may take a shine to F1 again when we see regs that resonate with their boards who are thinking of how to survive the coming market change all day. That might be, say, small turbos, diversity in fuels, hybrid drivetrains, a freer hand in electronics.

  14. It’s too hard.
    Toyota were going to win the WCC and WDC, they spent over a billion dollars and never won a race. It would be a brave CEO that commited to an F1 program now, I think merc only did because they thought they were buying a champion driver/car out of the box….

    1. This – the reason they leave is because its just too damn hard to win. EJ was moaning about how long its been since McLaren won a constructors championship (1998). That’s how hard it is for a constructor.

  15. Money and relevance is the keys. Simply F1 costs too much. Even if they input huge amount of money, it doesn’t guarantee success. Toyota, Honda, BMW all failed. Well, at least Honda and BMW got 1 victory each but it’s not enough to justify huge budget. Only Mercedes succeeded during menufacturer days via Mclaren and Brawn. They remains while others pull back but their works team is struggling.

    Relevance is also important. F1 is too different from road car. Well, it could improve brand value but it’s only the case when they can win and they usually couldn’t. GT and DTM are much closer to road car. NASCAR is hardly similar to road car in terms of technologies but it looks like road car. If F1 is cheap it would not be problem but it’s not cheap.

    Region interest also very important. Indy car and NASCAR have huge influence to North America market. Japanese like their Super GT. DTM is famous of Germand premium menufacturer. F1 is world sport but it’s quite European-oriented. Two world’s largest car markets are North America and China. Americans are not interested in F1. Chinese are a little bit more friendly but not much different. F1 is the most popular motorsport in the world but outside Europe, it’s not the most popular one in most country. Many region prefer their national GT-like series because it’s much cheaper and effective on marketing.

    Cost reduction is not enough. Becoming rules more strict, harder to win. In the past, for example when Alfa, Mercedes, Maserati succeeded, they can win by using their superior engine or chassis technology. But now some innovations and ultimate efficiency can make difference. It’s very hard and takes very long time. Despite of it, cost reduction and strict regulations must be continued because F1 costs too much.

    I’m a big F1 fans but I can’t find a strong reason to attract menufacturers from F1.

    1. I think manufacturers are there not only to make money but also beacause they like to compete. The same lover for motor sport we find in any F1 lover can be found in random executive. As long as they can pay for their vices they will stay in the game.

      1. of course. but F1 is too expensive to pay sometimes…or many times? maybe they love competition but there’s always huge pressure that “you have to win. Unless, we can’t give you money.” Sometimes there’s certainly an age that you could continue competition even if you couldn’t win for a long time. In 2000s, car makers had enough money to be patient for a while. then the depression has come they ran of money. The age is gone.

        In 1950s, manufacturers can win with their superior technology. In 2000s, it was impossible. Relevance is not just about exterior. Manufecturers’ failure means F1 technilogy has become too far original. Many restriction didn’t help them too.

  16. if you look at how they do spend their Deutsch marks

    Haha ==> Euros

    1. That’s how we old folks talk, OK. Anyway, stay tuned, after the various national EU baillouts, and you may be digging those Marks out of the sofa to get a coffee!

      1. I’ve got a 50 French Franc note sitting at home. I did consider eBaying it, but they’re not even worth 50 Fr any more.

  17. For me it’s the way the rules are designed, the key differentiator in F1 is aerodynamic efficiency, he with most downforce wins, simple as.

    All the manufacturers know how much money Toyota threw at F1 for little success and adding in the new resource restriction agreements make buying success not an option anymore. Even the combined £500m combined annual spend of Ferrari and McLaren hasnt been enough the past few seasons to win any championships.

    So if a manufacturer cant guarantee any sort of success then the only thing to make F1 worthwhile would be the development race surely? Not unless VW are planning some major aerodynamic upgrades to any of their road cars any time soon. I mean, they could build an engine then not be able to develop it for a few years until the next rule change, develop a seamless shift gearbox which might make it down to your top sports car one day, invent something innovative which will get banned the following year because it costs other teams money to develop to catch up?

    With the whole series being based on making the best interpretation of new aero rules set out every few years I dont see why manufacturers would be interested either.

  18. in F1 tons of money is spent on aero compared to other things, aero dictates the car development… if somehow aero is restricted heavily & development is allowed on everything else… manufacture teams will comeback. f1 is fun for only aero loving guy.

  19. I think a portion of it is that in F1 it takes time to come and develop a top of the line car. You have a team like Mercedes languishing being beat by 3/4 other teams most of the races.

    In Sports Cars, you maybe have a year of development time and you can have a front running car without as much development cost as F1.

    Porsche’s last LMP2 car in ALMS was competitive with the Audi’s basically out of the box. And at the same time Acura’s LMP2 was competitive as well.

  20. The car construction rules are so confining that F1 has been reduced to a virtual spec series. And the 2013 formula appears to be worse if anything. The manufacturers have seen what the Car of Tomorrow has done to competition (and attendance) in NASCAR, most realize the folly of F1 continuing to evolve into a spec series and want no part of it.

    Unless the FIA pulls their head out of their keester, overcomes their phobia of the teams with the deep pockets and allows them to innovate once again, F1 has seen its best days.

    1. MVEilenstein
      4th August 2011, 16:50

      COT was the single worst decision Brian France ever made.

  21. I’m sorry, I don’t buy the road relevance argument we hear time and time again from manufacturers. I just don’t. That Polo R WRC will be a specialist rally going machine and will have absolutely nothing in common with the road car. DTM cars are also so far removed from their “production car bases” that they may as well be powered by kryptonite. Le Mans prototypes are just that….prototypes with absolutely no road going equivalent.

    The primary drivers for a manufacturer entering any form of motorsport is money and prestige. They enter the sport where they can get the biggest bang for the least buck and that is why they are steering clear of F1. It’s too expensive, cars take time and money to develop and get up to speed (the new teams, BMW from 2006-2008) and the competition is fierce, so manufacturers go elsewhere. It’s that simple.

    1. Good point, but look at how BMW describes the DTM car as a “production” car. Obviously a ridiculous description. It’s still important to say, this car you see on the track, that’s like your car. BMW want’s to be able to park a racecar in mall as a promotion and say, now everyone run to the dealership and get you one of these awesome “production” cars. Nevermind that your 3-series is only like a DTM in that both have four wheels and taillights.

    2. I disagree with you on the WRC car not being road relavent part. The chassis is the same as the road going car, and the rally car itself has to be road legal to travel in between stages for pete’s sake – I seem to remeber Sebastian Loeb having to pull out of a rally once because the police would let him travel on the motorway whilst holding the door shut.

      1. In addition, the rally components are largely improved versions of what the top-end roadgoing versions have. They’re not completely alien to the car the way F1 components would be to most road cars below about £100,000.

      2. They have to be road legal in the sense that they have doors, headlights, mirrors, licence plates etc, but I remember seeing an article that said that the Ford Focus WRC shared one common componment with the road car, and that was the windscreen.

    3. Quite. F1 isn’t about relevance, it’s about escapism. It’s a form of entertainment that shouldn’t remind us of the mundane, it should elevate us above it. Grand Prix at its best is about speed, danger and glamour, not Vauxhall, Renault and Chevrolet.

    4. spot on, it is the cost and it is justifying that spend to your shareholders.
      F1 is just too difficult and expensive to be competitive.
      What is Citroens budget for WRC, what is Audis LMP budget? Talk about bang for buck over the last 10 years!!!!

  22. There are numerous issues which make entering F1difficult for any organisation.

    1. The daily rate of development is intense. This means that the best you can do if starting from scratch is to get the tech rule book and build your first car. Then see where you stack up in testing. You will be miles off the pace regardless of budget simply because there is technology and knowledge in use in F1 that simply aren’t found anywhere else, certainly not to the same extreme which means lots of catch up. The latest and best thinking is top secret amongst the top teams and the only way you can get your hands on that info is to poach a top line design team.

    As a new outfit, you’re not going to attract big name designers unless you achieve solid midfield status within 2 or 3 years. The only way to do that is to buy an existing respectable team but if you there aren’t any for sale you have to start from scratch and the boardroom doesn’t like to watch it’s BMWs, Toyotas etc running around at the back at a cost of $500m a year because they just can’t figure out why everyone else is so damn fast. The manufactures of course know this, although they would never admit it.

    Volkswagen is waiting until 2018, is that when Adrian Newey’s RBR contract expires by any chance?

    2. Manufacturers are listened to more by the governing authorities in other forms of Motorsport. Le Mans, DTM, BTCC etc are sympathetic to the manufacturers needs for their racing to have a tie in with the core business of road car manufacturing. F1 is not and never can be because nobody wants to go to Morrisons in an open top single seater with the kids sat on the engine cover in their ballet shoes whilst shouting “are we nearly their yet” through their in helmet intercoms.

    3. F1 is and should remain a “what if” venture. It’s about radical thinking and design on the very edge of what is possible technology wise. This carries too much uncertainty for a car manufacturer. Sure they let you look at a prototype at the Motor Show but they’d never dream of driving it, certainly not on the telly. What if it didn’t work? How embarrassing. What would the world think if VW or Audi ran round at the back of an F1 race and then broke down? The need to maintain corporate image, marketability and above all an air of success holds sway, F1 endangers that.

    4. The Longview of the car manufacturers does not work for F1. Look at Toyota for example. They would oftentimes come out of the blocks with a podium contending car at the start of the year but they didn’t react. Instead of developing the pants of the thing and making it into a winner they seemed to promptly march towards the back. Then the next season starts and it happens again. What was going on? Did the board in Japan say “just makes sure you get it right next year” or something?

    There’s no room for remote boardroom management of an F1 team. They have to have the freedom to spend $100k here on a bit of carbon or a million there on something else at a moments notice. They have to react constantly and waiting for the “ok” form the board in Tokyo or Stuttgart or wherever is suicide. By the time Mr. Toyota had signed the cheque for development stage one, Mclaren and Ferrari are on stage 3 or 4. The manufacturers know this too but they just can’t let go and leave the team to work autonomously. Mercedes benz are possibly the exception here.

  23. It just occured to me… what are those “Lotus” engines in the back of the IndyCars next year going to be? Lotus traditionally used Ford, Rover, and Vauxhall engines before switching to Toyota powerplants for recent models.

    So is the Lotus IndyCar engine going to just be a rebadged Toyota? Apparently not according to the 2012 IndyCar Wikipedia page. It’s going to be a joint venture between Lotus and Engine Developments Ltd… better know to the motorsports world as Judd.

    And we all know how good Judd engines are. I don’t think a Judd lump has ever powered anything to any sort of victory, ever.

    1. A Judd powered car won the 2006 ALMS LMP2 championship, and I think Judd powered cars won every race in the 2006 LMS LMP1 championship, bar Le Mans where they were second to Audi in a Pescarolo.

      1. Hmm, Wikipedia says the team running the Judd engine in the LMP2 class of the 2006 ALMS came 4th of 8, with the Judd-powered in the LMP1 class coming 6th of 6. A Penske Porsche won the LMP2 class that year.

        Either way, I know they never had a good career in F1

  24. I think that manufacturers have seen instability in the rules and regulations of F1 and how they are or are not administered as a detriment. Stability in this regard would go a long way. Manufacturers have also witnessed FOTA threatening to leave F1 in recent years. There’s the global recession of course, which makes it hard for manufacturers to justify the expense of F1, and I also think that some of them might not be that impressed with the venues/markets that BE has been entering.

    North America is a huge market and although one could argue they have their own series’ and tend to care less about F1, the fact is that there is still a big following of F1 in the US which will get bigger once there is a race back there again in Texas, and the point is that car sales are huge in the US. Manufacturers need exposure in that market. That is why pressure brought on by the teams caused BE to back down on his exhorbitant financial demands in Canada to the tune of half of what he was initially demanding, which was going to see the end of F1 in NA completely.

    So in a globally unstable economic environment car manufacturers are inevitably looking for best bang for the buck for their advertising dollars, and other series’ are far less complicated and expensive and far more stable than F1 has become.

  25. Its good to have car manufacturers in F1 but the sport shouldn’t be bending over backwards to attract them. F1 is about the pursuit of speed. The cars are one-off prototypes and always have been. Arguably that is one of the appeals of F1 that you CANNOT buy the cars and they are so different. Car manufacturers are firms and their main priority is the value per share, not F1. I would be cautious to introduce more “road relevance” to F1 just to attract manufacturers. We have other series for that and in terms of technology overlap they will always be more relevant than F1 no matter what f1 rule makers do.

    And remember the garagists and privateer teams of Britain beating the industrial might of Ferrari and Maserati? those were the golden years and it weren’t car manufacturers winning the trophies. Actually, these private teams that started out only racing in f1 eventually set up companies and started building road cars. To me that seems preferable to the opposite trend of a large corporation using F1 to boost their brand (and leave as soon as things get tough).

  26. UKfanatic (@)
    4th August 2011, 16:46

    F1 adverstising only makes sense for afordable car companys, if not, it is non-sense, its too much work and too expensive, who is going to buy an bugatti if they win in F1 ?. Renault was massively succesfull in Spain, mainly cause of Alonso but nontheless because most people can afford to buy Renaults.

  27. Chris Goldsmith
    4th August 2011, 16:52

    I think the points about road relevance and costs are very accurate. F1 is the most expensive way to go racing, and while the level of technological sophistication is greater than any other form of motorsport, it exists in a technological bubble with almost nothing which could be of use to a road car manufacturer. Ferrari and McLaren may be exceptions to that, but there are almost no other manufacturers creating those types of cars who would particularly benefit from the PR which F1 participation would generate. F1 can also be spectacularly bad for your reputation if you’re not seen to be able to compete with the big boys, which is why motor groups are currently splitting the difference by placing their names on a number of different cars, both in terms of engines, and in terms of chassis.

    Those are all very good points, but I think the other side of this is the atmosphere of Formula 1. It’s a sport which is always bogged down by politics, and has a general air of an exclusive clique, and competition doesn’t necessarily guarantee your entry into the in-crowd. And it’s clear that in F1, if you don’t play the politics game, you’ve got almost no chance of success. It’s also a sport which is massively governed by self-interest, and seems almost incapable of making a decision and sticking to it. Building an F1 car is one of the hardest technical challenges any team of engineers and designers could possibly face, yet it’s matched, if not surpassed, by the far less quantifiable challenge of ‘playing the game’ and gaining the requisite political influence in F1 to really gain a foothold.

    And when you could just go racing sportscars instead, for a lot less money, with a lot less politics, and potentially gain more positive exposure for your products, it seems like an absolute no-brainer. You wouldn’t touch F1 and its erratically moving goalposts with a ten foot propshaft.

  28. Simple, because F1 cars are nothing like road cars. It doesn’t help drive sales as much as saloon car racing does. People can relate to the cars they see on the track to the ones in the showroom.

    Aside from that, the obvious is money, i don’t know how much DTM costs but i’m sure it’s less than F1 and will probably get them as much exposure in Europe as F1 would.

  29. So we’re making a lot of sacrifices for nothing?

  30. After F1 the series I watched the most is the BTCC, which is gaining more and more new models each year. Chevrolet, Honda and Ford have works teams, and that’s no surprise since the BTCC is cheap and yet it is still an effective marketing and engineering exercise. The rules are a lot more relaxed so teams can improve their engines and setup of their car easier. Take the Volkswagen Golf for example, they came from pretty near the back of the grid to scoring points in only a couple of events. If that was F1, they’d be consigned to the back of the grid for the whole year because they wouldn’t be able to make the changes that get them further up the grid so quickly.

    How many new cars have entered the BTCC recently? Toyota, Proton and Audi have re-entered as privateers, and Ford and Vauxhall are introducing new cars to the series this year. Skoda and possibly MG will join in 2012, MG possibly as a works team. Even if these new cars come in to privateer teams, the manufacturers will be monitoring their efforts closely with the possibility of offering factory support in the future.

    It’s great how similar the cars are to road cars, one of my friends mentioned how similar the BMW was to their car, and if I see a blue Chevrolet Cruze on the motorway it looks so similar to the car driven by Jason Plato. Most of the parts on a touring car are interchangeable with a road car.

  31. Too much expensive to have a team in F1 than others sport, plus all the stupid rules that brake the development and the possible innovations of the cars, just because Bernie wants to give the teams like Force India and Toro Rosso an opportunity to be able to compete with the top teams and become like the Red-bull -.- Stupid Bernie created Red-Bull domination, because all innovations of the other teams were later banned, but the red-bul low car, aerodinamics and other were not… it’s unfair, who cares about stupid ”energy-drink” team, i just want to see Mclaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault fight for making a good car, shame for BMW an Toyota that withdraw from the sport and Honda a year before that :(

    1. i mean it’s too hard to develop a good car in F1 with so much limits, you have to gamble which development could bring you a step forward, and which not…

  32. You only have to look at what happened to BMW, Honda and Toyota, to understand why no other car manufacturers are interested in F1.

    Aero is king, and only a few teams currently hold the secrets to making their car go faster by aerodynamic means. They aren’t about to give those secrets or that experience away just so Toyota, BMW, et al, feel that it’s safe to go back into the water again. Teams like Team Lotus, Virgin and HRT aren’t slower because their engine isn’t powerful enough, they are slower because their car is more difficult to push through the air whilst, at the same time, supplying a reasonable amount of downforce.

    So if you want to blame anyone for the lack of interest in F1 at the moment, then you only have to look at the ones who have most to lose by taking the one thing away from them that they won’t allow to be taken away.

  33. So, in a sense, F1 is currently a total farce and a complete charade, because it’s dominated by the one thing that means so very little to most petrol heads.

  34. Saying that absolutely nothing on an F1 car can be found on your road going vehicle is, I think, a little disingenuos. Sure, the engine is absurdely efficient, and lasts a whole lot less time, the gearbox is alien, and the overall design philosophy of the car is completely alien to your 1.8 parked outside.

    But, the fuel is so similar to your normal unleaded that you could run is, and I daresay the same goes for the engine oil as well. For all you know the exhaust could have been influenced by F1 exhaust design etc. etc. Nobody cares about that.

    For most people, transferable technology is how the car looks, its drivetrain, the chassis, and the tyres. Which means that even though Shell unleaded fuel at the forecourt really could power a Ferrari with some altered engine mapping, you dont care since it costs half a pence more than the garage down the road.

    F1 is already pretty road relavent. To the oil companies at least.

    1. I think the problem is that in F1 the technology is so alien as you put it.
      It is so expensive, so efficient and so expensive that it just can’t be very relevant to road cars, but over time it is. The turbo era is some of the reason that so many of the modern road cars are able to run turbo engines without blowing up in a cloud of smoke. The high revving V10 engines developed better cam shafts, the carbon fiber monocoque is slowly being “common” in very high end supercars, flappy paddle gear boxes. Things like that, but it takes a lot of time for the technology to be cheap enough and for the rest of the car to be capable of withstanding it, before it gets into sort of normal road cars.
      For a company that makes family cars and some sports cars it is hard to argue that it is sensible to spend 10 years or more in F1 before they can claim that their road cars has become better because o