FIA promises action on F1 'slave team' fears
Formula 1 race director Charlie Whiting says that the FIA is keeping a close watch on the increasing levels of collaboration between teams.
The issue of 'slave teams' came to a head during Force India’s period in administration, when Renault, McLaren and Williams all initially refused to sign a document allowing the team to keep its commercial rights.
They feared that under new ownership Force India would become closer to Mercedes, and wanted clarity on the prospect of B-teams.
One of the main concerns is that smaller teams can help their engine suppliers by contributing R&D resources, which will become even more critical as the sport enters an era of cost caps and other restrictions.
Whiting says that the FIA is well aware of those concerns, and pointed out that since Haas was formed there’s been a clampdown on how much R&D a new team can undertake before it goes racing, and which might benefit a partner team.
“It’s something that we should be concerned about, and it’s something we will be discussing,” he said. “The [Haas/Ferrari] relationship started it.
"We knew exactly how that was possible in the beginning, and there was a loophole in the beginning which has been closed to new entrants, which is what [Haas] were able to do, a lot more work than a current team, before they were established as a proper entrant.
“But the sort of things we’re hearing about are alliances between existing teams. I think that needs to be looked at very carefully.”
McLaren "very concerned"
McLaren boss Zak Brown stressed that in the context of Force India’s future he had talked to the FIA and the F1 organisation about the prospect of alliances leading to B-teams.
“I’m very concerned,” he said. “I think that’s exactly what would happen if the FIA and F1 don’t get involved, as you’ll ultimately see the big teams working more closely with the small teams to figure out a different way to spend their money.
“And that needs to be addressed and I’m glad that the FIA and F1 are well aware that that’s the direction the sport would head if they don’t do something about it. I’m very concerned, but confident they will do something about it.
“We were given assurances that B-teams are going to be dealt with because it’s ultimately getting away from what we believe Formula 1 and everyone being a constructor, then you buy power units, and now it’s just going to the extreme and that needs to be unwound from the future of F1.”
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