Force India team principal Vijay Mallya has expressed his opposition to customer cars – and says there are still many questions to be answered about how the concept would work.
Mallya says that the cost issue is unclear, and that it would be impossible for a customer car to be as competitive as a works machine.
“I have never supported the concept of customer cars,” Mallya told this writer. “If the big four who control the majority of the Strategy Group are going to virtually drive out the small independent teams and then fill up the grid with their own customer cars it remains to be seen how attractive it will be to the audience, what the costs will actually turn out to be, and more importantly how can a customer car be as competitive as a constructor’s car? What about upgrades? What about the time lag in delivering upgrades to the customer?
“There are so many pending issues which people don’t seem to examine in detail. There’s just one sweeping statement, ‘customer cars,’ with a view to perhaps answering the inevitable question, which is if the small teams disappear, how do you fill the grid?”
Meanwhile Mallya is adamant that the Strategy Group is not working, and says that the big teams are simply looking after their own interets.
“The Strategy Group is nothing but the four big teams deciding the way that the sport has to move forward. And everybody is protective of their own corner, their own interest, and that’s it. One has to just learn to live with this situation, however unacceptable or impractical it may be.
“There are meetings that don’t produce any results, no cost cutting measures, nothing that will really seriously address the sustainability of F1. So until the big four teams take responsibility for the sport as a whole, as long as they continue to guard their own corners, nothing’s going to happen.”
2 responses to “Vijay Mallya: “Everybody is protective of their own corner…””
Mr. Mallya, couldn’t agree with you more!
What should be of concern to the rest of the paddock is EXACTLY what Mr. Mallya is referring to; none of the advocates of customer cars has published the nitty gritty of how the concept will work. They undoubtedly have a working framework on paper and their lack of willingness to publish can only be a bad omen for the rest of the teams.
As long as FI, Williams, and Lotus can stand firm against the customer car process there is a strong chance of defeating the initiative.
The more I think about it, in the current environment, a customer car would not work. Imagine Ferrari or Mercedes setting up a customer program with one customer each. Then Mercedes does in 2016 what they have done in 2015 i.e. turn up with the dominant car. A lock out of the front 2 rows and a compliant customer who settles for third and fourth!
I was swung by the following concept, where two or three customers all got the SAME chassis/engine combo. Somebody like Dallara would build the car for a fixed price (just like GP2) and then all get same engine/PU.
I’m probably being naive, why buy a customer car so that you can never really challenge the front of the grid? Further, if the customer car was competitive in the mid-field, why would Williams, Sauber, Lotus, Force India want to stay in the sport as a manufacturer, with all of the hassles and costs?