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Customer cars: a panacea or a burden for smaller teams?

Can customer cars, paired up with a sensible budget cap, help smaller teams in their attempt to surviving the Coronavirus crisis? Let's find out.

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Customer cars: a panacea or a burden for smaller teams?
Fuente imagen: Hasan Bratic

Has F1 reached a point where its Titanism between top and small teams ceases? Due to the Coronavirus crisis, Liberty has run for cover through a $1.4 billion cash injection to some outfits to overcome the financial difficulties encountered over the past two months.   
The FIA also did its part, with the introduction of a new clause, stating that under exceptional circumstances rules can be changed with a majority agreement.

Discussions on the 2021 budget cap are still ongoing, with top teams lead by Ferrari are still reluctant to lower it any further than $150m. However, making a dent in costs can significantly help smaller teams stay afloat at the end of 2020.

Concerning data from the Daily Telegraph report that the seven UK-based teams employ 4,276 staff and they are estimated to lay off 1599 of them to meet the budget cap. Hence the urge of coming up with an out-of-the-box solution to produce a sizeable cost reduction.

Customer cars paired up with a rationally sensible cost cap, as stressed by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, stand for a valuable crisis antidote.

"It would be the cheapest way to address their issue, their plight, and the quickest way to be competitive as well” he told The Independent.
Smaller outfits would operate as mere race teams with a limited development budget, estimating a comfortable $80m cap. Half of the grid (namely Alpha Tauri, Williams, Alfa Romeo, Racing Point, Haas) would be adequate candidates. For instance, in Williams’ case running customer cars would halve their costs. According to Formula Money, such a dramatic reduction applies to the other aforementioned teams, producing an overall save of $350.1m out of the $750.1m amount of current costs.

This precautional (yet still utopian) counter-measure to tackle the Coronavirus crisis in F1 would not be ‘sacrilegious’, as Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto told The Guardian. His highly controversial interview to the British media outlet winded up in the eye of the storm due to veiled quit threats. After clearing the air over the matter, the Italian team principal focussed on the customer cars topic. He appears not to be against it, as it is a widely-spread approach in the contemporary era of motorsports.
However, small and top teams have not managed to compromise in the budget cap power struggle. As much as staying true to the F1 DNA is respectable, avoiding to annihilate the soul of smaller teams can still be regarded as a valid point. Both voices aspire to be heard loud and clear, amid raising concerns as the financial crisis bursts.

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