Earlier than shutting down for Christmas, and avoiding discussions concerning the positives and negatives (to not point out utter astonishment in a single case) of the workforce principal switch market, I believe it’s a very good second to handle the producer marketplace for 2026.
Within the previous days Bernie Ecclestone didn’t prefer to see automotive corporations appearing solely as sponsors. He believed that it gave them a straightforward experience within the sport. Badging engines or chassis constructed by others was solely about cash they usually all had lots it if. His view was that if a producer wished to learn from F1, they needed to do the job correctly – by making an engine or shopping for a workforce.
Issues have modified now, with automotive producers McLaren and Aston Martin each utilizing Mercedes engines in F1, whereas Alfa Romeo has been allowed to decorate up a Sauber-Ferrari and has been hoping that individuals will purchase its street vehicles because of this. It’s a cheapskate method of doing F1. Whether or not badging equipment in F1 actually works is an attention-grabbing dialogue. It isn’t in opposition to the principles and it’s an inexpensive method to get worth out of the game, though one should ask whether or not Alfa Romeo has actually gained something from doing it. In 2018 Alfa Romeo offered 83,438 vehicles. This has since dropped to 25,964 models in 2021. The bosses nonetheless discuss of 200,000 in 5 years, however let’s see what 2022 and 2023 deliver earlier than getting excited. Automobile corporations typically have expectations that they fail to stay as much as.
When Alfa Romeo appeared in F1 in 2017 there was discuss of “a long run plan” however that’s now over. The programme with Sauber ends subsequent season as Audi is in he course of of shopping for the entire equipment and caboodle in Hinwil, with plans to construct its personal engines in Germany. Good luck to them with that. Nonetheless, this technique is a little more significant than the corporate turning up in a formulation with out a lot actual opposition after which attempting to make plenty of noise about profitable it over and over.
Capturing fish in a barrel is rarely that spectacular an achievement.
Alfa Romeo must look elsewhere, and says, with the same old automotive producer PR baloney, that it’ll now “consider among the many many alternatives on the desk and resolve which would be the finest one to maintain the long run technique and the positioning of the model.”
Badging Ferrari engines just isn’t one thing that has ever labored in F1, though it did work for Lancia in rallying with the Stratos again within the Nineteen Seventies. Having stated that they weren’t competing in opposition to Ferrari itself, which in all probability explains why that would occur.
What one can say is that Alfa Romeo street automotive high quality is bettering and in principle the agency’s picture will get higher and so gross sales ought to extend. However that’s all principle for the second. Alfa Romeo is now earning money and so that’s a minimum of a begin.
Within the automotive trade there are some attention-grabbing outcomes when one seems to be at badge engineering (in different phrases, utilizing the identical piece of equipment, however giving it a distinct identify). Some consumers don’t know the distinction, some don’t thoughts, and so badge engineering is pretty widespread within the trade. It’s less expensive to borrow a profitable design than to create a brand new one.
If one believes that badge engineering will work in F1, there’s a large alternative for a automotive firm with the precise method to take F1 by storm in 2026.
Crimson Bull spent an enormous quantity to start out its personal powertrain enterprise, however that has turned out to be a really far-sighted technique. This fashion, the racers have management and we won’t see the sort of mess that there was once they have been working with Renault again within the day, or how issues have been when McLaren was with Honda. Or Williams with BMW come to that.
Crimson Bull Powertrains must be a slam dunk success for a producer – so long as the workforce can construct a aggressive engine in 2026. A automotive firm may come into F1 with restricted threat and most publicity, at a fraction of the associated fee that such a programme would usually price. So is it any surprise that we’re listening to names equivalent to Ford, Hyundai, Porsche and so forth? It’d even be Alfa Romeo.
The query for Crimson Bull is which automotive model most closely fits the invoice. Logically, it is going to be the agency that provides probably the most and creates the least trouble. Porsche likes to personal what it does, however Crimson Bull Racing didn’t need to be instructed what to do, in order that relationship fell aside. Honda has at all times accomplished its personal factor as a result of it desires to coach its engineers and get new expertise as properly. So that doesn’t actually match. F1 is greater than advertising and so it’s onerous to see the present relationship persevering with. It’s a marriage of comfort in the intervening time that’s working properly, however a brand new engine is unlikely to be a Honda, and so the Japanese must resolve whether or not to go down that route, do its personal factor with a distinct workforce, or depart F1. A relationship with Honda would possibly work properly for a rival workforce, however there’s nonetheless the dreadful spectre of the cataclysmic McLaren-Honda relationship lurking on the market.
If I used to be a automotive firm government I believe that I’d be on the telephone to Christian Horner to see how the public sale goes. Higher nonetheless I’d tackle somebody who is aware of F1 and use them to have the dialogue for me. Possibly for this reason Hyundai is tipped to be hiring Cyril Abiteboul…
Ford is an effective candidate as properly with a CEO (Jim Farley) who’s new to the function, has huge ambitions and understands what the game can do. Leaping into mattress with Crimson Bull makes a heap of sense for Ford.
It is sensible too for Stellantis, the place Carlos Tavares is a large fan of the game, though he’s cautious sufficient to not go too far. That would imply a extra significant involvement than the Alfa Romeo-Sauber relationship.
Manufacturers that badge F1 groups don’t get a lot of a say in what occurs within the workforce. They’re simply there to lug in sacks of cash and best F1 people know that it’s best that method as a result of nearly all of automotive trade executives haven’t the faintest clue about F1 and underestimate how troublesome it’s. They arrive waltzing in, spouting an incredible deal, and infrequently depart with empty pockets and slumped shoulders, if certainly they nonetheless have a job. I cannot identify names, however there’s a formidable roll of honour of automotive corporations within the final 40 years who thought they knew higher.
Letting those that know what they’re doing is one thing that requires religion and it doesn’t at all times repay, however it’s value remembering that Ford continues to be third within the all-time checklist of F1 victories as an engine provider. Sure, Ferrari tops the checklist however has been doing it for lots longer. Mercedes is subsequent, primarily because of the current run of success, however Ford is third, however left F1 in 2004, a technology in the past. To place it into perspective Ford has had extra wins in F1 than Renault… the important thing level in that is that Ford’s success got here from its relationship with Cosworth, which started within the mid-Sixties. Ford didn’t personal Cosworth till 1998…