Formula 1 without Ferrari and Mercedes?
Munich – Damon Hill’s demand for a Formula 1 exit for Ferrari and Mercedes does not come from anywhere. SPORT1 explains the background and possible consequences.
Ex-Formula 1 World Champion Damon Hill caused a sensation with his statement that a withdrawal of Mercedes and Ferrari from Formula 1 would be a win for the top class.
The Brit accused the two top teams of preventing the necessary rule changes and thus “ruining the sport”, after which Hill even fought a verbal skirmish with the Silver Arrows on Twitter.
But what was behind the statements of the 1996 world champion and could Formula 1 really survive without Mercedes and Ferrari? SPORT1 is analyzed.
Hill’s criticism is less aimed at Mercedes and Ferrari having the fastest cars, and Hill resents Mercedes and Ferrari for actively ensuring that no other racing team can catch up with them, according to him.
Even if Mercedes and Ferrari fight each other on the track, they should work together behind the scenes.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff even likes to call Ferrari a “Frenemy” – a rival who depends on having a friendly relationship with him.
Hill accuses Mercedes and Ferrari of only wanting to compete in Formula 1 if it is certain that they will always drive for victory. The Scuderia’s constant threats of withdrawal as soon as rule changes are discussed support his thesis.
Most recently, Ferrari threatened to retire before the start of the season because Formula 1 owner Libery Media wants to make the engines significantly cheaper and the aerodynamics less complex.
Mercedes made similar comments: “Such a scenario is quite possible. If we don’t see what Formula 1 stands for, we have to ask ourselves the question: “Not whether, but where we want to pursue motorsport at a high level,” said Wolff, referring to a possible withdrawal.
Ferrari in particular enjoys some advantages because of its long Formula 1 loyalty. These include bonus payments from the prize pool, a say in the regulations and even a right of veto against certain rules.
Mercedes is also one of the six privileged teams that have a say in the rules. Force India and Williams are two other racing teams supplied with Mercedes engines.
To maximize the value of the royal league for rights holders, he needed guarantees from the five major teams until 2020. He got this – but only in exchange for bonus payments and a say in the regulations.
But even without a say, Ferrari and Mercedes could exert pressure on the F1 bosses with their threats of resignation and the two top teams have by far the largest fan base and exert a great fascination worldwide.
Hill’s desire for more competition is nevertheless understandable and it would be an asset to the excitement if four or five teams had a real chance of winning.
But with the end of Mercedes and Ferrari this would by no means be guaranteed. According to the current state of affairs, Red Bull would then circle around its opponents.
Of course, one could try to adjust the rules every year until this is no longer the case – but Formula 1 is a battle between the manufacturers and not just the drivers.
With the last sentence in his tweet Hill addresses the core problem: “The FIA has lost control of Formula 1”, because Formula 1 should never have allowed some teams to have a say in the rules.
Libery Media must therefore find a way to stop this without losing the series’ flagships, as both teams know what they have in Europe’s most popular racing series – and at Ferrari, exit threats are almost a tradition.
Already in the 80s the Scuderia flirted with an exit and even developed an IndyCar racing car – but it didn’t turn out to be more than a test drive.