So What Now For Prodrive ?

April 28, 2006 – David Richards’ Prodrive team was granted entry to the 2008 Formula One World Championship. In total 22 applications were submitted that time – 11 from that time existing F1 teams, 11 new ones. All existing teams were granted entry to the 2008 F1 Championship. So basically 11 F1 wannabies were bidding for 1 available slot.

This is what Max Mosley had to say at that time:

Question: What was the process the FIA went through to reach this decision?

Mosley: “After the World Motor Sport Council decided that entries for the 2008 Championship would open on 24 March 2006 and close on 31 March 2006 we informed all of the current teams as well as other organisations we knew to be interested. We also issued a press release to inform anyone else who might want to tender an entry.

“We soon received applications from the 11 current Formula One teams as well as another 11 teams. Where necessary, we wrote to teams to ask for further information about their financial position and experience in running motor sport operations.

“Once we had gathered all the information we informed the World Council of the list of potential entries. A fax vote ensued and Prodrive was chosen as the 12th team.

“The World Council concurred that there was no reason not to accept the current teams as they are already in the championship and have confirmed their ability to compete effectively. Prodrive was chosen mainly because of its financial position, capabilities and experience.”

To be fair to Prodrive, not only them, but most of the other teams entered the “tender” under assumption that the customer cars will be allowed to race from 2008. The other hot candidate for the 12th spot – Jean Alesi lead Direxiv bid – was based on running McLaren chassis and Mercedes-Benz customer engines as well.

Now however, with no new Concorde Agreement in sight, it looks like the current one will be used next season. The current Concorde Agreement does not permit use of customer cars.

So now, there is a situation when a team who applied for F1 entry may not be able to enter because the rules and conditions are different than the conditions they expected at the time of their application. Who is to blame for this ? Max Mosley said this on April 28, 2006:

Question: Why do you think there was such a significant response?

Mosley: “Hopefully because of the new rules we’ve introduced to the sport. The 2008 Sporting Regulations have reduced the cost of competing and should improve the sporting spectacle at the same time. It makes for a very attractive prospect.”

How could he be so sure that the 2008 rules will reduce the cost of competing (by allowing customer cars among other rule changes)? How could he be sure the new rules will be passed? How much less is it going to cost to run the F1 team in 2008 than in 2006 ?

Part of the blame falls on Prodrive as well. It had to be clear to them for at least several months if not for the whole 18 months since they won the 12th spot, that there is no guarantee there will be an agreement on running customer cars… It does not look at all like Prodrive had a plan B in place. Talking with 2 other teams besides McLaren does not count as plan B, as all their talks were about customer car supply…

If Prodrive wants to make it on the 2008 grid they have 3 options as I see it:

1) Hope for miracle and new Concorde Agreement. This is unlikely even if considering only the
opposition from Williams team.

2) Build their own car – Not likely to be done at this stage, especially with no team of engineers and probably without enough budget to that, as they had never planned to build their own car. And one does not build a new F1 car from scratch in 5 months …

3) Purchase existing F1 chassis from non F1 entity – menas going the Super Aguri way. As far as I can remember, the most modern F1 chassis that may be available to purchase is 2001 Prost… The last entity I can track the ownership of the Prost chassis to is a consortium fronted by Phoenix Finance, run by Charles Nickerson, a friend of Tom Walkinshaw (Arrows). There is always the Cosworth V8 engine available, so Prodrive may be able to assemble a car, that after some modifications may make it on the grid. But I am sure Dave Richard’s ambitions are not to be 5 seconds off the pace of Spykers …

Of course, they can still sell the entry to another party, but anybody who takes over would face exactly the same issues as Prodrive does. Having 12th team on the grid next year looks very unlikely now …

I am not sure what happens, if Prodrive does not make it on the grid next year. Will they be still considered for 2009 or will there be new selection ? This is more of what Max Mosley had to say on April 28, 2006:

Question: What have you said to the teams that didn’t make it this time?

Mosley: “We informed all the teams that were not successful, although we did not tell them which teams were. We asked them to keep in touch in case a vacancy occurred.”

It looks like there may be a vacancy…

WidgetBucks – Trend Watch –

6 Comments Post a Comment
  1. KeithNo Gravatar says:

    I think the FIA granted Prodrive’s application on the grounds that Prodrive would be using a customer chassis. I don’t think you can blame Prodrive if the FIA then fails to get its own proposals approved. It’s not as if building your own F1 car is something you expect to do on a whim.

  2. adminNo Gravatar says:

    I do think FIA is to blame. They made a seection on their own assumption the rules they proposed will pass. We all remember how quick the whole process was. The teams only got few weeks to submit the application…

    I just think that Prodrive probably should have had some plan B if they really wanted to be on the 2008 grid. The problems in getting agreement on new Concorde is not only last 2 weeks development…

  3. YeibiNo Gravatar says:

    What do you think about this?
    To denounce the irregularities which have taken place during the 2007 F1 championship

    As witnesses of the events which have taken place during the 2007 F1 championship, and as admirers of this sport, we feel obliged to publicly denounce the irregularities which have occurred, clearly showing that the driver, L. Hamilton has benefited from the favors of his team, generating serious damages for his companion F. Alonso, whose career has suffered from the lack of interest of both his team and the International Federation of Automobile.

    The proven facts and presumed irregularities are the following:

    G.P. of Barhein (15-04-07) Strangely, F. Alonso’s car encountered troubles in night conditions, on a statement of his own team, which prevented him from following the rhythm of his companion, whose car was functioning perfectly. L. Hamilton changed his trajectory several times, which is absolutely prohibited, but he was not sanctioned.

    G.P. of Monaco (27-05-07) A few laps from the end, the team ordered both drivers to go below 19.000 r.p.m. L. Hamilton, refused to obey his team and tried to overtake his companion. Not succeeding in doing so, he complained to the FIA and the British Media after the end of the race, provoking an investigation and a high pressure on F. Alonso. The team took no measure whatsoever towards L. Hamilton, and did not support F. Alonso. Moreover, during the race, L. Hamilton frequently stepped over the continuous line when exiting the pit lane, which is totally prohibited. But he was not sanctioned in any way by the FIA

    G.P. of Canada (10-06-07) Strange behavior of F. Alonso’s car. Once more, the number one car was not in the same mechanical conditions than L. Hamilton’s car.

    G.P. of the USA (17-06-07) Once more, the pit stop strategies were in favor of L. Hamilton and detrimental to F. Alonso.

    G.P. of France (01-07-07) Strangely, before the rain forecast, F. Alonso faced problems with his gear case during Q3, ending up on the tenth position of the starting grid whereas his companion L. Hamilton encountered no problems at all. De La Rosa explained during the race that this spare part had been perfectly identified and removed.

    G.P. of Germany (22-07-07) Peculiar reaction of the race controllers when facing L. Hamilton’s slip off the track, a crane put him back on the track, creating risks of collision with other pilots. Even more peculiar is that the other drivers were not placed back on the track regarding the moment they slipped off; only L. Hamilton benefitted from an immediate return on the track. Although the rules clearly specify that a driver must turn off his engine and get out of his car, like the rest of the drivers did, he was not penalised.

    G.P. of Hungary (05-08-07) A supplementary lap was given to F. Alonso in Q3. L. Hamilton disobeying his team’s orders entered the boxes to change his tyres on his own will, right behind F. Alonso, who was given used tyres. The following moment, L. Hamilton was equipped with a brand new pair of tyres. Nevertheless, F. Alonso succeeded in earning the pole position, to the apparent disappointment of Ron Dennis. Thus, L. Hamilton denounced F. Alonso again to the FIA and, consequently, he lost 5 positions on the starting grid, following the application of an inexistent rule, and McLaren also lost its constructor points earned during this race. Unexplainably, no sanction was applied to L. Hamilton after this race.

    G.P. of Italy (09-09-07) L. Hamilton placed his car diagonally when positioning himself on the starting grid, and made several trajectory changes without being sanctioned.

    G.P. of Belgium (16-09-07) Presumed sabotage attempt on F. Alonso’s car. His manager declared that during the free practice sessions, F. Alonso discovered that something was wrong with his power unit, asking his mechanics to revise his car, and then discovering that the top of his oil tank was missing. It is common knowledge that it only needs a simple lap to destroy a motor in such conditions.

    G.P. of Japan (30-07-07) Inexplicably, F. Alonso encountered new tyre problems during Q3, as he stated himself after the qualifications. Once more, L. Hamilton obtained a supplementary lap with new tyres and a small quantity of gas, permitting him to earn the pole position. During the race, both drivers were victims of a collision. However, only the driver who collisioned with L. Hamilton was sanctioned, whereas it was F. Alonso who suffered serious damage in his car. He was not warned of the damage on his car, which led him to crash without much reaction from the members of his team. After the accident, when behind the safety-car, L. Hamilton played once more with the rules, provoking an accident between Weber and Vettel, without being sanctioned during or after the race, even when new evidence was given to the FIA.

    G.P. of China (06-10-07) Once more, F. Alonso encountered problems in Q3, after having been faster than his companion during the free practice sessions, and the first two qualifying sessions. When F. Alonso was on the podium to celebrate his second position, after L. Hamilton resigned, only one mechanic from McLaren was there to celebrate the victory. After the race, Ron Dennis publicly declared that the struggle during the race was not against Ferrari, but against F. Alonso, who is now considered by his team as an opponent.

    Once these facts have been analyzed, we consider there is enough evidence to confirm that the equal treatment between the two drivers has not been respected by McLaren or by the FIA with the application of the Formula 1 rules.

    Consequently, with the signatures located at:
    we publicly denounce all these irregularities and express our deepest rejection of all that has happened during this 2007 F1 Championship.

    All this information has been gathered by the Safety-car forum members at:

  4. adminNo Gravatar says:

    this is a bit off the topic of this article, but as there is no forum on this site and no relevant article at the moment I leave the comment here.

    It is difficult for me to reply in details in a space of one comment, I will make a post on this issue in next few days.

  5. […] So what now for Prodrive? – Might the new entrants not make it onto the 2008 F1 grid? […]

  6. […] Pedro de la Rosa has been also mentioned in relation to Prodrive. He said he is not interested and would prefer to stay in McLaren as a test driver. I think he is only saying this knowing that Prodrive is very unlikely to feature on the 2008 F1 grid… […]

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