Manufacturers to Field 3 Cars in Formula 1?

With Honda Racing leaving the sport and no investor in line to purchase the Brackley-based team (yet), Formula 1 is considering other ways to ensure a 20-car grid in 2009. Bernie Ecclestone suggested that he would have no problem with series' 'big guns' fielding 3 cars for the upcoming season.

In exchange, he demanded the teams that do decide to run 3 cars in 2009 to supply at least one independent team with an engine for the entire duration of the season. That would only leave Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and Toyota in contention for running a 3rd car, as they are current engine suppliers to Toro Rosso, Force India, Red Bull Racing and Williams F1 respectively.

“That is what basically will happen. If the manufacturers supply engines to other people, they can run three cars themselves. It is better to have 20 cars on the grid, whether they are in the hands of manufacturers or in private hands, that doesn't make any difference,” Ecclestone was quoted as saying to DPA.

The F1 supreme also suggested that such a situation – where the F1 field is shortened as a result of one manufacturer leaving the sport – could be easily avoided in the future. The solution? Give 'big spenders' the chance to spend how much money they want – therefore forget about budget caps – in exchange of committing to Formula 1 for the long run.

This way, as Ecclestone put it quite eloquently, “we could sue the arse off them if they left. They wouldn't like that.” However, the idea is yet to be submitted for discussion within the Formula One Teams Association. However, it is believed that such a proposal would not be taken into consideration by the FOTA – at least not under its original form – as it would further increase the gap between manufacturers and independent teams inside the sport.
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