Force India and McLaren

What's the difference between F1 and Indy? Plenty. But it's a question that comes up more than you'd expect, and there are numerous answers. While F1 races only on street circuits and road courses, Indy also races on ovals. Indy, of course, is also primarily an American series, while F1 hasn't had a race in the United States for years now. The two series use different fuel, different engines, but the biggest difference, of course, is the cars: While Indy uses one spec chassis (and until next year, one engine), every team in F1, by definition, has to design and build their own cars. That's why F1 teams aren't called teams in the technical lingo. They're called constructors.

All that may be about to change, however, as the sport moves into a new round of debates over customer cars. The issue, as you might have guessed, revolves around the potential for some of the bigger teams (like Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes GP) to supply complete cars, ready to race, to smaller teams.

It's an issue that has been moving back and forth over the course of recent years: you may recall that, until a couple of years ago, Red Bull was designing and building the cars for Scuderia Toro Rosso – its B-squad – until the regulations put a stop to it. Meanwhile McLaren, for example, has signed technical partnerships with teams like Force India (pictured above) and Virgin Racing that have seen the front-running team help the back-markers get a leg up.

For its part McLaren isn't interested in supplying complete cars to its customer teams, but Ferrari is. It's something Maranello already does with its sportscar programs, and until its collapse, was doing for the A1GP series. The current regulations prohibit such deals from taking place in F1, but with the debate set to start anew between the teams, Formula One Management and the FIA, things could change.