The United States has had a colored history in Formula One. The US Grand Prix has bounced around more locations than a pop-up restaurant, we haven't sent one of our own into F1 since Scott Speed flunked out five years ago, and for all the racing Americans participate in at home, we've only produced two world champions. But one of those is hinting that we could be in for a change.

Speaking with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine, 1978 Formula One World Champion Mario Andretti suggested that Andretti Autosport - the team run by his son Michael, who also drove in F1 - would be interested in getting into grand prix racing if the series allowed it to run customer chassis.

"My son Michael is one of the first who would do that if he could buy a car from one of the top manufacturers," said the legendary Mario, who raised the idea directly with Bernie Ecclestone. "I find the idea interesting that a blue Ferrari overtakes a red Ferrari."

That certainly paints an interesting picture, but Formula One defines its entrants as constructors, not teams, and each is required to design and manufacture its own chassis from scratch. That was the heart of the controversy revolving around Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso, where the former used to design the chassis for the latter. But that was put to rest by even further entrenched rules forbidding the practice of customer teams in F1.

The notion, however tempting, of the FIA reversing its stance on the issue seems rather unlikely, but if anyone were up to the task it would surely be Andretti Autosport. The team has competed in CART, IndyCar, ALMS, A1GP and a handful of other series, and was among the first teams to sign up for the FIA Formula E series.


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  • 25 Comments
      gary
      • 1 Year Ago
      Economics will eventually force F1 to accept either "customer cars" or 3-car teams. Several teams are on the brink financially now and new regs for 2014 threaten to topple one or more of them. Allowing customer cars would let "field filler" teams to compete without the outrageous expense of developing their own (slow) car from scratch AND allow the big teams some additional revenue to fund their operations.
        alkalinebay
        • 1 Year Ago
        @gary
        Sounds great, But that is not what F1 is.. F1 is not Indycar.... I want to watch the constructors compete not cookie cutter cars.
      Gregg Mckinney
      • 1 Year Ago
      When I was growing up the Indy 500 had 15 or 16 different chassis and engine combinations. Back then F1 had factory teams and privateers, usually running year or two older models. In both cases these private teams would be where young drivers would get their first shots at making the show. Privateers would sometimes get added backing for a single race and put a local driver behind the wheel. There were also non-championship races and series in F1 that allowed the privateers to go toe to toe with the factory teams. The factory teams knew that they had a sale for older chassis to the private teams and would usually have a working relationship with their low budget partners. Back at Indy it wasn’t all this pressure to win the race. Just making the field was a big deal, and some teams brought the same car to the speedway 5 or 6 years. Sprint-car drivers, stock-car drivers, sports-car drivers, were usually the ones that would get these seats for the big show and if they made the field then finishing the full 500 was the “BIG” thing. By comparison, the Indy 500 is now “BORRING”, looking back at a time when you had in the same starting field stock-block Chevy’s , turbo charged & supercharged Offys, turbo charged Ford V8’s, jet-turbine powered cars, and some of the crazy creations that didn’t make it such as a twin-engine 4 wheel drive Porsche powered car, a car that ran 4 motorcycle engines (one at each wheel), and a 4 wheel steering car. There are a bunch of F2 & F3 teams that could put their drivers in the field if they could run a private car, they could come up with a budget to race the biggest part of the season but could never come up with the hundred million that it would take to put together a design and development program to build a competitive car, but they have the infrastructure in place to run a competitive team if they were allowed to so. Factory teams might not have to be the “RENT-A-RIDE” teams that some of them have become, turning away someone that they would really prefer to put behind the wheel and forced to sell the seat to keep the team going. By selling their older cars to privateers they might make enough to keep whom they want in their car, and the “RENT-A-RIDE” drivers could wrangle a ride with a privateer team. This would be the proverbial “WIN-WIN” situation!
      RGT881
      • 1 Year Ago
      Current economic climate coupled with rule changes for the 2014 season are two main factors contributing to F1 poor state. It would be absolutely idiotic to say that everything is fine when only 4 teams are able to hire drivers that don't have to pay for a drive. Force India, Sauber, Williams, Lotus are all in one or another type of financial strain, and those are terrific teams. Only way forward is to reduce costs, and that could happen with achieving economies of scale through 3 car teams, or building cars for customer teams and then letting those teams tweak those cars additionally suit their particular requirements. Unfortunately,those who run FIA and F1 are power hungry fools whose first career preference would have been being a politician in Belgium. In other words, F1 is too proud, too self-centered to make necessary changes in due time to avoid further hardship. It's a completely different world, and soon enough it will be absolutely irrelevant as a form of motorsport or entertainment. By that point, no intelligent company will have any desire to participate in it in any kind of form, sponsor included.
        rtkewley
        • 1 Year Ago
        @RGT881
        F1 has always been a story of 'haves' and 'have nots', irrespective of the absolute amount of money involved. That said, I agree that changes are needed, but they aren't going to happen until Bernie dies. F1 is in that sense (and some others) very much like a Third World dictatorship.
      angelalvalois
      • 1 Year Ago
      You can still have a constructors championship with the highest 2 finishers from each constructor earning points for the manufacturer just as is done in other forms of racing with customer cars.
      Rob Wilson
      • 1 Year Ago
      That was written poorly
      mx5hong
      • 1 Year Ago
      The sole reason I've been following F1 since the mid 80's is that it's a constructor's championship. The fact that each team has to build their own cars (well, there has been a few exceptions) appeals to me. If I just want to see open wheel single seaters run around the track, then I'll start watching Indycars, GP2 etc.
      Ben Lee
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sure, why not. F1 is becoming more and more like Indycar anyway
      breitling65
      • 1 Year Ago
      F1 is not for US, any project about will fail here. People don't know and don't like anything besides their sports. Baseball, Gootball ... Race? They are ok with Daytona and Indi ...
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      Drakkon
      • 1 Year Ago
      While I see Super Mario's point, more teams may be a good thing. But F1 is already having the LOOK of a cup race. To the casual viewer the cars are so similar. Obviously in performance, there are standouts, but that's pretty much all nuance. I still come back to Sportscar racing and Rally for cars that come at the rules with really different philosophies and personalities and yet, the rules-makers are capable of getting the performance equal enough for an exciting show.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      landypd5
      • 1 Year Ago
      F1 used to be fun when Honda "BAR" and Toyota on the grid. : ] The sport is just so exciting to watch.
        alkalinebay
        • 1 Year Ago
        @landypd5
        Watching them loose was fun? Other than the Senna Era with Lotus / McLaren etc
          landypd5
          • 1 Year Ago
          @alkalinebay
          Yes it sucked they didn't do quite well during the BAR era :( however, I was there for the entire DRAMA lol competition is fierce, Toyota is BO$$ and Honda did made one of the best engines on the grid and once Brawn took over they won the championship. Didnt quite follow the Lotus/Mclaren era. ;)
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