Super Aguri have gone bust. Torro Rosso have been put up for sale, and nobody seems to have come forward to buy them. At some point the larger Formula One teams are going to have to ask themselves, “who are we going to beat”.
There have always been three levels of Formula One teams. The elete, the mid-field and the backmarkers. For a long time Minardi were the ultimate in backmarkers and now that mantle has been passed to Super Aguri and Torro Rosso.
But there was a difference with these new teams, they were using customer chasis in all but name. It turns out that the FIA were right, customer chasis are a lot cheaper to run than whole teams. We know this because Super Aguri got close to Honda and Torro Rosso got close to Red Bull.
In the time before customer chasis, a time we’re rapidly heading back to, the backmarkers seemed to know their place. They knew a point every other season was worth shouting about and all the other teams knew that they wouldn’t come last as long as they kept it on the black stuff.
But this new found competitiveness has been their undoing. Suddenly it’s embarrassing for everyone else. It was initially just embarrassing for Spyker and Williams. But suddenly it became embarrassing for the people actually paying the cheque (Red Bull and Honda) and so they had to go.
But what will come in their place? The sport has become more and more expensive and it was an attempt to slow this which triggered the introduction of customer cars. If the teams don’t come up with a way to make the sport cheaper without upsetting the egos of the other nearby teams that were running already then there will be a hard lesson to learn.
The teams will come to realise that there is something more embarrassing than spending all that money and being beaten by your junior team. It’s spending all that money and coming dead last.