Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley has accused Formula 1’s biggest teams of conspiring against the smaller outfits, in an effort to oust them from the sport.
On Friday in Montreal, a meeting convened by McLaren’s Ron Dennis was attended only by representatives of three other teams – fellow grandees Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull.
Even the strategy group members Williams and Force India were excluded, and the latter’s deputy chief Fernley thinks he knows why.
“The intention is clear,” he is quoted by Autosprint. “They want to throw us out.”
The ‘gang of four’ meeting was chiefly about the issue of customer cars, or ‘franchise teams’ as now described by Mercedes chief Toto Wolff.
“We know that the other teams do not want it,” Wolff acknowledged, “but we have to think of an alternative. We cannot end up with 14 or 16 cars a week before the next grand prix. If things remain as they are now, it will not be needed.”
Briefly, the plan agreed between the ‘gang of four’ is that they will offer full car packages to potential ‘franchise teams’ for €50 million a season.
Bernie Ecclestone reacted by saying he doubts he will “let that happen”.
“How can you allow one competitor to supply things to another competitor?” he told British television Sky in Canada.
But at the very least, Force India’s Fernley says he knows what the big teams are trying to do, “Not only have they not accepted our proposals to reduce the cost of the power unit, introduce a budget cap or revise the distribution of income, now they want to take everything — even our money.”
“They want the independent teams to disappear and to replace them with small customer teams. Then all the other money will end up with them (the big teams).
“Customer cars is just a way for them to take the part of the income that they don’t already have,” Fernley charged.