The bankruptcy of the Caterham and Marussia teams has made the prospect of third team cars again a hot topic in F1, but the drivers expressed mixed reactions to the idea ahead of this weekend’s U.S. Grand Prix.
World championship leader Lewis Hamilton reckoned third cars could be a useful option, but suggested they would be better as a way of providing experience for young drivers than as an extra place for a star on top teams.
“I haven’t really thought about it, to be honest, but we would have to expand the team to make sure the efforts aren’t diluted,” Hamilton said. “But yeah, if it’s a position for a younger driver, it could be quite good. Especially bringing them on, giving them the best experience and especially putting them alongside top drivers who have the experience. Perhaps they will come along a lot more than they ever have in the past.
“When I think about the two teams that have dropped out, my biggest concern really is just for all the employees in those teams that have to provide for their families that perhaps don’t have a job now. If we do do this (third cars), perhaps they still have space in other teams.”
Force India’s Sergio Perez offered more unqualified support for the concept.
“I think it will definitely help the opportunities of the drivers,” he said. “Formula 1 is really limited, the spaces where you can go and where you can actually win during a year, so it can create a bit more opportunity.. He agreed with Hamilton that it might help find employment for the failed teams’ personnel: “Hopefully they can be in a better position for the future and, if it’s good for the sport, why not? I think we should all help this sport to get better.”
On the other hand, Jenson Button – who might be expected to favor the idea since it would improve his chances of staying with his current McLaren team – came down against the third-car option on Thursday in Austin.
“If you have one team like this year [Mercedes] that have been a step above, then they lock out the podium in the top three places,” he told Sky Sports News HQ. “So, personally I feel it is a shame if it goes in that direction. I don’t like the idea of three cars in a team – two cars is the way it always has been and it is the way it works in Formula 1.”