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GP Week : Issue 222
Following the strategy Group meeting after the spanish Grand Prix, talk in the paddock has shifted to 'franchise cars'. The four leading teams, McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull, met during the course of the Canadian Grand Prix to discuss further details about what are most definitely not customer cars. The reintroduction of customer cars has been a hot topic in Formula One for a number of years, with many seeing it as a low cost way of helping the smaller teams sur vive. However, those in the middle have been vehemently against the notion, claiming it goes against the fundamental concept of the sport and means a team would not be a 'constructor'. W illiams and Force India have both been particularly vocal, Williams clearly having forgotten how it entered the sport. Teams at the back end of the grid have a budget in the region of about $85million. This is made up from a mixture of prize money from Formula One Management, sponsorship deals and any funding drivers are able to bring with them. However, to compete, teams are spending beyond that, leaving some to call for a more equitable distribution of the sports revenues. Other cost cutting measures have been suggested, such as the abolishment of wind tunnel testing, but customer cars has been an ever present. Force India's Bob Fernley has been particularly outspoken, brandishing the strategy group and the notion of franchise case as a conspiracy theory to push independent teams out of the sport. "I'd put it under the banner of 'Beware of Greeks bearing gifts,'" Fernley told Reuters. "I think it's the final play of the manufacturing teams trying to take control of Formula One, both from a point of view of a power base and a financial base. "Drive independent teams out and replace them with customer cars so that they are in total control." Those involved in the Canada meeting argue the intent was simply to discuss contingencies should there be a requirement to supply additional cars - whether they would be able to run year old cars, for example, and if third party suppliers could be used. With Haas set to enter the sport next season, and the FIA having opened applications for another new team, the sport could feature twelve teams on the grid for 2016. The notion of franchise cars therefore seems an unlikely prospect and simply the sport airing its dirty laundry in public once again. tV Debut Former Force India driver Paul Di Resta cropped up in the Montreal paddock. The Scot, still looking to return to F1 in future, was cutting his teeth as a broadcaster for Sky television. uPGRADes COMING With a ten year contract extension done and dusted, the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve is set for an injection of funds over the coming years which will upgrade the pit and paddock complex, the medical centre and grandstands. use tHe FORCe Speaking of upgrades, Force India has confirmed its B-spec car has passed its mandatory crash test and will make its track debut at the post-Austrian Grand Prix test in two weeks' time. The team hopes to have a car ready for each of its drivers for the British Grand Prix. bIGGeR IsN't betteR Plans to introduce 18 inch wheels to Formula 1 from next season appear dead in the water with the sports technical leaders shooting down the idea. They claim the larger wheels are heavier and would produce less grip. It's also unlikely we'll see refuelling return in the near future either, with that idea also being killed off. 13 GPWEEK.com // 13 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> news Franchise teams BrieFly