Max Mosley says he feels that the way Super Aguri and Toro Rosso has designed its race cars is a 'compromise' in the ongoing row into customer cars in Formula 1.

Prodrive was forced to shelve its plans to join the grid in 2008 after Williams launched a legal challenge into its proposal to run a customer McLaren-Mercedes chassis. While that would have been allowed under new regulations, the refusal of some teams to commit to a new Concorde Agreement containing the provision for customer cars meant Prodrive was forced to give up on the F1 dream for at least one season.

The Banbury-based squad hasn't been the only team to become embroiled in the customer car row, with Williams and Spyker both being vocal in their opinions on the cars run by Super Aguri and Toro Rosso during the past season.

Super Aguri campaigned a car based on the 2006 Honda RA106 - which proved to be almost as successful as the RA107 used by the actual Honda squad - while Toro Rosso ran a revised version of the Red Bull RB2 during 2007, although Mosley said it was a different situation to a team simply buying a car 'off the shelf' with which to race.

"I do," he told The Paddock when asked if building cars to designs handed over was a reasonable compromise to the customer car row. "The cars look different, and they are different.

"I rather see it from the point of view of the man in the grandstand. A Toro Rosso is different from a Red Bull. There's also an argument that, if you've got a Ferrari and a Minardi and the Minardi is four seconds slower, is that better for the spectator than having a Ferrari and a Maserati, and the only difference is that one is painted red and the other blue?

"I can see the argument that there should be differences, that a Maserati shouldn't be the same as a Ferrari. But at the same time I can buy a SEAT or a Skoda or a VW, and they have a common platform, and all sorts of parts in common. Yet for all practical purposes, they're completely different cars."

However, Mosley added that he felt sympathy for the likes of Williams chief Sir Frank Williams and Force India - nee Spyker - team boss Colin Kolles who have led the fight against customer machinery as they continue to battle against the might of the manufacturer-backed teams.

"Frank has hundreds of employees and lots of facilities, so it's annoying for him if somebody who doesn't have any of that makes use of McLaren's facilities by buying cars from them," he said. "On the other hand, it's not really that simple.

"If you look at the overall interests of F1, what we would like is 24 drivers in 24 competitive cars, and that does argue for at least a degree of technology transfer. What degree is debatable. But the idea that everyone should do every single thing themselves is crazy. Ninety-five percent of the R&D effort of the top teams results in things that nobody can see, and it's all duplicated.

"It's like a business with twelve departments all doing the same research. It just doesn't make sense. The classic case is wheel-nuts. One team has its wheel-nuts specially made in the USA. They're only used once because they're so marginal, and so carefully made. They use 1200 a year and they cost $1000 each. If they were about 8g heavier, and made of a slightly different material, they could probably be used all through the season. If every car had the same wheel-nuts, would anybody notice? If you came from Mars and looked at the way the F1 teams operate, or indeed from McKinsey or one of those consultants, you'd say they were all barking mad. It's a hugely profitable business, but all the money is being spent on engineering exercises.

"In the end, it isn't the manufacturers' money, it's their shareholders'. Sooner or later, somebody is going to complain. It's certainly mad to employ between 700 and 1000 people just to race two cars for a couple of hours 17 times a year. One of the financial people involved in F1 told me the problem was that, if the teams are prevented from spending money in one area, they just spend it somewhere else. He said it was like that Japanese game, where you hit the thing on the head and it pops up somewhere else. I told him he was absolutely right.

"But we can make sure that it's producing something useful where it pops up."

 

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