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Thursday Thoughts - Should F1 teams launch 2010 cars at a single event? // Weighing up the pros and cons of a common car launch

Published by Mr. C

This weeks Thursday Thought seems like a relatively straightforward question to tackle. The Formula One Teams Association are investigating the possibility of launching their 2010 championship challengers at a single event in the new year, to help reduce costs. Handy for them no doubt, but are they taking away yet another source of enjoyment for fans?

Common people

Dubbed the common car launch, Autosport today noted that FOTA representatives have met with Bernie Ecclestone to discuss the concept, so there's a very real chance this idea could see the light of day. My initial reaction to the suggestion was this could only be a bad thing. In the past we've seen FOTA's cost cutting initiatives pull regular testing sessions from the calendar. This denied fans the opportunity to see F1 cars at an affordable price, removed a significant layer of interest during the year, and hindered those teams who started the season with a bad car.

In my eyes, as cost-cutting measures go, 2009's testing restrictions have been a dismal failure for F1 fans. Could a unified car launch be similarly disastrous? I think it could be, but I'm going to remain cautiously optimistic.

This year was the first year we paid much attention to car unveilings at all. In seasons gone by, we noted any significant differences between the chassis, but we'd never followed all of the press that goes hand-in-hand with them. I will say we thoroughly enjoyed following with a closer interest, although I did object to the early mornings required to catch the announcements.

Variety was offered, with an online-only launch from Toyota, while Red Bull provided a fantastic explanation of '09 rule changes. Williams opted to roll the car out of the garage and then back in again.

Admittedly, between the various team websites dying and a general lack of co-ordination, you couldn't argue that the launches were a blinding success. Nor were they something that captured the interest of mainstream media. They did manage to keep us occupied for many days during winter though, and I do wonder if a single event might mean less coverage for each team and a number of them getting overlooked entirely. Revealing Mercedes' debut livery might steal the headlines from say, Red Bull trotting out the same driver pairing and colour scheme for the second year in a row.

There goes the fear

A significant reduction in manufacturer teams, coupled with a troubled economy, means any hope of a high-budget affair, along the lines of McLaren's 2007 run through the streets of Valencia are out of the window anyhow. If teams combine their efforts, it might still be a sight to behold and there is an opportunity to give something back to the fans too.

Although we don't know what FOTA's suggestions might entail, it would be fantastic if the combined launch was open to the public too. Better yet, run the cars around the track in the afternoon and double the unveiling with a scheduled test and ensure all the cars and drivers fit in a run.

Reducing costs, increasing testing and giving back to the fans. I can't argue with that.

All of the above assumes a level of common sense prevails and that every team will have something physical to reveal before February, which is by no means a given. In truth it's just as likely we'll see a low key, low cost event, attended by a handful of teams which leaves us longing for the good old days just like always. Cautiously optimistic I tell you.