F1: Three Teams On Death Row

Third cars weren't always unusual, here's Jonathan Palmer
in a third Williams at Brand Hatch in 1983
As if things on track at Monza weren't exciting enough, the sport now has to deal with strong rumours that the failure of three teams to make it to the grid next year will bring into play the three car team rule.

The three teams on the way out are likely to be Caterham (and the resignation of Christijan Albers as team principle has certainly added weight to that rumour following team owner Tony Fernandes bailing out earlier this year), Marussia (given the funding driven debacle at Spa that saw Chilton out of the car and then back in again) and Sauber (whose loss of ninth place in the championship may prove to be the final straw for the team). The future of the Lotus team doesn't look particularly bright either, especially after a deal to buy Mercedes engines for next season fell through, allegedly as a result of a failure to pay the agreed deposit,

The agreement between teams and the sports promoter (AKA Bernie Ecclestone) demands that if the number of entrants drops below twenty that each team will enter a third car.  As it stands we're guaranteed to see Ferrari, Mercedes, Mclaren, Toro Rosso and Red Bull in the sport next year. It's likely that Williams and Force India will also make it to the grid. With three cars each that's a 21 car field. If the Haas team makes it to its first race and assuming that Lotus survive we would be looking at a twenty-seven car field - the largest for a number of years.

The entry of a third car offers some intriguing driver possibilities too. Who would be first choice for the lucrative third seat at Mercedes? Or the increasingly competitive Williams seat? Could Kamui Kobayashi end of in a Mclaren-Honda next year?

Despite the sport's real need to retain the flavour offered by the midfield and back marker teams, the arrival of third cars for the teams at the front of the grid can only add to the excitement. Think that the Rosberg - Hamilton battle has been exciting this year? Imagine a three way in-team battle for 2015.

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