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F1 news

The rule F1 should amend to avoid an identity crisis

Following the consensus over the renaming of Red Bull's sister team, should there be more specific rules on team names to avoid an identity crisis in Formula 1?

Tsunoda AT04
Column
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

The Visa Cash App RB team is one of the worst names in the history of Formula 1, or so is the general consensus after fans took to the court of social media to determine everyone involved to be guilty of lacking any imagination. They have effectively hashed together two conflicting brands to serve a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal.

The last time a similar name appeared in F1 was in 1997, when the 'MasterCard Lola' took the track following pressure from the main sponsor leading to a seriously under-prepared car and a failure to qualify.

While the Faenza-based operation is much more slick and proven, the name does raise questions over whether there should be a line over what is possible when it comes to identities.

The rules over team names

F1 teams must conform to specific rules set by the FIA when it comes to team names.

The team name must contain the chassis name, which is the main body of the car which they will attach the wheels and wings onto and put the engine inside.

If we take Aston Martin as an example, their current name is the 'Aston Martin Aramco Formula One Team' but the chassis name itself for their 2023 car is the 'Aston Martin AMR23' as this will have been homologated to compete by the FIA.

Where it gets tricky for teams changing their name is their eligibility for prize money in the Concorde Agreement. This was a sticking point during the 2018 season when Force India changed its name mid-season to Racing Point, following the purchase from Lawrence Stroll.

Haas were not entitled to prize money when they joined F1 as a new team in 2016, and successfully argued that Racing Point was a "new entity" despite it only changing owners.

This threw up some questions over whether Racing Point would be entitled to the prize money earned while it was Force India in 2018, but a solution was eventually agreed behind the scenes between the two entities.

Should there be more rules over team entities?

You could argue that team names are largely anonymous in F1, given that people tend to use the shorthand name ('Mercedes' rather than 'Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team).

But with Red Bull's sister team this is slightly different, as they have already received widespread criticism for their close alignments to the Milton Keynes operation.

The team is set to move much of its design operation to Red Bull's campus in 2024, and the relatively similar name only gives credence to the criticism that this is not an independent operation.

With that in mind, F1 and the FIA should think about creating a standardised naming process to ensure that team entities do not exploit commercial agreements at the expense of identity.

Betting companies are not exactly in fitting with Liberty Media's goal to sell the glitz and glamour of F1, especially when most are at risk of being banned from advertising altogether in countries similar to alcohol and tobacco sponsorship.

The 'Stake F1 Team' is pointless when everyone knows they are Sauber [and soon to be Audi], and any attempt to gloss over the ties between the Faenza squad and Red Bull would be disingenuous to fans.

Toro Rosso was effectively an Italian version of Red Bull when it first entered, but it at least gave the team an identity tied to its Italian heritage.

For a team that has punched above its weight and has ambitions to finish further up the grid by getting good people onboard, the lack of a creative name saps any energy and momentum that might have come with those changes.

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