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Spyker Bucks the Trend

Spyker is a funny little team. In some ways they seem so professional and in others a bit chaotic. Every week they seem to gain a new sponsor yet we hear continually of how they haven’t the funding to test as often as they should. They paint the cars orange and then decide it’s not orange enough and re-design with a new color. The website is very slick and the team produces a glossy online magazine that is well worth subscribing to – in fact, some of the larger teams could learn about presentation from them.

Spyker

Christijan Albers in the Spyker F8-VII

This jumble of conflicting impressions makes it quite hard to assess the team. Are they more fanfare than substance, destined to remain at the back of the grid until the money runs out? Or is the gloss a sign that they are going places and will become competitive in time? I would like to think that the second is true, that they will demonstrate that it is still possible to enter F1, design your own car and have a chance of winning. It does look as though F1 is changing in ways that will prevent this, however.

The row over customer cars shows that Spyker know full well how difficult their life will become if they have to compete against teams that just buy in a chassis. And one has to cheer for them in their decision to build their own. Variety is a part of the spectacle of F1 and the more chassis constructors, the better. But it will be hard for Spyker to find the funds necessary to remain independent in the future.

Hopefully, Mike Gascoyne will be able to design some good cars for the team and they will progress up the grid through quality rather than sheer financial muscle. Of their drivers this year, Christijan Albers is known to be fast enough and Adrian Sutil shows much promise. If Gascoyne can develop the car to its potential, they could move up the grid a little. Scoring points is unlikely, however.

Spyker remain hard to assess, therefore. I like their “Dutchness” and the fact that they are different, but cannot see them having much success for a few years at least.

4 Responses to “Spyker Bucks the Trend”

  1. I think that customer chassis thing is a load of bollocks. This is F1, not IRL or Champcar or NASCAR. If you want to race in F1 you should have the ability to “invent” your own chassis.
    What? Does that makes it difficult to enter F1? Well that’s the bloody idea!

    Skyper now… they do look racey don’t they? Ugly as hell… but racey. I hope they’re going places.

  2. Before I start this post, I have to admit bias in that I’m a Spyker supporter from back when they were Jordan. It’s definitely going to be difficult for Spyker for the foreseeable future, but the management seems to understand this (unlike Midland) and is actually trying to take steps to ensure its survival.

    The sponsors that Spyker are finding may mostly be small, but they are numerous. I cannot think of any team in the recent past that has found and continued to find sponsors at such a fast rate. If Spyker treats these sponsors well (and their treatment of supporters indicates that this is likely – my difficulties with subscribing to the magazine notwithstanding), then the sponsors should cough up more money. This is just as well, since Spyker cannot put in much money itself (compared to the F1 standard). Being the smallest manufacturer has its drawbacks.

    Mike Gascoyne is a very good designer and staff-manager who will produce good designs.

    As for the testing, skipping Sepang made sense because the components weren’t available to test (this also allowed them to arrive on the race cars two races early, since the staff went back to Europe to finish the bits). Skipping tomorrow’s Spain test makes less sense, given that the parts still need testing and improving to yield optimal benefit. Yes they can repair the chassis that got smashed yesterday, but they could probably have done that anyway.

    The customer car dispute will probably go against Spyker in the long run (though I am fully convinced that customer cars are against the rules and long-term interests of F1, even in 2008) but at least it shows the right attitude. I know Colin Kolles is very stubborn about these things (he’s been complaining about customer cars ever since Toro Rosso did it last year), but the arbitration process is not entered into lightly and I am pleased to see Spyker can carry the courage of its convictions. That sort of determination will see it getting sporadic good results – even when the prevailing environment will prevent anything much happening on normal races, and the odd idosyncratic tendancy will lead to Spyker occasionally shooting itself in the foot too. But that sort of combination is interesting, and I will be very keen to track its progress.

  3. I think there are good arguments on both sides of the customer car debate. It seems to me that, if the FIA don’t allow customer cars in, the fields will shrink to those few big manufacturers in the game. That means grids of twelve cars or less and that would probably spell the end of F1. It’s hard for teams like Spyker and Williams that are trying to preserve their independence, but that looks to be the way things are going. Mighty Max says so, after all. ;)

    Yes, I quite like the look of the Spykers and they are always well finished and presented. Definitely a sign that they have a determination to do well.

  4. I was a Jordan fan from the beginning, Alianora, but found it hard to transfer my allegiance to Midland – they just didn’t look like the same team somehow. Things are much better now that Spyker have taken over but that break means I don’t see the cars as Jordans in disguise (yet I saw the Prosts as really Ligiers for years).

    Spyker are winning me over and no small part of that is the excellence of their magazine. I also have problems with it – the website never remembers my password and I have to get a new one every month. I suppose they’ll fix that before long.

    Talking of the multitude of sponsors, you remind me that Eddie Jordan was famous for his ability to talk companies into sponsoring his team; perhaps that’s something that has been inherited by Spyker. I hope so – Eddie came very close to breaking through into the top rank of F1 teams and it was only in the final years that he began to run out of financial backers.

    Spyker the car company have just had a very good year with profits exceeding expectations. Let’s hope that this success continues and ensures the GP team a solid basis of funding that, together with the contributions from many sponsors, enables them to compete with the big boys.

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