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.
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.