By Noah Joseph
Teams in Formula One aren't called teams. Nor are they called squads, crews or any other term you would normally use for a collective of competitors in a sport. At least, not officially, anyway; in F1-speak, they're called “constructors.” And the distinction isn't pure semantics.
Every season, each constructor in the series is required to design and manufacture its own chassis, completely separately from any of its rivals. (That stipulation was called into question a few years ago when Red Bull was designing the cars for its sister team Toro Rosso, but that's since been resolved.) This aspect makes F1 unlike most other forms of motorsport, where teams are either supplied with a control chassis or else can source its cars from just about anywhere it wants, just as long as it conforms to the regulations.
As if that process weren't cost-, labor- and time-intensive enough, no constructor can get away with making just one car and hoping it makes it through the whole season. Each constructor is required to field two cars in the championship – no more, no less – and the close wheel-to-wheel action means that a car may be so extensively damaged during a grand prix weekend that it won't be reparable in time for the next one. And the only thing worse than failing to finish a race is failing to start one in the first place.
That's why each team – pardon us, “constructor” – makes four, five, six or even seven new cars every year, depending on its resources. And with 11 constructors currently competing in the Formula One World Championship, that adds up to a lot of chassis. Which only begs the question: What happens to all those F1 cars when the season's done? There's no one answer, but we're here to take you through the options.
Noah Joseph is a freelance automotive journalist and photographer with a decade's experience in the industry. Multilingual, a multinational citizen and military reservist, Noah has (in addition to Complex) written for such publications as Autoblog, CarBuzz, Road & Track and The New York Times.