A really superb commentary, with a great sense of historic proportion, in this piece from Formula1Blog.com.
Known earlier as “privateers” or insultingly garragistas, independent F1 teams that bolted a “customer” engine to a “customer” chassis have done rather well in Formula One in the past. As Bernie Ecclestone’s friend and former (disgraced) FIA president Max Mosley — founder and architect of March Engineering in the early 1970s — can attest. See A New F1 Customer Engine and GP Privateers | Formula One Art & Genius.
The key here is Frank Williams. A man who would not be in F1 if it were not for March Engineering. Williams purchased a Brabham chassis in 1969 and raced Piers Courage finishing in 2nd place twice that year. He then purchased a March chassis in 1971. It wasn’t until the Williams FW07 that Sir Frank found his “constructor” gene at the hands of Patrick Head (his partner) and while he could accurately claim he was a bona fide constructor, it was effectively a re-engineered Lotus 79 car and was developed in the same wind tunnel at Imperial College London.
One man, who rightfully feels a constructor should be an actual constructor, got his start buying March cars. It makes one wonder if it isn’t time for customer cars to return to F1 in order to keep the costs down and innovation high.