James Hunt's 1977 McLaren M26 F1 race car. Photos via RK Motors.Enlarge Photo
Fans still reeling from the mass of technical changes implemented for the 2014 Formula One season could soon get a reprieve.
The Wall Street Journal (sub. required) reports that the FIA is considering an F1 "masters" series, featuring older cars and the legendary drivers of the past few decades. F1 czar Bernie Ecclestone has reportedly taken interest in the project.
Ecclestone's interest was revealed by a European trademark filed in February by Formula One Licensing to protect the name "Historic Formula One." It was filed under the category for sporting events, which is apparently part of the preliminary work done in advance of a new race series.
If Historic Formula One does get off the ground, it would follow other sports like tennis and golf, which already host events for older stars. It's already received nods of support from F1 greats Gerhard Berger and Martin Brundle.
While there is no current masters series in professional motorsports, there have been a few attempts at getting old cars--and their drivers--back onto the track.
An outfit called Masters Historic Racing runs a series for owners of vintage F1 cars. It allows these owners to compete against each other on 10 tracks, including Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps, and the Nürburgring under the "Historic Formula One Championship" name. Ecclestone licenses the name to Masters Historic Racing, so he could recall it once his current agreement with the series organizers expires.
There was also the Grand Prix Masters series, which pit ex-F1 drivers over the age of 40 against each other in 3.5-liter open-wheel cars. Launched in 2005, it held three races--in Qatar, South Africa, and England--and shut down in 2007.
However, it's unclear what the legends competing in an official Historic Formula One series would drive.
Brundle told The Wall Street Journal that getting back into period cars might be a challenge for older drivers, so modifications might have to be made to increase safety and make the driving "less physical."