“It's true that F1 is costing too much money,” he noted, “I do agree with Franz [that] F1 needs technology, [as] this is the pinnacle of motorsport, [but] I think, rather than blaming engine or not, it's more about the process, about how this technology has been developed and sold to the team, which should have been controlled more.
“Last decade, car manufacturers were in this place and the lowest budget in F1 was around $250m and the highest about $400m. Today, it's not the case anymore and the smallest budget is around $60m and the highest is around $250m but still, if you want to be competitive, you need to spend some money. This is a circle: you are not attractive, you do not bring in any new sponsors…
“So, where is the balance? I think it's a complicated debate. Obviously all the teams should stick together first, which is obviously something very difficult to do, and also sit down with Bernie [Ecclestone] and the FIA and make sure the regulations are stable at least for the next few years. I think in the new strategy committee we have a chance to voice what we would like to do. That's going to be the first step, to make sure we go to a sustainable F1.”
As well as failing to contain costs, however, the schism in the FOTA ranks, prompted by differences of opinion over the Resource Restriction Agreement implemented in a bid to control spending, has also weakened the teams' ability to negotiate a better deal on revenue sharing with rights holder CVC.
“I think the teams have demonstrated that they are not capable of being able to agree a cost control, so I think the answer is to take it outside of the team's control,” Force India's Bob Fearnley added pointedly, “My view is that the teams can't agree what day it is, never mind be able to agree cost-cutting measures... I think it's up to the FIA to decide a formula, bring that in and implement it.
“I think we've had wonderful opportunities and we've collectively failed to be able to bring the deals together. There's a certain amount of greed comes in from the top teams as well and I think they have to take some of the responsibility for that, but it is F1, it's not something that's new. There's never been any equality in F1, so you have to go out there and make sure it happens for yourself.”
Fernandes, meanwhile, talked of the opportunity that was missed by not sticking together, comparing F1 to football via his ownership of Queens Park Rangers in the UK's Premier League.
“The teams had a wonderful opportunity to try and create a fair, equitable split so that the sport is sustainable,” he claimed, “I'm obviously in another sport where I think the difference between the top and the bottom is not as great as between the top and the bottom in F1. The winner of the Premier League's share of prize versus the team at the bottom is not as spread out. I think [F1] teams had an opportunity but looked at things on an individual basis as opposed to working together in FOTA and trying to find a win-win situation for everyone, [to] create a very healthy environment in a sustainable sport. We screwed it up, it's as simple as that!
“There were numerous meetings, loads and loads of meetings, loads and loads of proposals, but, at the end of the day, some teams decided to split and, when that happens, it's a divide and rule situation and the whole thing falls apart. I don't think it was anything else but that. There was lots of unity at the beginning but, one by one, people decided to do their own thing.”
With Toro Rosso
amongst those to quit FOTA, Tost, as usual, took a slightly more antagonistic approach to the debate, insisting that simply giving the teams a bigger share of the financial pie would only encourage them to spend more, potentially widening the divide between top and bottom.