Bernie Ecclestone has gone on the verbal rampage against FIA President Max Mosley's new-for-2009 Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) technology – claiming the devices 'cost a lot of money when we are trying to save it'.
The controversial energy-saving systems are part of the world governing body's dramatic drive to reduce what has been in recent years rapidly escalating expenditure in the top flight, but have come under fire from a number of teams – most notably Ferrari and Renault – for being expensive, unreliable, complicated and unlikely to be race-ready by the start of the season.
“In the end Renault, Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari supply engines to other teams,” explained Renault managing director Flavio Briatore, who backed countryman and Ferrari counterpart Luca di Montezemolo in describing KERS as 'a terrible mistake'. “We are not making any money – it is costing us but we are doing it for the good of F1.”
Ecclestone has now come out in support of fellow QPR director Briatore's viewpoint, stepping up his war of words with long-time friend and ally-turned nemesis Mosley in arguing that KERS defeats the object of trying to cut costs.
“I have always been against KERS,” the sport's ringmaster and commercial rights-holder told British newspaper the Daily Telegraph
. “Whatever they use in F1 they won't use in a road car, but if that is to be the idea then why not develop it in touring cars? It costs a lot of money when we are trying to save it.”
Ecclestone was similarly outspoken in his belief that teams should have budgetary freedom amidst talk of a universal cap on their spending – provided
they commit their long-term future to F1, in the wake of Honda's shock withdrawal at the beginning of last month.
He also insisted there would be no problem if there are just 18 cars on the starting grid for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne in March rather than 20, claiming 'it is about drivers, not teams'.
“We are not pessimistic in the slightest,” the 78-year-old billionaire urged. “Nine teams won't make any difference.
“I always said we should give all those fancy engineers gold-plated consoles and send them off somewhere to play. That's all they do anyway, and it would be far cheaper. We could get the real job done.
“If the manufacturers are prepared to make a long-term commitment, say seven-to-ten years, we should let them spend what they want to spend, providing they supply engines and gearboxes at an affordable price.
“Whether they will commit to that I don't know. Getting them to agree on anything has always been the problem – but if they did it would prevent the kind of thing we have seen with Honda because we could sue the arse off them if they left. They wouldn't like that.”