Hot on the heels of warnings from both Ferrari and BMW – and a downright ultimatum from Toyota – about the possible fall-out from the implementation of the controversial new budget cap in Formula 1, Red Bull energy drinks magnate Dietrich Mateschitz has suggested that of the current grid, 'only two or three will remain'.
Whilst opposition to the £40 million cap – ratified by a World Motor Sport Council meeting in Paris just under a fortnight ago – could perhaps have been expected from the top flight's five manufacturers, the concern expressed by private outfits such as Brawn GP and Williams has been more telling.
The general consensus appears to be that the move will create a confusing 'two-tier' championship, divided into haves and have-nots as those competitors that adhere to the cap benefit from technical freedoms unavailable to their unlimited-budget rivals. Such a scenario, it appears, is something that nobody wants – and Mateschitz's assertion that the initiative would send Red Bull, currently second in the 2009 F1 constructors' standings, scurrying for the exit door too is worrying indeed.
“If the proposed rules for 2010 stay unchanged, we will not take part in the 2010 championship,” the Austrian billionaire – who owns both Red Bull Racing and 'junior' outfit Scuderia Toro Rosso – told the Salzburger Nachrichten
newspaper. “Teams [backed by] manufacturers will no longer take part. Of the teams now, only two or three will remain.”
That contention flies firmly in the face of the argument laid out by Max Mosley after the idea was formally approved at the end of last month. It now seems the FIA President's conviction in the merits of the cap may have been somewhat misplaced.
“If [we don't do it] we're going to lose a lot of the teams,” the 68-year-old had argued. “People simply cannot in the current economic conditions get enough money to survive without it. I suspect that when they see the figures, everybody will want to come in under the cost cap. When they see the detail, I think they may find it attractive, because everybody needs to save money.”
The Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) has demanded 'urgent' talks with Mosley on the matter.