Just a day on from Renault having joined the bunch of teams threatening to quit over the FIA's contentious £40 million optional budget cap, Flavio Briatore has gone on the offensive in blasting that 'whoever has €20 million or €25 million should not be able to operate a Formula 1 team' and claiming that 'without big, important names Formula 1 is worth much less'.
Renault's statement that it too will not be lodging an entry form for 2010 should the governing body refuse to back down over its unpopular new initiative – one that it is feared will engender a 'two-tier' system within the top flight of haves and have-nots – brings the number of potential absentees next season to six, with Ferrari, Toyota, Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Toro Rosso and BMW-Sauber all similarly staunchly opposed to the cap.
Though the Enstone-based outfit's managing director Briatore has long been in favour of cost-cutting within what is the world's most glamorous and expensive sport, he argues that the step introduced by FIA President Max Mosley is too much, too soon, with some teams currently spending in the region of £150 million to £200 million a year.
The Italian has been outspoken in his criticism of the FIA for failing to adequately consult competitors over the drastic changes, and contended that not only will the move likely result in the exit of many of F1's biggest names, but it will also open the door to outfits that are not genuinely of a high-enough standard.
“Whoever has €20 million or €25 million should not be able to operate a Formula 1 team,” the 59-year-old told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag
. “If we make that possible, the brand will be worth nothing. It would be like seeing discount stores suddenly established on an exclusive shopping street.
“Without big, important names – and Ferrari is one of them – Formula 1 is worth much less. I could imagine that FOTA (the Formula One Teams' Association) – not in 2010, but starting from 2011 – will agree with the FIA on a minimum sum per year, that is obligatory for all the teams. A brutal solution, that is before us at the moment, doesn't have a chance.”
FOTA has called for 'urgent' talks with Mosley on the matter ahead of next weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, with a mooted boycott of the 29 May deadline by which all entrants must sign up to the 2010 championship.