A 'worried' Fernando Alonso has pleaded with Formula 1's authorities to consider 'how much damage the sport has had in the past two months' over the escalating budget cap row and political infighting – warning that should the controversial and drastic cost-cutting initiative go ahead, the top flight is in genuine danger of 'disappearing'.
Further crisis talks are set to be held between the FIA, Formula One Management (FOM) commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone and competitors in the guise of the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) in Monte Carlo ahead of this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, with Max Mosley adamant that there can be 'no compromise' on the unpopular cap, and the teams conversely arguing that the move would engender a 'fundamentally unfair and perhaps even biased' two-tier F1 of haves and have-nots, likely penalising larger and richer entrants.
To that end, Ferrari – whose bid for an in junction was thrown out by a French court yesterday (Wednesday) – Toyota, Red Bull and Alonso's employers Renault have all threatened to quit should the contentious new rules not be changed in time for the 2010 campaign, and the Spaniard has described the damage being done by the ongoing dispute as 'incalculable'.
With the FIA embarking upon a radical cost-cutting drive in an effort to significantly reduce spending in what is by some margin the world's most expensive sport and attract new, independent teams to make the graduation, interest has been expressed by such as iconic British marque Lola, a David Richards-led Prodrive/Aston Martin/UAE-branded entry, North Carolina-based US GPE, GP2 Series front-runners iSport International, DAMS and Campos, British F3 tail-enders Litespeed and Epsilon Euskadi, Wirth Research, RML and Formtech amongst others.
Echoing the sentiments expressed by Ferrari, however, Alonso suggested the lower calibre of those teams would correspondingly lower the value of F1 – to the extent that the sport as it is at the moment would likely die out altogether.
“I'm worried that F1 might disappear,” the double F1 World Champion is quoted as having said by The Associated Press
and the BBC
. “If seven teams go, Formula 1 disappears. For me, it is strange [that] no-one has sat down and thought about how much we are damaging the sport, how much damage the sport has had in the last two months. It is very worrying.
“To have those three or four new teams and to lose seven of the big manufacturers, I cannot understand, and not just losing the seven manufacturers, but with unknown drivers it's over; you'll lose the ten best drivers in the world. F1 would not be interesting. If the big teams and the big manufacturers leave F1 then I don't want to race with the small teams. It is not F1 anymore, and there are many other categories.
“The drivers are hoping everything will be settled in the next weeks. If not, Formula 1 is finished – the sport will turn into GP2 with a little more pace, but there won't be any interest in it as an event. In the last few years we've had great years of Formula 1, with the best names and best drivers. There was a time in the '50s and '60s that drivers arrived with the backing of sponsors. Now, we're 20 privileged individuals who have won the right.”
Backing Ferrari's call for more gradual change in the regulations to allow the existing teams – some of whom currently spend in the region of £150 million to £200 million a year – to adjust more comfortably to the considerably lower new limit, Alonso added that the continuing uncertainty had to some extent taken his mind off this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, a race in which he is twice a previous winner. He also dropped hints that once he does leave F1, the iconic, round-the-clock Le Mans 24 Hours is a challenge he would consider taking on.
“Last week when I was at home, it was impossible to disconnect from this or switch off because I didn't know whether it would be my last time racing in Monaco,” underlined the man from Oviedo. “I hope to race in more than just one race per year, but obviously I am 27, I have been two-times world champion and I would like to win more categories and more series. I'm not worried about finding myself unemployed, because I believe I'll always have an opportunity to drive.”
With the official stipulated deadline for 2010 entries to be lodged approaching fast on 29 May, Red Bull Racing rival Mark Webber similarly expressed his fears that the withdrawal threats are not merely hot air, and laid the blame at the door of the 'serious egos' involved in the stand-off, insisting: “It's difficult to keep talking positive about it (Formula 1) when we wash our clothes in public so often.”