BMW-Sauber star Robert Kubica has spoken out about the escalating conflict between governing body the FIA and the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) over the controversial budget cap – arguing that if Ferrari and some of the other major manufacturers were to walk away from the top flight, they would be forgotten about 'very quickly'.
Whilst BMW has not declared outright that it would withdraw should the governing body press ahead with its unpopular initiative – which many contend would engender a confusing 'two-tier' championship of haves and have-nots, and likely penalise the larger and better-funded organisations in granting greater technical freedoms to those that do subscribe to the £40 million limit – the Bavarian outfit's motorsport president Dr Mario Theissen has argued that 'in one go you cannot just evaporate by a factor of three' given that some competitors currently spend in excess of £150 million per season.
Ferrari, Renault, Toyota and Red Bull are all seemingly prepared to rebel over the issue in pulling out entirely, with the former in particular taking the dispute to another level in unsuccessfully seeking an injunction against the regulation change in a French court and subsequently threatening further civil proceedings.
, indeed, has been the most vocal in its opposition to the cap, but FIA President Max Mosley – due to hold further crisis talks with FOTA in Monte Carlo this weekend – has asserted that 'the sport would survive without Ferrari', its longest-standing and most loyal entrant as the only one to have competed without interruption since the world championship officially began back in 1950...and Kubica, who was himself linked with a possible future in scarlet only last year, agrees.
“It is not a long time ago that most of the teams were not big manufacturers and car companies,” the Pole told international news agency Reuters
ahead of the 2009 Monaco Grand Prix, the undisputed jewel in the F1 crown. “The car companies were delivering engines but the teams were run by privateers. If there is no Ferrari or no other car manufacturers, everyone will forget about them very quickly.
“Of course, the picture will change. I remember when Michael [Schumacher – record-breaking seven-time world champion] was retiring and everyone said Formula 1 would not be the same. I think in a very short time, once the season had started, nobody was thinking anymore that there was no Michael – the races were still entertaining and very nice, so Formula 1 goes on.”
Returning his attentions to the action on-track rather than the political squabbling away from it, Kubica reflected that it had been a torrid start to the year for both himself and BMW with, incredibly, the 24-year-old still to register his first points five races in and yet to even take the chequered flag inside the top ten – having entered the campaign as an expected title contender.
For the man who delivered the Munich and Hinwil-based concern its breakthrough triumph in the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal just under a year ago, it has been a spectacular fall from grace. After losing half of the opening practice day in Monaco to engine woes and with the underperforming F1.09 still showing no real pace thus far due to a distinct lack of grip around the narrow, tortuous streets of the Principality, Kubica fears his account may remain closed a little while longer yet.
In 2008, the Kraków native ascended the Monte Carlo rostrum in second place, but if he is writing off his chances of a repeat result twelve months on, he is refusing to completely write off his championship hopes as well – even if it has been 'not the ideal start' to his challenge for glory.