Amidst the ongoing dispute between the FIA and the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) over the controversial ?40 million budget cap Max Mosley intends to introduce into the top flight in 2010, it is not inconceivable that as many as six of the current competitors may be absent from competition next year.

Ferrari has been the most vociferous in its opposition to the cap, with the Scuderia's increasingly outspoken president - and FOTA president - Luca di Montezemolo arguing the initiative would be 'fundamentally unfair and perhaps even biased' in creating a two-tier championship of haves and have-nots, with those larger and better-funded operations likely to lose out as their capped rivals benefit from technical freedoms unavailable to the free-spending squads.

BMW Motorsport Director Dr Mario Theissen, for his part, has contended that 'in one go you cannot just evaporate by a factor of three', in allusion to the fact that some manufacturers currently spend in the region of ?150 million to ?200 million a year, and therefore would simply be incapable of reducing their expenditure by the required amount in time for the start of next season.

Toyota - whose long-term continued participation has been the subject of speculation for some time - Renault and Red Bull have similarly vowed to walk away should no satisfactory solution be found to the conflict and Mosley push ahead with his plans.

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