Ferrari technical director Aldo Costa has admitted that running a third car would not be possible in the short term, despite the continual push for such a scenario from team president Luca di Montezemolo.
Originally conceived as a stop-gap measure to provide a full grid even as the major manufacturers were staging a mass exit from the top flight, the prospect of fielding a third entry has become something of a hobby horse for di Montezemolo, who has maintained that it should be considered regardless of the number of teams currently competing.
With Renault saved from joining BMW, Toyota and Honda in departing F1, and three new teams - Lotus, HRT and Virgin - joining the fray, the top flight boasts twelve teams, with the prospect of a 13th arriving in 2011. That fulfils FOM's obligation to promoters, and the issue of third cars continues to divide the paddock. Costa refuses to shy away from the possibility of Ferrari fielding another entry alongside Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, but insists that it would not be possible - even next year.
"I don't know what to comment, really," he admitted, "I think Mr Montezemolo's proposal was done in case there were not many cars on the grid, so big teams would have been available to run three cars. That's what he thinks.
"I'm convinced that, with a good notice period we can do it, [but] not this year. It would not be possible for us to run three cars, not even next year, because [of] the current resource restrictions we are running with minimal spares, with very few chassis. I think all teams will be obliged to do that so, overnight, we could not run a third car. If we were well programmed, however, we are keen and available."
Peter Sauber and Colin Kolles, respectively in charge of the smaller Sauber and HRT teams, both admitted that running three cars would not be for them, even with enough notice, claiming that the field was healthy enough with twelve teams.
"For me, two [cars] are enough," Kolles insisted, "We wouldn't do three cars. I think doing three cars is more for the top teams. We are not in a position to run three cars."
Force India's Vijay Mallya, however, underlined his team's growing reputation as one of the bigger - and better - outfits by suggesting that he would consider a third entry.
"I'm obviously concerned with the number of cars on the grid," he indicated, "At certain tracks, I personally feel that the number of cars we currently have are perhaps a tad too much, or too many, but I'm not opposed to the idea of a third car at all. The incremental cost of building and running a third car is not that great, so if the need arises, we're quite happy to do it."