Famously outspoken F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that he 'would be glad' were there to be one less team in the top flight in 2011 – and confessed that he would equally shed few tears if the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) was to disband.
Following a campaign of having only 20 cars on the grand prix grid due to the demise of Super Aguri in mid-2008, the F1 field has swelled to 24 in 2010 thanks to the arrival of newcomers Lotus, Virgin and Hispania (HRT).
With a stipulated maximum figure of 26 places, there is currently a bidding process underway to welcome another new team into the fold next season, but Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive Ecclestone has hinted that he would be happier were the sport to lose a competitor rather than gain one.
“I would be glad,” the British billionaire told Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport
. “There is a long list of teams that want to be in F1. Whether they have the ability and the resources is another story.”
That is a scarcely-veiled allusion to the struggles – both in terms of performance and also finances – of the new entries this year, with Hispania and to a lesser extent Virgin both finding it particularly tough at the top.
However, it is not just ill-prepared teams that Ecclestone is keen to see the back of, with the commercial rights-holder also hitting out at FOTA, which last summer embroiled itself in a fierce political battle with then FIA President Max Mosley over the Englishman's controversial and ultimately unsuccessful budget cap initiative – and which is currently seemingly in the midst of another row after competitors were ordered to remove all sponsor-branded trucks from the Silverstone paddock ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix.
“The teams wanted to divide F1, but now they understand that it is good to give importance to the money that they get [from FOM],” the 79-year-old contended. “There is no space for FOTA...”