Former FIA President Max Mosley has reiterated his fears for the future health of F1, as he expressed his concern that the longest season in the sport's history in 2011 will lead to fans losing interest and turning off their television screens – and warned that cost-cutting has still not gone nearly far enough.
With F1 2010 having already equalled the record for the greatest number of grands prix in a single campaign following the arrival of Korea, next year is set to shift the goalposts again with 20 races as India, too, joins the bill [click here
for the full calendar]. With the USA and Russia, amongst other countries, lining up to similarly come on-board in the near future, Sir Frank Williams recently remarked that he can foresee a 22-stop schedule before long. Mosley, however, contends the end result will only be to alienate fans.
“For me personally, it's too much,” he told German newspaper Welt
. “In my opinion, that's too many Sunday afternoons to expect people to dedicate to F1. At some point, it starts to become tiresome – and then if you start skipping a race here and there, it can quickly become a habit and it can snowball in terms of the TV ratings.”
As to the cost of competing in the top flight, Mosley – who was at the very forefront of the drive to slash escalating expenditure prior to stepping down from the most powerful position in the sport late last year – reveals that his qualms have scarcely been alleviated over the past twelve months, advocating a budget cap for 2012 and 2013 to avert a short-term 'crisis'.
“In January, 2008, I warned that without cost reduction it won't be only the small teams having problems,” he stressed. “It has arrived – Honda, BMW, Toyota and Renault have gone because the budgets are out-of-proportion. This continues to be true, and it worries me.
“There is the risk of a crisis in the short-term. Currently, a great season is being celebrated, but the future looks bleak. For 2011, you need $100 million, with $30 million or $40 million from Bernie Ecclestone, perhaps $20 million to $25 million from sponsors or the drivers. I'd say six teams are wondering where the rest is coming from. It's quite possible we'll lose two or three teams.”
This year, of course, F1 gained
three teams with the addition of Lotus, Virgin and Hispania (HRT) to the fray – all enticed by the Englishman's promise of a strictly-enforced but ultimately never implemented budget cap – and the 70-year-old is quick to decry Ecclestone's vitriolic criticism of the newcomers' efforts [see separate story – click here
], with the Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive more recently blaming his long-time ally and business associate Mosley for their struggles in 2010 [see separate story – click here
“I don't agree,” he underlined. “They need to be given time to improve. Virgin's development has been downright revolutionary – their car was built entirely without a wind tunnel, and that's a warning for the likes of McLaren because their wind tunnels are like running a small town. On the other hand, Virgin developed a car only with computer simulation and it's only two or three seconds slower. No-one can argue that the huge cost of the wind tunnels is justified.”