McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has reiterated the importance of cost control measures in F1, arguing that the sport can't underestimate the importance of the smaller teams on the grid.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo had again said over the weekend that the sport would be better off if top teams were to run three cars in place of some of the smaller teams on the grid [See separate story HERE
], but Whitmarsh insisted that keeping costs down to aid the smaller outfits was vital for the sport.
“The statistics that I live by are the ones that since McLaren entered Formula One it's been quite moderately successful - winning over a quarter of the races and on the podium for more than half of them - and during that time 101 teams have disappeared from the sport,” he said. “I think that really demonstrates the volatility of the sport. We have in the last few years evolved from being pretty much a sub-set of the automotive sector to being pretty well back to a more pure Formula One set of businesses.
“I think we shouldn't underestimate how tough it is for the smaller teams. It is fine for perhaps some of the bigger teams, who feel quite confident about their future, but the fact is we need ten or twelve teams in the sport to race against. I personally think that to generate grid size with three-car teams - I understand why some people are attracted to that, and if it was necessary it has some interest to McLaren - is the wrong solution for Formula One. Formula One requires the diversity of entry. And I think we therefore have to work hard to ensure that there are sustainable business models for all of the teams that are in Formula One.”
Whitmarsh was also quick to play down di Montezemolo's comments, insisting that it was simply a case of the Ferrari chief pushing his own views to the public.
“In fairness to Luca, I think Luca's an extremely charismatic figure within Ferrari, within Italy and within motorsport,” he said. “I know how off-the-cuff comments can be construed and amplified. I think he is passionate about Formula One. I think he's very proud of Ferrari's history and heritage, and he will inevitably push with great passion his personally-held opinions and views. I think on day-to-day business Formula One is much better when the teams and the governing body work together to design regulations.
“I think we've demonstrated over the last three years slightly calmer environments, without paying too much attention to external rhetoric, and I think we've made some good decisions. I think the show that we generate has improved, there is much more overtaking, and we've had some great races in the last two years. I think we should be very proud of that, and that's been achieved by the teams working together with the FIA to develop sporting and technical regulations to achieve those ends.”