Bernie Ecclestone has issued a stark warning to all twelve teams currently competing in motorsport's top flight: life isn't quite as wonderful as it may appear.

Speaking in his traditional pre-season interview with the official F1 website, the sport's ringmaster was insistent that even the richest team on the grid needed to wake up to the fact that most of the world was in recession and rethink how it spent its money, not just for its own benefit but for that of the sport in general.

Although frontrunners such as Red Bull and McLaren do not appear to be suffering financial problems, the likes of Marussia and HRT - and even Caterham - at the other end of the field have either struggled to get their new cars ready for pre-season testing, or been tempted to sign well-heeled drivers - or both.

"There are still too many people in F1 running around with rose-tinted glasses," Ecclestone claimed, "They obviously like to see the world as they want it to be - wonderful, the sun is shining, isn't life delightful - and not how it is. The downside of these glasses is that they blind you to reality.

"The teams have to learn to be competitive without tonnes of money. They have to refocus again on the basics - on racing, spending on the sport - and not on baronial motorhomes and all kinds of entertainment. Change the colour of your glasses and tighten your belts. Stop spending more than you need to."

The 82-year old, who has already revisited the suggestion that 'customer cars' been permitted for the smaller teams see story here], revealed that he would not be opposed to some sort of budget cap to ensure that all teams were operating on a more level playing field - but admitted that there was little chance of persuading the richer teams to slash their spending power to match that of the comparative minnows.

"We have had this kind of problem for quite a while now as, of course, they spend what they have," Ecclestone acknowledged, "You could install a mandatory budget for all teams - on the basis of the smaller teams - but they [the big teams] don't like it and fiercely fight against it."

Although a similar idea was proposed by former FIA president - and Ecclestone acolyte - Max Mosley, it met with stern opposition from the bigger teams and was dropped in exchange for concessions on technology. The original plan was then replaced with the equally contentious Resource Restriction Agreement, debate over which has already seen several teams - including frontrunners Red Bull and Ferrari - quit constructors' association FOTA. Ecclestone, however, suggests the idea could be revived and included in the next version of the binding concorde Agreement.

"I would welcome it [and], yes, I think it could happen," he admitted, "We are in the middle of discussions [but] money [is the weak point], of course. They want to get more money - to be able to spend more!

"Everybody wants to win, no? The better you do on the track, the better your image will be. They all have to understand this message at the end of the day. I don't play any games. Rather, I try to look into everybody's head to find out what they need and what's the best for them.

"[However], it is very difficult to find a consensus between all the parties involved. Take everyday life - it is already difficult to find consent between two people. Then try that with twelve team principals!"

Despite his concerns, however, Ecclestone takes against the derogatory terms used to describe the likes of Pastor Maldonado, Vitaly Petrov and Charles Pic, who have all arrived in the top flight in recent seasons on the back of sizeable sponsorship budgets.

"I don't like the phrase 'pay driver'," he insisted, "They have deep-pocketed sponsors who support them. What's wrong with that? I have never seen a driver giving his own money for a ride...."


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