Force India owner Vijay Mallya insists that talk of possible three-car teams masks the real issue not being tackled F1 at the moment.
F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone raised the possibility of teams being forced to field a third car as early as next year amid paddock rumour that several of the smaller outfits may not survive into 2015, but Mallya is adamant that the spotlight should be turned on the reasons why survival has become the hot topic, rather than planning for the aftermath of any untimely exits.
Ecclestone opened the Singapore Grand Prix weekend by revealing that he would rather see the powerhouse teams fielding three cars than see the current backmarkers simply making up the numbers, but those comments did not sit well with Mallya, who believes that there is a simple solution to eradicating the question of survival at the tail end of the field.
Having already given a brief synopsis of his views during Friday's team principals' press conference, the Indian treated journalists to a deeper insight into his thinking in the wake of Sunday's race.
“I know that's its being talked about at every race, talked about at every opportunity in the F1 paddock, about whether certain teams will survive or not, [but] why is there this uncertainty?” he pondered, “It is because of an imbalance and irrationality in the way the revenues are shared.
“The big teams take a major slice, and he smaller teams get less as a result. That is what is adding to all this speculation, so the best way of doing it is to make a more rational formula which gives everybody a chance, not just to survive, but to compete and make F1 even more interesting.”
While again enjoying relative success on a smaller budget than the frontrunners, Mallya repeat his mantra that third cars were not in the sport's DNA, and insisted that every effort should be made to avoid the situation where they would be required from even arising.
“I have never said, or talked about, the rationale for revenue sharing in F1 to ensure competitiveness,” he pointed out, “I can't afford to talk about that myself [as] I spend half the money [of others] but still I am racing with McLaren. Williams probably spends half the money and is front of Ferrari, so I have never gone down that path of telling people that F1's revenue sharing mechanism should make people competitive - let each team decide that on its own. But this constant question of survivability, and then the follow-on questions like three cars etc, should, in my view, be eliminated once and for all as it's not good for the sport!
“The DNA of F1 has always had works teams and always had private teams, and I don't know any private team that has outspent a works team for the last 30-40 years... The DNA of F1 is the days of Jack Brabham, old McLaren and March and Williams, when Frank was running the team... These are stories that give you goosebumps as they're so exciting – 'revolution'!
“Now it's not a question of technical development or driver development - the one constant question up and down the paddock is 'who will survive and who will not?' and that's very unfortunate...”
The spectre of three-car teams also raises the possibility of the remaining 'minnows' being frozen out of the spotlight, according to Mallya – a situation that could have an all-too familiar outcome as the giants hog the headlines, sponsors and revenue rewards.
“This year, you have all the Mercedes way ahead of everyone else and, in the last few years, you had the Red Bulls way ahead of everyone else, so now you want the entire podium occupied by one team?” he asked, “Doesn't make too much sense does it?
Pressed on the financial commitment required to field a third car, Mallya insisted that he would not be willing to take the hit alone.
“We would demand compensation to build a third car - we're not going to do it just for free!” he stated, “I am sure the commercial rights holder realises that they've got to make it economically viable. Let them come up with something that addresses all these concerns...
“I've not been discussing any detail yet, but Mr Ecclestone is smart and I'm sure he'll come up with some solution, although ultimately everybody has to toe the line. You can shout as much as you want, but….”
Mallya's views on three-car teams are not unique, with the majority of team owners seemingly unwilling to openly embrace the concept.
“We obviously all look for what will keep all the teams onboard,” McLaren's Eric Boullier commented, “That's the first priority. There are some mechanisms [where], if some teams were not on the grid, we would maybe run three cars to keep the grid at a decent number, but I don't think we are there yet.”
Claire Williams shared Mallya's belief that more should be done to protect the teams currently experiencing difficulties.
“I think that, to be having this conversation now, shows where we are as a sport,” she opined, “We need to be working harder to ensure that we protect the teams that we have on our grid to ensure that competition that I don't necessarily think having three-car teams brings. I think we want to have a healthy grid of ten teams, all fielding two cars, not four teams fielding three cars. For Williams, that's not the DNA of our sport.”
While Sauber's Monisha Kaltenborn adamantly insisted that, after 21 years in the top flight, he team would 'be around next year', recently-installed Caterham team principal Manfredi Ravetto insisted that it was all hands to the pump at Leafield.
“Everybody knows the situation in which we found this team, and we are just trying to keep it alive to improve and we are working on providing you with some details on the programme for next year,” he noted, “This is what we are targeting. Of course we want to be on the grid in Melbourne next year – that is definitely our goal.”