Formula One could be facing an 18-car grid at the US Grand Prix in Austin next weekend, amid claims that neither Caterham not Marussia will make the trip to Texas.

While Caterham's struggles have been well documented in recent days, Marussia is also understood to be struggling financially, and only ran one car in this month's inaugural Russian Grand Prix, although that was presented as a mark of respect for Jules Bianchi, who had been involved in an horrific accident at the Japanese Grand Prix the weekend before.

Bernie Ecclestone, the sport's promoter - and the man who stands to face a potential backlash if the grid falls below the contracted 20 cars - has said that, in his estimation, neither team will be present at the Circuit of the Americas, with several outlets reporting that he had given Caterham dispensation to miss both the US and Brazilian grands prix, ostensibly to buy time for the team's administrator - London-based Smith & Williamson - to find a solution to its current problems.

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"Neither of those two teams is going to go to America," Ecclestone told Reuters on Saturday.

While Marussia remained uncontactable, Caterham confirmed that any decision on its participation would be taken by the administrator, currently led by Finbarr O'Connell.

"Mr Ecclestone [has] agreed to give dispensation to Caterham F1 such that it could, if necessary, miss the US and Brazilian Grands Prix, but hoped that a new owner would be in a position to race the team at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix," a statement issued by the administrator claimed.

After several false starts, Marussia's absence would likely mean another near miss for US F1 hopeful Alexander Rossi, whom many saw as the favourite to fill Bianchi's seat alongside Max Chilton in Austin. The American joined Marussia mid-season, having previously been a part of Caterham's driver development pool.

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The only reason Bernie is letting Caterham & Marussia skip the next couple of races is because otherwise they would be in default of contract and lose their grid slots as a result.
And in the case of Caterham, their grid slots are the only tangible asset they actually have left.