Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner insists that there is any desire to push the smaller teams out of F1, despite claims to the contrary from smaller rivals.
Sauber's Monisha Kaltenborn revealed during the Interlagos weekend that the sport's comparative minnows were beginning to feel more and more unwanted, with the 'big guns' working to remove them from the field with an eye to introducing customer teams to bulk out the grid in future seasons.
“Looking at the proposals which have been made, we have to believe that there is some agenda here,” Kaltenborn said after another frustrating round of negotiations between the teams and promoter Bernie Ecclestone produced little in the way of progress in Brazil.
“The agenda seems to be that people are looking at four or five names to remain in here and when ideas are offered to us of a year-old chassis or engines which maybe are a different spec or a different series, there must be an agenda.”
Horner, however, insisted that there was no move to oust the smaller teams, claiming that he – and Red Bull – would prefer to see the grid remain as it is at present.
“Our position is that we want to see a full grid of two car teams,” he maintained, “We have an obligation - as do a couple of other teams - that, if the numbers drop below a certain number, then we will be required by the promoter to field a third car - but the numbers haven't dropped significantly low enough and we haven't been requested by the promoter to run a third car. That is the situation, but our preference is that we have ten healthy competing two-car teams.”
Admitting that RBR would only look at the implications of running a third car as and when requested to do so, Horner still confirmed that previously mooted figures were close to what the team believed would be needed to field an extra entry.
“If there was a request to run a third car, we couldn't do it within our existing budget,” he pointed out, “I think the [Mercedes and McLaren] guys' numbers are pretty accurate,
Dodging a question asking whether Red Bull would be more willing to run a third car if the cost was met by someone else, specifically the promoter, Horner repeated the fact that he was not a fan of three car teams.
“I think it is [moving away from what F1 should be,” he noted, “But, if there is no option, no alternative, then Red Bull has a commitment that, yes, we would have to field a third car.”
With assorted remedies to F1's ills doing the rounds, Horner also tried to play down suggestions that the sport could return to its previous engine formula.
“I think [stepping back] is extremely unlikely but, if we were rational about it, then, yes, we would,” he admitted, “Nobody ever likes to go backwards, but I think, sometimes, you've got to look at it that desperate means require desperate measures. Looking at the cost of these  power units, how sustainable is it for all of the teams? And, indeed, for the manufacturers?”
Horner is currently fighting another engine-related battle, keen to see Renault (and Ferrari) allowed as big an opportunity to achieve parity with Mercedes as possible. As with talks over the future of the smaller teams, discussions on opening up a second development window for engines also appeared locked in stalemate in Brazil.
“It's rather frustrating,” Horner sighed. “We sit down and talk about things and you leave the room thinking you've agreed something - and then it all changes. We spent a long time talking about it, and we've agreed a position twice now - and then it constantly changes.
“I think there's an awful lot of frustration now between the teams. It's a ridiculous situation that we can't find a solution to, so I really have no idea what the outcome will be - I think you probably need to ask Mercedes their reasoning behind it.”
Obviously irritated, and admitting that there was little point to further meetings, Horner acknowledged that Red Bull's most likely alternative could be to endure another season in pursuit of Mercedes in exchange for opening up development for 2016 and beyond.
“There's no guarantees that we can close that gap significantly to Mercedes, but not having the opportunity to do so, that's the thing that seems pretty unpalatable,” he concluded.