Jean Todt says he is against the idea to introduce customer cars as a way of ensuring F1 teams remain on the grid, but says he is open to the idea of providing access to technologies.
Raised as a solution to the threat of dwindling grids, customer cars have nonetheless received staunch criticism from various figures in the paddock, with the FIA President agreeing that he doesn't think it is the way to go for F1.
“I hate customer cars,” he said. “I think the fascination of F1 that you have the firm ground that everyone participates on. Group A, Group B is fine, but in different categories.
Instead, Todt believes there is a way that technologies could be made more available to smaller teams, adding that the move by Haas to work closely with Ferrari in the run up to its proposed debut next year is 'smart'.
“If we can find a way to facilitate access to certain technologies and development, I am not absolutely against that.
“I think they [Haas] have been smart – that is the only thing I can say. Both sides [including Ferrari] have been smart. It is an interpretation of the regulations, but as long as you follow the regulations [it is fine].
“So that's why sometimes you end up with different interpretation [of the regulations]. You plan on forcing and in this case, once you assess it, you need to decide whether to strengthen or modify the regulation. As Ferrari, we can only say that at the moment it has been a clever agreement.”
Indeed, Todt says he is disappointed by the loss of Caterham as an example, adding that he wants to ensure no team falls from the grid. However, at the same time, he says he needs teams to understand the challenges they face when choosing to enter the sport.
“It's not in my hands,” he said. “This is why we were so much supportive of Manor to stay, I hate to see somebody leave. For me it was a disappointment to see Caterham leaving. Maybe they underestimated what was F1. People think 'let's go, we have money to do this', it's not true.
“The competition is very difficult, very tough and to get to be competitive is very difficult. When you are competitive, to stay competitive is difficult. That is why it is unfair when it is so easy for Mercedes, they do a great job, it is the only thing you can say.
“I really hope that Lotus, Force India, Renault, Manor can stay, but it is not in my hands. What is unfair that they say, they know it is F1, they knew when they accepted a deal that was not as favourable to them than some others, what the cost is of F1.”
Todt went further, adding that he is frustrated to see figures make 'fake' reasons for wanting to leave F1 when they are simply not winning.
“I think it is unfair, I would say 'fake reasons' to explain why you are not happy, why you want to go, why you cannot stay. They may be reasons, but at least we should really say 'I want to win… I cannot win, I am going to leave'. The Concorde Agreement comes every 7-8 years - you have signed an agreement, then you have to respect the agreement.”