FIA president Max Mosley has repeated his claim that Formula One needs to seriously consider slashing the amount of money it is spending if it is to survive as the top flight of world motorsport.
Speaking in an interview with the BBC
, Mosley gave those involved in F1 two years to achieve drastic cost-cutting measures, pointing out that the economic crisis rampaging around the globe was only making matters worse for a sport already renowned as a heavy spender.
On a day when the World Motor Sport Council was due to re-examine the debate over the use of 'customer cars' in Formula One, Mosley admitted that he feared for the future of some of the category's smaller teams, as the cost of competing continued to rise, seemingly out of control as the major manufacturers sought a winning edge.
"It has become apparent, long before the current difficulties, that Formula One was unsustainable," the president said, "It really is a very serious situation. If we can't get this done for 2010, we will be in serious difficulty. At the moment, we've got 20 cars but, if we lost two teams, we'd have 16; three teams, 14. It then would cease to be a credible grid.
"It depends, at the moment, on millionaires - or billionaires, as we don't have millionaires now - subsidising it, people like Vijay Mallya or Dietrich Mateschitz. Without them, those [smaller] teams wouldn't be there."
With three races to go in a season that has already seen one team, Super Aguri, go to the wall after being unable to raise the finance it needed not only to race, but to survive on a day-to-day basis, Mosley warned that it would not be long before the biggest teams, and the manufacturers behind them, felt pressure to cut back - or, worse still in the case of the manufacturers, to pull the plug on their F1 activities completely.
"The days when [the teams] could just toss out E100m, E200m, E400m a year - which is what Formula One costs those big companies - are finished," he insisted,
Toyota, the only team currently on the grid without an F1 win in its history, is rumoured to spend more than E400m a year, and its rivals at the front of the grid continue to throw money at minor developments that they believe could give them an edge. Although this season has seen seven different winners, only two teams realistically head to the grid with the expectation of taking the chequered flag, with the rest hoping for a lucky break in order to succeed.
Mosley has repeatedly called for the sport to cut costs, and has implemented measures such as multi-use engines and gearboxes, as well as imposing a freeze on engine development, in an effort to contain the teams, but insists that there are other areas where major savings could be made. He is now expected to engage in 'do or die' talks with the recently-formed Formula One Teams Association to hammer home his message.