Amidst earnest calls from Max Mosley for Formula 1 to reduce its costs – and fast – in an age of increasing financial uncertainty, the sport's teams have urged that any 'knee-jerk reaction' to the current credit crunch sweeping the globe would likely be 'catastrophic'.
Earlier this year – before the international economic crisis was even the stark reality it is now – FIA President Mosley announced that at its current rate of expenditure F1 was 'unsustainable' in the future. In May, Super Aguri became the tenth team in the top flight to collapse in the space of the last 15 years.
So far this season teams have spent a combined total of $1.6 billion according to a report from industry monitor Formula Money
, and Mosley demanded they get together to come up with means by which to radically cut costs and improve efficiency by 2010 at the latest…or else risk seeing the $4.7 billion sport become no longer 'credible' and disintegrate.
“Very crudely expressed, one of the teams at the back of the grid cannot possibly hope to raise more than – including the money they get from Bernie [Ecclestone] – let's say £30-35 million,” he told BBC Sport
. “In the real world [that] is a huge sum of money, but that's the most they can raise.
“To compete today, they need two or three times that and even then they're at the back of the grid. You can't run a business where the outgoings are two to three times the income – not for very long.
“We've already got two gaps, [and] we're likely to lose two or three more of the independent teams. Formula 1 cannot continue like that; that's been obvious for some time.
“Some of the manufacturers may be in difficulty now as well, if you look at their share prices, their profitability, their sales. I think we can survive through 2009, but if we don't get it done in 2010, we may be in serious problems.
“It isn't prompted by the credit crunch. This is something [for which] I've been campaigning for two or three years.”
To that end, the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) was created, with the remit to bring down spending on engines and gearboxes in particular – or have the sport's governing body impose its own rules and regulations. A meeting has been scheduled between FOTA and the FIA following next weekend's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.
F1's commercial rights-holder Ecclestone, for his part, has been championing the introduction of a standard design engine – the engine being traditionally one of the most costly areas – but with many of the teams backed by major car manufacturers, that idea has been met with distinctly muted enthusiasm to say the least. This year a 'freeze' was implemented on engine development, with all powerplants moreover having to last for two grands prix weekends.