A number of Formula 1 teams are embroiled now in a fight for mere survival in the wake of Honda's shock withdrawal from the top flight at the end of last week – that is the view of experts, who have predicted that 'the first thrown snowball' could just 'trigger an avalanche'.
Following Honda's announcement on Friday, there have been murmurings within F1 that any one of the sport's nine other teams could also disappear from the grid before the start of the 2009 campaign, with Toyota, Red Bull Racing, Renault and Williams believed to be those most likely to pull the plug on their grand prix projects.
FIA President Max Mosley – for some time a devoted advocate of the drastic need to reduce expenditure, and fast – has suggested that Honda may not be the last team to bite the dust [see separate story – click here
]. Others, it seems, tend to concur.
“A large portion of the teams face the question of survival,” recently-ousted Force India F1 team principal Colin Kolles told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag
, with legendary former triple world champion Niki Lauda adding in an interview with Sport Bild
that 'it is often the case that the first thrown snowball triggers an avalanche'.
“I can well imagine a chief executive like [Mercedes-Benz's] Dieter Zetsche thinking 'We have just become world champion, what more can we do?'” added ex-grand prix star and current VW motor racing representative Hans-Joachim Stuck.
Gerhard Berger, meanwhile, who re-sold his 50 per cent share in Scuderia Toro Rosso to parent company Red Bull last month, had few words of encouragement for Honda's hopes of selling.
“I know just how difficult it is nowadays to find sponsors,” the Austrian ten-time grand prix-winner mused. “Finding someone to buy a whole team? Forget it.”