Force India team owner Dr Vijay Mallya has spoken encouragingly about the not only the future of his own squad, but also the years ahead for Formula One as a whole.
The past two weeks have been somewhat momentous for the sport, with the demise of the Honda team catching many unawares and prompting renewed talks about cutting the cost of competing in the top flight, which led to the raft of changes announced in Monaco on Friday. Mallya, welcoming the proposals put forward by the FIA and FOTA, and approved by the World Motor Sport Council, is optimistic that the sport will survive the effects of the credit crisis and emerge stronger on the other side.
"Clearly, one has to be concerned about what is happening in the world today," the Indian told BBC World Service
, "Honda's withdrawal was not a shock to me as I could well imagine that, on one hand, with global sales and profits under pressure, the first thing that any independent board member would say is 'what are you doing with an F1 team?'.
"It's unfortunate but true that we have to cut our costs and live in the real world and balance both income and expenditure. From the sponsor side as well, people are cutting down budgets, so it's not going to be very easy to get anyone to write out large cheques for sponsorship either. Force India is in a good enough position, it's a smaller team with a much smaller budget than the big boys and so it is probably relatively easier for us to manage under these circumstances."
Force India has been listed among those ready to sign up to Max Mosley's spec-engine initiative if it helps to maintain a limit on spending, and Mallya openly supports the ideas put forward by the FIA president while the teams themselves were failing to agree on a way forward.
"Absolutely, I support Max Mosley's initiatives totally," he confirmed, "This is long overdue in my view. As far as a standard engine is concerned, I think the view is that there can be an FIA-sponsored standard engine, but other engine manufacturers could build engines to their own specifications. In any case, the engine costs have come down already in 2009 and are slated to come down even more in 2010, and it is reaching the objective of Max Mosley's cost-cutting.
"If you look at today, you know the engine doesn't make a huge difference. They are all pretty good and almost equal. There are a couple that are probably better than the others, but it is not such a great performance differentiator."
While he insists that his own team is not going to follow Honda out of Formula One's exit door, Mallya stops short of predicting that the rest of the grid will remain intact for 2009, but maintains that the sport would not necessarily be damaged should there be another victim of the 'credit crunch'.
"I don't think that we will reach such a drastic or severe situation," he claimed, "I firmly believe that, if another team drops out, the grid will still be competitive and attractive and I don't think that the interest in F1 will disappear.