Like MotoGP, the answer will be different depending on the person asked and their relationship with the championship, but this is how a young F1 engineer described the purpose of a Formula One team at the start of a guest lecture for engineering students at a British university, around five years ago.
"The purpose of a Formula One team is to generate income for its sponsors."
No mention of winning races or world championships, although those are presumably the best - but far from only - methods of maximising income for sponsors. The engineer is now the technical director of a major British-based F1 team.
And just how important is the hi-tech argument for the likes of F1 and MotoGP anyway?
After all, as long as a MotoGP machine continues to lap a circuit faster than any other racing motorcycle then most fans will perceive it to be technically superior, whatever the actual cost of its individual components.
Perhaps MotoGP should remember the following phrase, used to combat objections to F1s increasingly strict technical regulations - including a single tyre supplier and a freeze on engine development:
'Put all the engineers on one side of a room and all the drivers on the other, then let the fans in and see who they go and talk to.'
But could a balance have been struck whereby tyre competition was allowed to continue in MotoGP?
Tyres are the single most important component of a racing motorcycle, yet there are no technical restrictions on things like materials or construction, only a maximum rim width. Compare that with the detailed fuel regulations, for example, which list the precise chemical composition allowed.
Might a way have been found to restrict large areas of tyre development, in the same way that other areas of a motorcycle are limited, thereby reducing the potential performance difference between brands? Could corner speed have been addressed by limiting the amount of compound difference allowed between the middle and sides of a tyre for example?
That might have addressed the safety/corning speed issue highlighted as the official reason, along with costs, for introducing the new rule - although Michelin stated that it was never given a chance to make any proposals:
"Michelin regrets not being able to contribute to the organisers' important discussions to improve rider safety and reduce costs," said part of a statement announcing that Michelin would not bid for the exclusive 2009 tyre rights.
Bridgestone is set to be officially announced as the exclusive MotoGP tyre supplier by October 18.