With the uncertainty of a breakaway series and the future of the smaller teams in Formula One still swirling as the circus rode into town at Indianapolis, senior figures in the leading teams have all pledged their commitment to the top flight.

Although it was never clear whether that commitment was to F1 as it currently stands, or to the proposed rival series being penned by the GPWC, each of the manufacturer-backed squads insisted that they were in the sport for the long haul.

"I think the strategy of BMW or our commitment to Formula One was made very clear earlier this year, when we entered into a new partnership with Williams for another five years," motorsport director Mario Theissen insisted, "We are committed to be in Formula One until at least 2009, and this goes along with an increase of our effort which we put behind it. We will go beyond the role of an engine supplier supporting Williams and in several other areas, getting much closer together with Williams, which in total tells everybody that BMW is very committed to Formula One."

The sport's two Japanese representatives - Honda and Toyota - both stressed that they were already looking to the future.

"Honda is committed to Formula One," said Otmar Szafnauer, "We have had a contract with BAR - a three-year contract which ends next year. However, in due course, early next year, we will look at the options that we have with BAR. We have a two-year option, and we'll start discussing the details of that option at the appropriate time with a view to extending it. So we're committed to Formula One. We will be here - there are no plans at the moment to pull out."

Toyota team manager Ange Pasquali was equally adamant.

"I think that the commitment of Toyota is definitely a full commitment in Formula One," he said, "When we stopped the Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans project and rallying, it was a big decision obviously, but, at that time, we were around 250 people in the motorsport division in Cologne. Now we have passed over 600 people. So this shows the commitment. Toyota has always said it was a long commitment in Formula One."

Renault technical director Pat Symonds was of similar mind, underlining the French company's total involvement in the category.

"Renault is a full manufacturer - our Formula One team is a hundred per cent Renault," he stressed, "It's not a question of an engine supplier to a chassis manufacturer, it is fully Renault. That is a huge commitment and not one that the board of Renault takes lightly. I think our commitment to Formula One is self-evident, really."

Theissen's rival at fellow German giant Mercedes, Norbert Haug, insisted that McLaren's engine supplier would also be around long-term, but admitted that certain areas of the sport needed to change if it was to keep attracting the major players.

"We definitely have a long-term commitment to Formula One," Haug said, "We don't have a contract that ends in X or Y, so we are long-term committed.

"Having said that, I want to add that, for the future Formula One, we need to discuss cost reductions, we need to set ourselves limits and this is, for me, a very important baseline. Conclusions are imminent, but they have to be taken sooner rather than later.

"I also think all of us know that we need to do a much better job in the future for the spectators. I think we have a very good season in terms of sport - and that is fantastic - but a lot of things can be improved and I hope there are fruitful discussions in place. We shouldn't underestimate the fact that we need to raise our game. I have to stress that we need to be closer to the customer. We need to do more for the spectators and so on.

"We all know that, but we need to come to conclusions and in a way it's a shame that everything is blocked because you need unanimous decisions, which is not easy to achieve. Look at test bans, look at limited testing, look at rules, look at whatever, and I think people need to sit down and realise that, if we are blocking each other, that's certainly not good for the future of the sport. The sport has shown what it can achieve - I think this season has showed that."

 

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