FIA President Jean Todt has admitted that some Formula 1 teams are in danger of folding and bowing out of the sport.
Despite Formula 1 setting up camp at the impressively rejuvenated Red Bull Ring, an air of melancholy has gripped the Formula 1 paddock.
Television ratings are down, the V6 turbo hybrid power unit ‘green’ era and Bernie Ecclestone’s apparent aversion to social media is being debated, and seemingly desperate measures like artificial noise, sparks and standing re-starts are being seriously considered.
Against all that, the powerful teams look to have won their latest battle against Formula 1’s struggling minnows – the attempts to drive down the sport’s huge costs.
The Formula 1 Commission met in London last week, but – having already dispensed with the budget cap – almost every single cost-reducing counter-proposal was also rejected.
“I don’t think we have achieved any measurable cost cutting so far,” said Monisha Kaltenborn, boss and co-owner of the struggling Swiss team Sauber. “I really wonder what the FIA is now going to do and how Formula 1 is going to be governed in this respect.”
If that sounds like a thinly-veiled attack on president Todt’s leadership style, the former Ferrari boss and Frenchman admits that he is also frustrated.
“Some racing teams are becoming resistant to changes,” he is quoted by Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper.
Many insiders have contrasted Todt’s FIA presidential technique with that of his predecessor Max Mosley, who was more inclined to banging heads and provocatively forcing initiatives.
Todt admits that the “resistant” teams have pushed against his desire for “a constructive solution that everyone can live with”.
“I admit,” said the softly-spoken 68-year-old, “these calls (for cost reduction) have been tougher than expected. I am aware that there will never be complete agreement, so I strive for the best possible compromise.”
It seems that the eventual outcome, however, is already known -no huge cost reduction initiatives, but a trimming of the fat with things like non-European testing and further reduced wind tunnel time.
“It may be that some teams do not survive,” Todt continued. “We have seen this situation often. But I am convinced that the present Formula 1 is more stable than in recent years. And, yes, we want new teams in Formula 1.”
And, two are at the ready – Gene Haas’ American outfit, and a Romanian camp run by the former HRT chief Colin Kolles.
“The new US team will come in 2016,” Todt confirmed. “Also Forza Rossa of Colin Kolles [could enter] if [they] meets the requirements, but currently they do not have a license.” (GMM)