Formula One has been on a crusade to reduce costs for the past few seasons following the withdrawal of BMW, Toyota and Honda in 2008 and 2009, but McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh believes that the sport is currently facing a crisis.
“Formula One works best in a crisis but it is a shame that we have to create a crisis to deal with,” Whitmarsh explained to British newspaper The Guardian. “This sport needs ten or eleven teams and we should fight to keep the eleven teams we have now. But we are not good at doing these things. We seem to drop the ball.
“I fear that we will have a crisis and then we will have to get real and sort it out.”
An informal budget cap was put in place in 2010 to coincide with the arrival of Lotus Racing (now Caterham), Virgin (now Marussia) and HRT (now defunct). Although costs have fallen, the sport lacks parity between the front and back of the grid. This may be considered as ‘normal’ in F1, but Whitmarsh fears that the sport could become unsustainable for some, especially with the new engine regulations being introduced next season.
“What is frightening is that we have adopted important new engine regulations. They are the right thing to do in many regards. They are technologically interesting and relevant to society. But F1 badly mismanaged the cost of the development and supply of those new power plants. We allowed the engineers to be unfettered in dreaming up the regulations, which means teams are now facing big bills. We got costs down to £10m ($15m) and now we are talking about double that.”
Despite Whitmarsh’s fears, Honda have announced that they will returning to the sport in 2015 with McLaren due to the improved financial landscape, and Tony Fernandes has dismissed all rumors suggesting that he may sell Caterham in the near future.