Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has said that the loss of both Caterham and Marussia is merely the brutal reality of the economics within modern-day Formula 1.
In the past week, both of the backmarker teams have entered administration, meaning that they will not be racing in Austin this weekend at the United States Grand Prix. As a result, the F1 field will be the smallest in almost ten years at COTA, with just 18 cars set to race.
The F1 cost crisis has been self-induced, with the formation of the F1 Strategy Group – a big boys club for those with money – calling the shots for the future of the sport. Smaller teams such as Sauber and Lotus have been excluded from this, and as a result are left trying to compete with the might of the manufacturers with far more limited resources.
Earlier this week, Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn expressed her frustration and sadness over the situation, but Wolff said that this was simply the economic reality of competing in Formula 1.
“You could probably reduce it to a very brutal reality,” Wolff said in Friday’s FIA press conference. “Gerard [Lopez] mentioned the words ‘economic reality.’ If today you run a team, it’s like running a company.
“And this shouldn’t be sounding arrogant in any way, but you’re not obliged to spend more than you have. There are different agendas. If you run a company today and you own it, you should probably run it in a sensible way, and that means spending what you have. If you decide to invest or to go into debt because you believe that there is a sound business case behind it, this is what you should do.
“Now, I find it disturbing as well that you need to spend one hundred million, or you want to spend one hundred million if your income is only 60 or 70 million. In my time back at Williams that was the philosophy. You spent what you have. And if you decide to follow a more aggressive strategy, you need to know what happens tomorrow.
“I have a lot of respect for everybody sitting on the stage, from an entrepreneurial view, but that is the economic reality and the economic reality is valid for any company out there and for any sports team.”
Wolff believes that F1 does need to act, though, and come up with a short-term solution for the good of the sport.
“We are nine teams today, 18 cars and we have lost two teams which is not nice and I’ve said that before,” he said. “I think the teams who are in Formula 1 today should stay in Formula 1 and we should all look at the situation and come up with a short term plan: how to have a healthy grid, and a long term plan.
“We are talking about money distribution that is an issue for the commercial rights holder, and I don’t have a solution. I can come up with many ideas which can be short term solutions but it comes back to the principle and what’s been said before: whatever you give to the teams, they are going to spend it.”
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