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Sitting in front of an Amalgam 1:8 scale Ferrari, which is sure to rekindle talk of pro-Maranello bias, FIA President Max Mosley has warned that Formula One must take on board the current global financial crisis and adapt accordingly if the sport is to remain credible, far less survive as we currently know it.
"It has become apparent, long before the current difficulties, that Formula One was unsustainable," the Englishman told BBC Sport's Adam Parsons. "It really is a very serious situation. If we can't get this done for 2010, we will be in serious difficulty."
Mosley warned that unless the inhabitants of Planet Paddock take their heads out of the sand and realise what is happening in the real world F1 will suffer the consequences.
The latest incarnation of Jordan, Force India, is bank-rolled by Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya, while Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz is behind two of the current teams. While it is well-documented that Renault will only pay to compete in F1 while it is in with a chance of winning, there are continued fears over the last of the true independents, Williams.
"At the moment we've got 20 cars," said Mosley. "If we lost two teams, we'd have 16. If we lost three teams we'd have 14. It then would cease to be a credible grid.
"It depends at the moment on millionaires - billionaires, we don't have millionaires now, subsidising it," he continued "Without them, those teams wouldn't be there."
However, Mosley believes that unless the sport changes its attitude towards money, and takes on board the fact that the days of flaunting one's wealth are over, certainly at a time when so many outside the paddock are genuinely hurting as the financial crisis bites, even the big teams could suffer.
"The days when they could just toss out the 100, 200, 400m euros a year, which is what Formula One costs those big companies, I think they are finished," he said.
While the teams seek their own ways of lowering costs, Mosley insists that one area where costs can be seriously reduced is the "drive train".
"If you can believe this, the engine and gear box together for an independent team is upwards of 30m euros a year," he said. "That could be done for probably 5% of that cost without the person in the grandstand noticing any difference at all. Even those big spenders, if they are given the opportunity to save 100 or 200m euros a year will do so.
"We've got various means of making sure they don't spend that money, but it does mean some draconian changes," he warned.
Earlier today, the World Motor Sport council gave Mosley the power to negotiate directly with the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) over a "substantial reduction" in costs by 2010. Warning that if agreement is not reached the FIA will "enforce the necessary measures".
Pitpass understands that before the interview took place, Mosley was asked if he would like the (Ferrari) model moved. However, knowing that there was going to be a question regarding claims that the F.I.A. stands for Ferrari International Assistance, Mosley insisted the model remain in place.
When asked by Parsons if the FIA is biased in favour of the Italian team, Mosley replied: "Absolutely not, no. We've seen this over and over again. What happens is that the bloggers notice something that disadvantages McLaren or Renault, but they don't notice with Ferrari."
Citing an example, he continued: The mechanics on Raikkonen's car at Monaco this year, spent a few seconds too long on the grid changing his tyres and so he was given a drive-through. A drive-through in Monaco, well, that's it normally. But nobody noticed. Yet, if we'd done that to, for example, Lewis Hamilton, there would have been uproar, in Britain, not in Italy, but in Britain. This time, there was uproar in Italy, but not in Britain.
"It's the problem of being the referee, the referee is never right," he continued, it's just a question of how much you annoy everybody. You've got to live with that."
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